7 Things Not to Say to a Parent of an ADHD Child

Health Writer
View as:|
1 of 8

As the parent of a child with ADHD, I have dealt with many rude and ignorant remarks from other parents, sometimes these remarks were well-meaning but misguided. Parents of children with ADHD are forging their own paths. They are moving on a path without a map, doing the best they can. If you know someone with a child with ADHD, the following are things you should not say:

Everyone has a little ADHD. It isn’t a big deal

t’s true that everyone is distracted at some time, especially when preoccupied with life’s problems. It’s also true that everyone forgets things from time to time. But ADHD is a combination of specific symptoms and, is considered an “impairment.” If you don’t forget often enough to cause a problem or are occasionally forgetful, it isn’t the same as having ADHD.

ADHD isn’t a real disorder, it was made up by “Big Pharma”

There are plenty of legitimate medical diagnoses, besides ADHD, that need medications. Besides, there are references to symptoms of ADHD in literature dating back to the 1700s - way before Big Pharma was around. For the many people who struggle with ADHD every day, it is a real disorder, with real symptoms and thankfully, with real treatment. 

He just needs more discipline

Children with ADHD don’t need more discipline, they need different discipline. They don’t always respond to traditional types of discipline.  Positive reinforcement and discipline measures that are immediate are much more effective. 

But kids didn't used to have ADHD

Yes, kids did have ADHD years ago. It was just called other things, for example, in the 1960s it was called, minimal brain dysfunction. It also wasn’t recognized as often, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t around. Many children with ADHD were referred to as “stupid,” “lazy,” “underachievers,” or “daydreamers.”

Can’t you just change his diet to (gluten-free, dye free, etc)?

A small percentage of ADHD chldren are helped by diet changes. Some children without ADHD improve when placed on a gluten-free diet because stomach problems that accompany gluten sensitivities go away and they can concentrate better. Their behavior improves. But this doesn’t help every child with ADHD just as it doesn’t make a difference in every child without ADHD. 

I would never medicate my child

Chances are, if your child had a medical condition, you would medicate your child. ADHD is a medical condition. Some children don’t need medication, behavioral interventions are enough. Other children, however, benefit from medication. It is not comparable to insulin or cancer treatment. It is not “essential” to our children’s life. But, it does greatly improve their quality of life.  

ADHD isn't as bad in girls

ADHD can look different in girls and often goes unrecognized, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, creating problems now and in the future. Untreated ADHD increases the risk of alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, self-injury and academic problems. GIrls, as well as boys, with ADHD should be identified and treated.