Are You a Troublemaker?

by Yafa Crane Luria



punkyFwithgum_1810565The other day I was talking to a friend about the concept of Troublemakers. Someone had posted online that entrepreneurs are square pegs & troublemakers. All I could say was, “Please. They don’t even know the meaning of ‘troublemaker,’ the meaning of ‘square peg.'” I was pretty ticked off.

Undoubtedly, some entrepreneurs, perhaps many, actually have ADHD but people who think they’re troublemakers because they’re innovative don’t understand the pain of being called a “Troublemaker” when you never intended to cause trouble in the first place. We who have ADHD know that pain. We who parent those kids know that pain too.

“Trouble on my left, trouble on right. I’ve been facing trouble almost all my life.” – Trouble by Cage the Elephant

Being surrounded by trouble and getting into trouble really don’t pinpoint who is, exactly, the troublemaker. Having ADHD, I may be more fascinated by the unusual (which could include trouble) but I may also be an innocent bystander.

I’m a Do-Gooder!

Shaking up the status quo doesn’t always mean one is a troublemaker. Yes, I’m an activist for ADHD, but I’m a Do-Gooder. I’m only a troublemaker to people who don’t understand ADHD or who think ADHD is kind of funny. Sure I like to laugh at situations and I do laugh quite a lot, but I refer to myself as “impish” not a troublemaker. Troublemakers CAUSE trouble. They don’t just “throw a wrench in the works,” they stay and watch the explosion, and they feel triumphant about it. They feel good watching people squirm. That’s not me. I like cooperation. I like understanding. I like people to learn; I don’t want to shame or embarrass anyone. I want to empower people, whether you’re a parent, a person with ADHD, a doctor or a teacher. And your child, he or she would be demoralized if people thought of him/her as a troublemaker, despite words to the contrary.

When I was young I was called a troublemaker because I was distracting, interrupting my teachers or my parents. But that wasn’t my intention. My intention was to understand what was going on around me and to learn where I fit in to the particular scenario. Where we fit in is actually not always clear to people with ADHD. Sometimes we explore our environments in disruptive ways.

Here’s an example that happens more often than you would think:

Once, in class, I was showing a film that kept stopping and going all the way back to the beginning. It was frustrating for everyone, but for one ADHD student, it amounted to a bit of a crisis. He knew what he was supposed to do: take notes while watching a movie. But what happens when that scenario is interrupted and he has to stop taking notes and then start again? His solution was to talk and laugh and rock his chair back and forth, making noise. Why? Because no one gave him another option. I didn’t tell him what to do when the film repeatedly stopped. He was winging it – not well, not as well as the others, but he was trying. Many would say he was being disruptive but it wasn’t HE that was disruptive, looking at the big picture. Looking at the big picture, it was the film that was being disruptive, and he was just reacting to it.

This is not to say that this behavior should be excused or ignored. That won’t help him at all. But it is our job to first correct the behavior by giving him an alternative way to behave and then by helping him remember this alternative, gently, without frustration or condemnation.

Too often ADHD kids and adults are labeled without getting the opportunity to learn a new skill or a new behavior. We owe it to our kids, to ourselves, and really to anyone out there to teach, reinforce, and reward good choices.

Has your child ever been labeled a Troublemaker? How did you feel about that? How did your child feel? Scroll down to the comments section to share your thoughts with other readers.

xo, Yafa

Copyright 2017 Yafa Luria/Margit Crane All Rights Reserved


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kandas October 14, 2014 at

i find the term trouble maker to have positive connotations simply because the folks that stir the pot are the champions of positive change. While I understand your point of view, I choose to wear it loud and proud that I cause trouble. In fact, no woman ever changed the world who stood by and accepted the status quo.


Margit Crane October 14, 2014 at

I understand your point of view as well, Kandas. I think it’s obsolete though. Why should women who stand up for their rights be called troublemakers? Perhaps we are buying into someone else’s point of view?


Audrey October 14, 2014 at

Thank you for sharing this! As a mom of a ASD child, I feel this is a page out of my life.


Margit Crane October 19, 2014 at

Thanks so much, Audrey!


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