When ADHD parents and ADHD kids collide

It can be challenging having a child with ADHD. It can be challenging being a parent with ADHD. It can be seemingly impossible to be a parent with ADHD who has a child with ADHD, let alone 6.

That’s our situation. Well, technically, only I and two of our children have been diagnosed, but we’re quite certain at least 3 of the other children have it. I also am pretty sure Mary has it.

Having ADHD while you’re trying to parent children with ADHD has all sorts of complexity, but there is one area in particular I wanted to touch on briefly.

One characteristic of ADHD is poor emotion regulation. That means we get easily frustrated, and that frustration can easily manifest as anger.

Another characteristic is positive feedback. Because people with ADHD are often forgetful, or distracted, or annoying, others often correct their behaviour instead of praise it. And since they rarely receive praise, it’s all the more meaningful when they do.

How is this related to parenting?

Well, as a parent with ADHD, it’s easy for me to get frustrated with things my children do (or don’t do). It’s easy for me to get annoyed that I have to remind them for the ninth time to do something. And it’s easy for me to start lecturing and raising my voice as a result.

The problem with that approach is that it just reinforces the behaviour that frustrated me. My children receive negative feedback, which doesn’t encourage them to change. And their lack of changed behaviour continues to frustrate me.

And the cycle repeats.

The only way to change the cycle is to break it. The problem, however, is that it likely won’t be the ADHD child who breaks the cycle. That’s up to us, the parents—the more mature and responsible ones.

We must be the ones aware of our emotions. If we can be mindful of how we feel and what causes us to feel that way, then perhaps we can catch our negative emotions before they escalate and explode.

Then perhaps we can see some change.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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