Building your ADHD child’s confidence

It is now three years on since my son was diagnosed with ADHD; and I have spent these last three years building my son’s confidence. Parents of ADHD children know all too well that their child’s confidence will most definitely take a beating, as a primary consequence of their child’s self defeating, uncontrollable behaviour.

Question: How is a child who is almost always in trouble, cannot concentrate, and has an inability to control their impulses, supposed to maintain their confidence?

The answer is: It is most unlikely that they will be able to, without constant support.

ADHD children are kind of smacked down before they even get a chance to stand up, because of the way their brain functions. This is a brain that they are unable to contain; unless of course they are medicated, or placed on a stringent, un-fun diet.

I have had to medicate my son, change the way I parent my son, make sure my son is supported by his teacher’s at his school, and case – managed, in order to save my son’s confidence.

He simply is not like my other children. Through no fault of his own, he cannot behave, or process information in the same way that his siblings can.

When my kids do something wrong, or inappropriate, they get a consequence. After being in trouble up to three times over the same issue, they eventually stop.

This is not how it goes for my son. He could be in trouble for the exact same reason as his siblings, twenty times over, instead of their three times; which is seventeen times more than his siblings. Same consequences for the same issue – different person.

Of course he is going to feel silly, dumb, defective and disordered.

ADHD children in the classroom

ADHD children are monitored and reprimanded more than the children around them. They are continually asked not to call out, to stop moving, to put their hand up to speak, not to leave the classroom without asking, not to stand up in the middle of a task, and not to be silly when doing class work. You name it, the ADHD child will be asked not to do it; and not just once, but hundreds of times. ADHD children attract a lot of attention from adults and their peers, all for the wrong reasons.

Children with ADHD need praise more than the non ADHD child. They need to be built up, driven towards their goals, and told that they can achieve, just like everyone else.

Building my ADHD child’s confidence

My son had a terrible first year at school. He said he felt ‘like a bad boy,’ all the time. This went on daily, right up until the end of kindergarten, when he was finally diagnosed with ADHD. It was at this moment that I knew I would have to work daily on my son’s confidence, before it was pulled right out from underneath him.

What did I do?

I have been open and transparent with my son about ‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.’ I have explained to him what it is, what this diagnosis means for him, and how exactly his brain functions. He knows he has difficulty concentrating, with impulse control, and his behaviour.

I believe that ADHD children need to know that they have ADHD at a fairly young age, so as they are aware that they have a neurological condition; instead of a defective personality, which makes them bad.

”Knowledge is power”

My son and I talk about his symptoms together. I have normalised them, and described these symptoms as small details that we need to work on. He sees ADHD as something he needs to keep tabs on; nothing more.  My son now know’s why he does what he does, what we need to do to improve the symptoms, and how we go about it. He no longer feels shameful about his behaviour, because he now knows that this is a fairly common disorder, lots of people have it, and he is not alone.

My strategies for helping my ADHD child maintain his confidence

  • I have provided my son with with a metaphorical toolbox to work with when he is struggling with his impulses, behaviour and concentration.
  • I hone in on his positive traits, and encourage him to participate in activities that he is good at.
  • I almost always try to be patient when his ADHD is creating barriers.
  • We talk about famous actors, writers, and other amazing intelligent people with ADHD.
  • I give my son lots of reassurance.
  • If I give my son a consequence; I make sure that the consequence will not deflate his confidence.
  • Consequences come with love, not punitive style parenting.
  • I allow for failure, and I repeatedly tell him that he needs to ‘stop,’ and to have a ‘think,’ about the consequences his behaviour will create.
  • I have embraced his ADHD, and the quirkiness that comes with it.

My son’s tool box


  • Constantly remind him of how there are consequences for every action.
  • ask him to ‘stop,’ to ‘think’ and to ‘act’ to make the situation better, instead of reacting to it and making it worse.
  • ask him to stop and think about his actions daily, which is a good habit to put into place for ADHD children.
  • I encourage him to sit in a quiet place to feel his emotions, instead of acting out on them (which is a common ADHD trait).
  • encourage self-talk.

Unfortunately, ADHD can be a very debilitating disorder for little children. ADHD can invoke shame, guilt, and lots of sadness, because the ADHD child does not know how to control their own brain.

It has taken me three years to build my son’s self-esteem back up to where it was before he entered school. It has taken a lot of work, an amazing amount of effort, research and time. However, a lot of what I have talked about has helped my son. He no longer feels dumb, silly, or bad; which is how he always felt before I formulated a plan to support him.

He’s doing pretty well. As far as I can see, he is very confident. He isn’t worried about wearing his pink gumboots up the street, and still practices his ninja turtle squat moves while jumping off walls when out and about. So, I’m pleased with the outcome for my quirky ADHD boy.

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