“I hate myself. I am just an idiot and dumb. I wish I didn’t have ADHD.” “I wish I wasn’t different.”
These heartbreaking words were sadly mumbled by our 8 year old this past week. This wasn’t expressed out of anger because he was being corrected, he was saying this with a sad, down-turned face, each word getting quieter and quieter as he shared his sadness.
My heart broke as he expressed to me in his 8 year old way how he hated his extra energy, and thought he was dumb because he sometimes couldn’t harness it and choose right from wrong. My heart broke because he has told me before that he hates feeling different than his friends. My heart broke because no 8 year old should feel this way, and my son was telling me he felt worthless because of something that he feels he has no control over, because of something he didn’t choose, something he doesn’t feel he can change.
How did my 8 year old come to think or feel he hates himself? Where did he get the words to blame his disobedience on his ADHD? Where did he get these feelings from?
And most importantly, how do I help him to see that none of this is right, none of this should be truly how he feels.
How do I get him to see his self-worth and how amazing he truly is?!!?
As I swallowed hard and tried my best to clear my head so I could help him work through all he was feeling, I cried inside. No 8 year old should feel this way, and it was now up to me, as his mom, to help him feel differently.
And this is what I said to him.
You are not dumb. You are not an idiot. You are amazing.
Your ADHD doesn’t make you less than, it makes you more.
Your extra energy is an amazing gift, one that will help you to be amazingly successful one day.
You don’t have an inability to focus as much as you have the ability to hyper-focus, and how cool is that!?
You aren’t any different than almost 1/3 of other kids your age.
You have the power to share how you feel with others with a simple look or act.
Your siblings want to be just like you, you are their superhero.
You can change the energy in a room, just by smiling at someone, or making a funny face, or winking. That ability is an amazing one.
You are fearless. You are loving. You are all including, all the time. You are the glue that holds friends and family together, because you include everyone in everything.
You are amazing.
Often times ADHD is looked at as a disorder or disability. In almost every school, every clinic, every psychologists office, even some workplaces. But who is to say that it is one?
Often times ADHD is looked at as a disorder, a disability; But who is to say that it is one?
Is it considered a disability to be able to hyper-focus on something and excel at it because of that ability?
Is it a disorder to be able to think through several things at once, to be able to problem solve easily because you can think ahead about the sequence of events and effects of one on another?
Is it a disorder to be able to excel at multi-tasking, something that is listed as job requirements for almost every job listing you’ll look at?
Our son is able to do all of these things. But, because he is only 8 years old, he sometimes has a hard time harnessing his energy and sitting still for an extended period of time. Because he is only 8 years old, he sometimes has difficulty keeping his thoughts to himself, especially when he is hyper-focused on something he’s excited about and wants to share. Because he is only 8 years old, he gets bored easily when he isn’t being challenged and will search until he finds something he is interested in to hyper-focus on again.
If we are really honest, we as adults sometimes struggle with these same things. I know I do, and I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD.
So I pray to you, when you parent your child, teach them that their differences are amazing.
Teach them that what others may see as a disability or an inability, is their special ability.
What others might see as a problem, can be used as a gift. What others may see as a challenge, can be overcome by their greatness.
And while we are all different, what makes them different also makes them awesome.