How can I explain ADHD to a child?

Q: My 6-year-old has ADHD. How do I explain the condition to her?

A: Helping a child understand her ADHD can be a tall order. Many kids can't fully grasp why they may be singled out in school, why they have to go to therapy after class, and why they may need to take so many pills. Try explaining her behavior in a kid-friendly way, such as, "Remember when you got in trouble because you were jumping up and down at school instead of listening to the story? We know you want to behave and follow the rules at school. Your brain and body are like a race car that goes too fast. Mommy, Daddy, and the doctor are going to help you be able to put on the brakes and slow down your race car." Remember to emphasize that it's the behavior that's inappropriate, but that your kid is not a bad child. Once your child is older, around 8 or 9, there are lots of different books you can read together, such as Putting on the Brakes by Patricia Quinn, MD, and Judith Stern, MA, which is a great way to start a discussion about ADHD.

Copyright 2009

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