The Inner Experiences of Children with ADHD
It’s impossible for anyone to know what it’s like to experience ADHD except those who actually struggle with it. However, engaging with children who have ADHD, asking them questions, and striving to understand what is going on with them mentally and emotionally can offer incredible insights to help us understand their internal experiences.
As an ADHD psychologist, I have found several common expressions among my patients and would like to share them with you.
- Guilt and Shame: Children with ADHD often feel overwhelmed with guilt and shame over their inability to succeed in tasks that their peers seem to manage without difficulty.
- Low Self-Esteem: The fact that children with ADHD have below average achievement in school causes low self-esteem.
- Isolation: At times, children with ADHD imagine themselves to be living in a world separate from that of everyone else. This leads to loneliness and a sense of isolation.
- Anger, Irritation, Depression, and Anxiety: Children with ADHD have a tendency to misplace things, forget events, underestimate the time needed for tasks, and they often fail to progress socially. It is obvious that complex cognitive task cannot succeed if one is distracted, impulsive, forgetful, late, unprepared, and hyperactive. These difficulties add up and can lead to chronic anger, irritation, depression, and anxiety.
- Feeling and Being Judged Negatively By Others: Peers tend to be critical of the outward behavior and apparent shortcomings that children with ADHD present. Thus, relationships with others and with oneself are easily damaged.
Understanding and Healing
An important part of working with children who have ADHD is to realize that positive qualities such as high intelligence and unusual creativity or talent may not be sufficiently appreciated because the overall social world in which the child lives focuses mostly on his or her disruptive, at times chaotic, behavior.
At the same time, children with ADHD may have difficulty taking pleasure in their own ideas, exceptional creativity, and unique talents because of their preoccupations with how others view and judge them, including their own parents and siblings.
In spite of the fact that children with ADHD are interesting, usually fun, often challenging people, without help, tolerance, and appreciation for their unique behaviors and gifts, they can easily end up with extremely damaged self-esteem, living isolated lives.
As an ADHD psychologist, I am committed to helping families cope with ADHD. It is of utmost importance that children with ADHD recognize and honor their own strengths and learn to prevent negative thoughts and behaviors from having too much influence on their development.
It is critical that we all work together to build support systems for children with ADHD in order to alleviate the harsh thoughts and emotions that they experience and to promote positive feelings and ideas about who they are and how they fit into our society. And the first step is to simply understand their inner landscape and develop empathy for their unique perspective and sense of self.
Dr. Kenneth Roberson is a San Francisco based ADHD psychologist with over 20 years of experience treating adults, adolescents and children. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call 415-922-1122 or email email@example.com.