By: Jessica Aldred
Admitting something is wrong with your own child is a terribly difficult thing to do. I’m finally at a point where I feel somewhat proud of myself for admitting that I have a child with quite a few ADHD symptoms. While they won’t officially label him or consider medication until he turns 6, it was somewhat defeating to hear that something might be medically wrong, or imbalanced, with him. Now that I’ve taken the first steps to having him formally evaluated and have done some research on ADHD, his behavior over the past few years suddenly makes a lot of sense.
It took me a long time and a lot of pressure to finally discuss the issue with my pediatrician. Our preschool teacher had been commenting for months that he was quite immature for his age. I knew from my own child care background that he was super active and a daredevil but I had had such a cautious first child that I thought I was just due for a child that would push my buttons.
In doing some research on the subject, I found that there are really three main categories of ADHD: attention, hyperactivity and impulse control. While my son has always been on the go and super busy, I never really thought of him as hyperactive. There are times when he can sit and concentrate on an activity or task for hours without issue, but other times when he gets bored easily and just starts being disruptive. What really hit home for me was the impulse control angle. I had never heard of that in conjunction with ADHD. I thought that he was just a toddler/immature preschooler. We always joked that he was our “flight risk” or a safety threat, but when I read more about it I quickly learned that it was a major aspect of children diagnosed with ADHD. He doesn’t think before he acts sometimes. To him, consequences don’t exist.
Of course, many of the symptoms of ADHD are also normal preschooler behaviors. When I’d discuss my son with other parents they’d often respond with comments like, “Yeah, he’s three. That’s what three-year-olds do.” Or, “Oh no, my daughter is just like that too.” Because so many the ADHD traits are a part of the normal development process, waiting until they turn six to make a formal diagnosis makes complete sense. While we’re fairly set against medication if the formal diagnosis sticks, I’m 100% set on doing right by my child, so we’ll see what happens in the next year or so.
No parent wants to hear anything is wrong with his or her child, but in the grand scheme of life I feel lucky. There could be so many other terrible things wrong with any one of my children, so for it to be something so manageable is somewhat of a relief. It’s been about five months since we initiated the evaluation process and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer in denial of his issues and he’s making some great progress. The past few months have been huge for him in terms of maturity, impulse control and learning to control his body when he gets frustrated. While he’s still only four years old and has the better part of two years to conquer this tentative diagnosis, I really think he can do it and I feel like I did him a disservice in not investigating this issue sooner. In educating myself, I’ve learned to give the kid a break. If he truly has a chemical imbalance that is causing these issues, it’s not his fault and my constant annoyance and reprimands are not productive. What is productive is combining my new knowledge with my background in child care and psychology to find better ways to help him when he has a tough day and starts acting up.
As a mother, I implore you to not be afraid of utilize the resources that the medical community affords us to learn more about the issues that commonly effect our children. Rather than focusing on raising a perfect child, let us focus on raising happy children and helping them in any way we can. In changing the way we view their imperfections, we teach them how to be more compassionate and understanding individuals. Isn’t that a trait of being perfect?