Resilience Begins with Responsibility: The Power of Service for Kids with ADHD

written by Robert Brooks, PhD, posted on Attitude Magazine

Early in my career, when I served as principal of a school in a psychiatric hospital, a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) said to me, “Why are you trying to help me? I was born with ADHD. God gave me that, and I can’t learn.”

For many children with ADHD, self-esteem takes a deep dive during the early school years as they begin to compare themselves to neurotypical peers. They experience a loss of motivation, negative attitudes about school and themselves, and other consequences that seep into various aspects of their lives.

One of the most important things we can do for children with ADHD is to help them nurture a positive self-view. Children who feel secure and competent are more likely to thrive in and out of school and be hopeful and resilient in the face of life’s inevitable setbacks.

Focusing on a child’s strengths is key to helping them cultivate a positive self-view, as is creating opportunities for them to help others by activating their strengths.

A Child’s Strengths: Islands of Competence

Something significant happens when parents and teachers start to focus on a child’s strengths and interests – or what I call “islands of competence” – instead of their challenges and so-called deficits. They begin to see features of their child or student that they have not focused upon before and begin to consider more effective ways to address the youngster’s problems both at home and in the classroom.