The Mighty Logo

What 30 Kids With ADHD Want You to Know

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

If you parent a child with attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD) you are probably all too familiar with judgment from other people, especially when you are trying to figure out how to best parent your child.

Some might judge your parenting and claim you just “need to discipline your kid,” while others label your child as “naughty” or “out of control.”

Other relevant stories:
How to Help a Child With ADHD Without Medication
Can ADHD Develop in Adulthood?
Does ADHD Make You Tired?
What is ADHD?

No matter the explanation, sometimes if feels as if people have little room to be compassionate and gentle towards kids with ADHD (and forget adults deal with this too). There is little room to recognize their brains work differently and that success looks different for different people.

It is heartbreaking to think our children with ADHD grow up believing they are “naughty.” We need to help change their narratives.

As parents, we tend to speak up for our kids, but our kids have their own voices and messages to share. This is why, here at The Mighty, we wanted to provide a platform for kids to share what they wish other people understood about their ADHD.

So we asked parents to have a conversation with their kids and tell us, what is one thing their child wishes people understood about their ADHD?

Responses came from children as young as 6, up to college students.

These were their responses in their own words:

1. “I wish people would not act so negatively to my hyperness.”

2. “I wish people would stop calling it a disorder. I’m different, my brain works different, that doesn’t mean it’s bad or wrong.”

3. “I try my hardest not to be naughty.”

4. “I just wish people understood me.”

5. “I hate homework. I spent all day writing at school, why should I write at home? Home time is resting time.”

6. “I just wish they’d realize I need to fidget.”

7. “I need to listen to my music loud to drown out my racing mind. I talk fast because I want to get it all out, and if people are listening and engaged I can stay on track easier. When I come home from school my ‘coping skills tool box’ is almost empty. I need to withdraw and rest. I am ‘done.’ During TV time, rocking and bouncing help me to follow what is happening. I also needs subtitles on every show.”

8. “I can’t just stop being repetitive when I am moving.”

9. “I wish people would understand I’m not a bad kid.”

10. “When I was a kid I wished people understood I couldn’t just turn it off. I couldn’t stop my brain from jumping around just like I couldn’t stop my heartbeat or my lungs breathing. And it was as frustrating to me as it was to them.”

11. “I wish people knew just how smart I really am.”

12. “I can’t make my brain stop, I don’t control it.”

13. “I wish people understood that I am not lazy [and that I do] care about my responsibilities. My brain is a thousand places at once.”

14. “I cannot simply control myself. This lack of control makes me feel like a failure most days.”

15. “I wish my teachers understood that I can’t help fidgeting in class. It is unfair to get in trouble for something I can’t control. Sometimes it’s a good thing because I always have lots of energy to get stuff done. ADHD isn’t bad, it’s just me.”

16. “I want to behave, but my brain sometimes tells me not to. I have really big emotions and don’t mean to get so mad when things don’t go my way.”

17. “I wish people knew how hard I try to maintain and to fit in — especially when I ‘lose it.’”

18. “My brain pops, and it’s hard to focus; it makes my body need to move.”

19. “I wish people understood that I don’t always mean to say the things I say. I have so many thoughts in my head that sometimes things just come out of my mouth whether I want them to or not.”

20. “I am really, really trying, but most people think I’m being lazy.”

21. “I wish I could remember all the things I didn’t even know I forgot… like remembering to turn homework in.”

22. “My brain feels like it’s going to vomit.”

23. “[My symptoms make me anxious.] I wish people were more understanding when I’m having a hard time.”

24. “I’m a terrible standardized test-taker.”

25. “I do not intend to have bad behavior. Please understand, adjust and help me.”

26. “It’s like being stuck on the tilt-ta-whirl. No matter how hard you try to focus on what’s going on around you, it’s all a blur because your focus is on everything else at the same time. Sometimes I feel like my head is going to explode because everything is going on too fast and at the same time and I can’t pick which thing to turn on and still turn off the rest. Like in English when I’m trying to read, but I can’t remember what I read because I’m thinking about math and science and lunch and recess at the same time. I forget a lot, like if my dad asks me to go get something from my room, I get there and have no clue why I’m there and have to go back and ask because I heard I was supposed to go up but then was thinking about other stuff already and forgot why.”

27. “You ask me why I don’t enjoy learning more. You say you wish you had my brain because I usually have to only look at something once or twice to have it memorized. What you don’t realize is it takes me a couple of hours to quiet my brain down to pay attention long enough to look at that something that has to be memorized.”

28. “It’s hard for me to remember if I just put shampoo or conditioner in my hair. Did I already do it? Do I do it again? Which order? Did I remember to put soap in with my laundry? My ADD makes my memory horrible!”

29. “When I am on my ADD medicine I know I sit still more and I get things done faster. You say it makes me smarter. When I take it, though, I don’t laugh or joke as much. And I don’t feel like singing either. And I feel so emotional. If you were me would you rather be smart or happy?”

30. “It’s not that I don’t pay attention. The issue is my mind is always in 1 million places at once and I easily forget things because there’s always so many things going on in my head and with so many things on my mind it’s almost impossible to decide what to remember and what to forget. Another thing I’m going to add is I am not ‘dumb.’ I am very good at solving problems, my issue is memorization. All classes anymore are memorization and not coming up with solutions to real life problems, and that’s what I excel at.”

What does your child wish people understood about their ADHD? Let us know int he comments.

Thinkstock imag by agsandrew

Originally published: April 5, 2023
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home