Explaining ADHD to your Children

Should I share my child’s ADHD diagnosis with him or her?

Yes! Children are often quite aware of their strengths and challenges and often a diagnosis validates what they already knew. Further, your child may blame him/herself for difficulties listening, trouble getting through homework, and forgetfulness with belongings. A diagnosis may bring a sense of relief that his/her challenges are not the result of poor effort but are instead related to his/her biological makeup.

How do I frame the discussion?

It is important to remember to keep it simple and positive. A brief statement such as “Everyone’s brains work a little differently. Kids with ADHD have brains that are creative and spontaneous. They can think fast and jump quickly from one thing to another. This can be really great when you are coming up with ideas for your science project and when playing soccer, but it can be hard when you are trying to pay attention during a class lesson or when remembering to bring home the right books from your locker.” Many experts in ADHD often use a race car metaphor that is easy to understand for kids. It goes like this: “Your brain is like a race car. It is powerful and fast (because you’re so smart!). But, because you’re driving at super-fast speed, it can be harder to steer and to use the brakes to come to a stop.”

Do you have any go-to resources?

For kids, I like the book Learning to Slow Down and Pay Attention: A Book For Kids About ADHD by Kathleen Nadeau.


~Lauren Cook, Ph.D.