Real Life Solutions: ADHD


We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to and include "? for Dr. Mintle" on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Q: My 9-year-old child has been diagnosed with ADHD. How do I talk to him about this? 

A: Be honest. Most children struggle with ADHD before it is diagnosed and need an explanation. Keep the explanation simple and developmentally appropriate. 
You can explain that ADHD is like someone who has difficulty seeing and needs eye glasses to focus. Treatment is like getting those glasses. Or you may explain that it is like your brain is a speeding train and needs to slow down. 
Some parents use examples of volcanoes, super heroes, robots―all things that need extra control for their intense energy. Be positive and don’t use shaming language such as bad, deficit, weird, special, hyper, or mental. 
Help your son understand that this is a condition that needs to be managed and is not an excuse for inappropriate behavior. Don’t label your child or expect problem behavior because of the disorder. Your child can be live happily and successfully with ADHD. 
The diagnosis will help you work effectively with him to bring out his gifts and talents and decrease frustration. He is wired a little differently, but those differences make him uniquely him—who God made him to be. Your attitudes and expectations will influence his, so stay positive and encouraging. 



  1. Our son has aspergers as well as ADHD. One thing we have tried to explain when he uses his labels as an excuse for not being able to do something, is to say that you can do it but you have to work harder to get it done. Once he does it we remind him that he thought he couldn’t and make him see what he really can do. Positive behavior strategies also work better for us – instead of taking away a favorite activity for bad behavior, he earns that as a reward for good behavior. We have used this for such things as pool time while on vacation and such.
    We also received a booklet from one of our county conferences that used a remote as an example of what he was going through. I’ll have to see if I can put my hands on that again and let you know.

  2. Kristen White says:

    One thing that’s important to remember is that NO diagnosis limits what the Lord can do in and through our children’s lives. The diagnosis is no surprise to God. Sometimes we get discouraged, even depressed, because our expectations or hopes or timeline for our children are challenged, but we must remember not to make a “god” of these. God often uses what we fear or don’t want the most to make us into who He wants us to be.
    When we explained to our son, then 8, now 15 1/2, why he was having trouble concentrating on school work, he was actually relieved. Now, as we look toward college, I remind him that he can continue learning ways to manage the distractions so that he can be academically successful. The great thing about his ADHD: I’ve never seen someone so creative! He can make a world of characters out of a circle and a few rectangles. May God use that for His Kingdom purpose! I dare say that if he processed differently, he wouldn’t see and create what he does–and he’s very kind to others who struggle even more than he does. These are special gifts borne of his struggle.

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