ADHD Behavior in Children is not an Excuse

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Here’s a big ADHD behavior myth: ADHD is just an excuse for children to get away with bad behavior.

What I usually tell people is that this is far from the truth. However, I understand why they might fall under this impression because they lack understanding of ADHD behavior and how it may affect the way a child reacts to certain situations.

ADHD behavior in children can be frustrating and confusing. It’s hard to figure out what to expect. As an ADHD doctor, here are some of the most common questions I get from parents of children with ADHD:

  • Why is my child behaving like this?
  • What can I do about it?
  • Will they ever be “fixed”?

Let me be frank with you – ADHD is not an excuse and should never be used as one. However, it may be a powerful explanation for a child’s unusual behavior.

The first question I ask parents dealing with ADHD behavior is whether or not the behavior is acceptable.

Once that question is answered, we can determine if ADHD is influencing the behavior and come up with a solution to deal with the situation.

The Difference Between Excuse and Explanation

Here’s a key thing we must remember: ADHD is a real, biological condition. Whether a person believes it to be a disorder, illness or deficit is really up to the person. That’s not what we’re debating here.

Instead, let’s focus on how the brain processes information and how that affects behavior. To me, an ADHD brain may simply be processing, taking in, and experiencing the world in a different way. Because of this, individuals with ADHD may have the extra challenge of monitoring their behavior.

That being said, I’m a strong believer that all behavior can be shaped, controlled, learned, unlearned, and managed – no matter what the circumstance.

It’s just a lot harder for someone with ADHD. People tend to focus on their negative behavior, such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inattention. I think that’s the wrong focal point because children with ADHD may naturally tend to exhibit this behavior.  Instead, I prefer to focus on the results of that behavior, such as issues with time management, organizing, planning, making decisions, memory, and other types of “executive functions”.

Once we refocus on these challenges, it’s easier to view ADHD behavior as an obstacle that we can help our child overcome.

The next time your ADHD child behaves in a way that is unacceptable, you don’t have to allow them or anyone else to use ADHD as an excuse for that behavior.

Instead, you can now work with your child to be aware of their behavior. Both you and your child can start to recognize the tasks and activities that lead to behaviors such as impulsiveness and inattention, and help remove the frustrations that create these behaviors in the first place.

Content provided by Dr. Rory Stern.

To learn more about ADHD, register to receive your complimentary ADHD Essentials Audio Course.  In this power packed digital program, you will join Dr. Rory Stern as he literally flips ADHD upside down and shares with you several secrets that most people don’t know about ADHD.