Thursday, January 31, 2013

Characteristics of ADHD kids admired in adults

Determined. Persistent. Stick to their guns. Ambitious. Creative. Leader, not follower. Energetic. Enthusiastic. Go-getter. Expressive. Good debater. Intelligent. Unique. Follows the beat of their own drum. Full of spirit. Free spirit. Not easily persuaded. A skeptic. Hard worker. Self-starter. Self-motivator. Inquisitive. Full of energy. Confident. Sure of themselves. Daring. Imaginative. Independent. Outgoing. Strong-willed.

These are all qualities we admire in adults. These are traits of people who work hard, are not lazy, invent things, build corporations, push the boundaries. But we have a hard time with those same traits in children. In particular children who experience ADHD.

There are qualities in these kids that will serve them well as an adult, qualities we shouldn't necessary aim to purge.

I see how they can cause problems. A kid shouldn't debate his consequences or the rules at school, nor should he hesitate when you shout for him to get out of the street when a car is coming. It is difficult for a teacher to teach if one student is going his own way in class, disrupting everyone else. He must learn to live within the rules and boundaries of society.

I see that. I get that. And that is why so many parents choose the medication route, to help their child who is struggling get through.

But what I don't get is why many teachers do not see these qualities as ones that are at their core good. There are ways to foster their independence and exuberance without breaking their spirit but it requires doing things different. It has been my experience that traditional discipline methods - shouting, shaming, exclusion - do not work with kids like these. A softer, well-thought-out, patient, consistent, structured, non-emotional approach does.

With some thought and patience and understanding and recognition of the wonderful qualities they possess at the root of their misbehavior/arguing/living outside the lines, teachers and parents and other caregivers can encourage and shape a child with ADHD without sacrificing the skills that will take them very far as adults.

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