My new ADHD theory:
I’m always proud of my brilliant ideas, even when they’re lame. So now I have a new ADHD theory that explains all my other brilliant theories! Parents, pay extra close attention.
From what I’ve observed of adults with ADHD, there are two types and this information can help parents address challenging issues in a timely manner.
Is your child more VICTIM (Eff me) or BULLDOZER (Eff you)
What does this mean exactly?
The “Eff You” adult doesn’t care that much what others think. They believe in themselves enough to wag their middle finger at parents, teachers, and bosses, and then they go out and conquer the world. These are your corporate giants, entertainment moguls, and entrepreneurs.
Check this out: “If you have ADHD, you’re 300 times as likely to start your own business as adults without the disorder, according to Fortune magazine.”
The “Eff You” ADHDers are the risk takers. They totally believe in themselves and they don’t even think of themselves as risk-takers. That’s just everyone else’s opinion. They just don’t think of failure. They go out and try something and see if it works. If it doesn’t, they move on to the next thing.
At the same time, unless they have had the firm but kind hand of a parent, they may become arrogant and rather aggressive with others.
How do you know if you have an EFF YOU child?
In kids, this often looks like early entrepreneurial drive – wanting to create a lemonade stand or a club or having idea after idea. I love the example of Ren, one of my young clients who took apart a small, personal-sized, fan and wanted to see if he could put that motor in a truck and make it run. Ummm, he meant a full-sized truck!
Now it would be easy to say, “That’s crazy!” to Ren. And, he would reply (in some variation), “Eff you!” How do you handle one of these “I’ve-got-a-better-idea-than-you” children? Let them play out their ideas, as long as the ideas aren’t dangerous or unhealthy. These are kids (and adults) that will fairly quickly push away anyone that doesn’t support their dreams.
“Eff You” ADHDers are bossy because they don’t know how to direct their leadership impulses. They want what they want when they want it because they want to see their plans brought to fruition. They don’t have time for nay-sayers, and they won’t have time for you if you’re not supportive yet firm as well. They need limits so that they can explore their freedom more powerfully.
The “Eff Me” ADHDer
The “Eff Me” ADHDer takes every mistake as an opportunity to belittle him/herself. They go through life feeling inadequate, put upon, and like they don’t belong in the “real world.” They may have close relationships with others, but they are often underachievers when it comes to work and school. They give up easily and can’t think of alternative solutions because they’re convinced there are no alternative solutions. They fixate on the negative and can’t explore other perspectives.
They probably also have a slew of co-occurring conditions, particularly depression and anxiety.
How to parent the “Eff Me” ADHD child
The “Eff Me” child needs tons of support and acceptance from you. Pushing them won’t work. They will shut down. Use a lot of positive messages. Spend time playing with things like affirmations. You can both look in the mirror and say, “I LOVE MYSELF!” and then both laugh at how weird that is!
These kids need other adults around them besides their parents; adults who will tell them that they’re awesome and they can do anything they set their mind to. Adults that will guide them and explore with them so that they become less afraid of the unknown, and less likely to fall back on the old messages of failure and inadequacy.
They also need to be guided more with school and executive functions; they need to be shown how to accomplish certain tasks. They need parents and teachers who will come alongside them and be willing to assist them – actually accompany them – with things like goal-setting, organization, time management, and follow-through. The “Eff You” will often spend less time with you. They like direct answers and they want to do things themselves. The “Eff Me” needs more time and attention; they like to be accompanied.
Worrying about them is the least helpful thing you can do. It’s like worrying that your child will never be potty trained. It WILL happen but some kids take longer than others. (I wore diapers till I was 5 years old – separation anxiety! – but I’ve been potty-trained ever since. Yay Me!)
Both types are capable of leadership but with different styles. They can both be happy and successful adults when parents know how to handle those behaviors that are “signifiers”: The pushiness of the EFF YOU and the reluctance of the EFF ME.
Is your child an EFF ME or an EFF YOU ADHDer? What about you?
Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved
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