I just think get to know who your kid is. Find things that they can do that make them feel really good. So when you’re chipping away at the things that are hard, they have this outlet. I don’t like having drums in our house, but we have drums in our house, a whole set. That’s good for him.
I would encourage parents to use every resource that is available
Whether it is a guidance counselor–there is no shame in getting tested for learning disabilities. Instead of calling them learning disabilities what you really want to do is call them learning styles. Find out what your child’s learning style is. Not everybody learns the same way. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be in denial. If you know that something is not going well with your child, look for help: talk to your pediatrician, turn wherever you can, and if you don’t get answers from one person don’t stop. That would be the one thing that I would say. In the beginning I think I was just turning to teachers to solve the problem, “This can’t be right, she’s a bright kid. How can she not be doing well in your classroom? Are you sure you are giving her all the right information?” I would say just be open to the fact that your child might need more resources.
I’m not him
Nick will say to me, “I’m not Greg (Greg is Nick’s older brother). Greg gets straight A’s, and if I studied to get A’s, I can’t do all these other things that I want to do. B’s and an occasional C are okay.” And I said, “Mmm you’re right.” That’s hard, but it’s sort of stepping back and looking at what’s important for him. He has really good self-esteem, and a part of that is because he does this other stuff. And he’s very successful at it.
Alex and I have worked very hard. I would say one of the critical elements for Alex was recognizing that he had certain shortcomings, and having the ability to overcome them, by just simply baby steps. It wasn’t that he was going to just do what every other kid did; he was going to do things his own way. He’s smart enough. He can do it. It just doesn’t mean that he’s going to do it the way everyone else does. And once Alex recognized that, I think it was a whole different ballgame.
Treat them individually
I think that you need to be honest in getting your child evaluated and if in your heart you feel that they could be helped with medication then don’t let anyone talk you out of it because they think you are whatever. I think each family has to decide what is best for their child. Whenever people say these kids are over-medicated, I always say, “Some of them really do need the medicine, it really does help them.” I think that is important for parents to know that they shouldn’t let anyone else judge the decisions they make if they are doing the best thing for their child. And then the other thing is to then get away from the label of what your child is, that they are Andrew or Emma. Just like every kid has a personality they just have this part of their personality and then you have to treat them individually.
Parents need to look to their own backgrounds
If you had any issues of your own growing up, you can’t help but go back there when trying to help your children with their issues or problems. I had undiagnosed learning problems and I was never helped with them. I’ve been fine. I’m a professor teaching at graduate school, but it was a long hard slog for me. I was determined that my kids were going to get early tutoring if they needed it and I wasn’t going to miss a thing. But then it becomes a little confusing about who you are doing it for. That is not going be an identical case with other moms and dads, but you do find that you have to pay attention to what it means to you, what it might remind you of, or what you are trying to make up for in the next generation that you didn’t get. Maybe you had a parent who neglected you or maybe you had a parent who overdid it. So in one case you don’t move in quickly enough and in another case you move in too quickly. That’s the usual thing with raising children, but I think when you have children who have issues it brings it out even more. The one thing I would say is that parents need to look to their own backgrounds and see what it might mean to them that they have a child with ADD.