GROWING UP WITH ADHD: THE EARLY YEARS
THERE ARE FIVE THINGS THAT children and adults with ADHD have trouble regulating: attention, hyperactivity, impulsivity,
organization, and emotionality. This
leads to some annoying, frustrating,
and worrisome behaviors. As parents,
we get embarrassed by our kids’
behaviors, unable to understand why
they do the crazy things they do.
The truth is, our children’s
behaviors are more commonplace than we realize.
That can be easier to see
when we filter our impressions through a new lens.
We don’t need to look any
further than the Sunday funnies to
find the behaviors our children exhibit
What is annoying in our own kids we
see as adorable in two-dimensional
characters. When we laugh at the antics
of quirky, impulsive, chatty children, it
takes the edge off of our annoyance. Not
only does it “normalize” our kids’
actions, but it helps us see that things
could be worse. Best of all, we realize
that we are not alone.
If you’re struggling to understand
your child’s ADHD, and getting upset
over his behavior, perhaps some
cartoon characters will give you a new
perspective on the five faces of ADHD:
>Challenges in regulating
attention—;the inability to recognize
what is important to focus on, focusing
on it at the correct time, shifting
attention from one thing to another,
and being able to stop focusing when
it’s time to do something else.
Peppermint Patty, in Peanuts, is a
character who struggles with attention.
She can’t pay attention to the teacher,
is often confused about what action is
required of her, and ignores what
her teacher says—unless, of course,
the teacher is announcing that it’s
time for recess!
Cookie Monster, in Sesame Street,
struggles in a different way. He
hyperfocuses—he thinks only about
cookies! Much like our kids who play
video games, Cookie Monster doesn’t
care much about anything else.
He can’t shift his attention
away from cookies. After
all, nothing else is as
hyperactivity.; Our kids
have a supercharged battery for
a brain, which makes it hard to control
their brain or body. An overactive brain
brings sleep problems, chattering,
and constant motion, inside and out.
Think about Calvin, in Calvin and
Hobbes, who has an overactive body
and imagination. Take him to the
doctor, and he slides off the table,
turns upside down, with his head on
the floor and his feet in the air. Ask
him a question and he starts chattering away. He has no clue about what
he’s saying, but he’s eager to share all
the things he’s been thinking about
while the adults were talking. He
spews rapid-fire thoughts about
school, an adventure with Hobbes,
and what he wants for dinner.
When the adults start talking to
each other again, he slides
along the floor like a lizard
pursuing a mosquito on
The LOL Strategy
impulsivity.; Our kids’
brain wiring makes
adults think that they
are rude, disrespectful,
or aggressive. In fact, impulsive children
are locked in the present, unable to
think through what “later” might bring.
Hammie is the precocious brother in
the Baby Blues comic strip. His
impulsivity creates friction at home,
especially with his older sister. He
interrupts conversations, messes up
his sister’s games, drops dishes and
breaks toys, says hurtful things, and
gets himself into dangerous situations,
like running into the street or climbing
on the roof. He doesn’t learn from his
mistakes (yet), and his mother feels she
can never leave him alone for an
instant, much less with a babysitter. He
can be charming and adorable, but he
exhausts those around him.
>Challenges with organization. ;
Children with ADHD have trouble
keeping on top of time and responsi-
bilities. They are unreliable. They can’t
plan, prioritize, sequence, or remember
what needs to be done. Disorganization
Look for your child’s behaviors in the Sunday funnies.
BY ELAINE TAYLOR-KLAUS AND DIANE DEMPSTER
they are true: