Ever since my daughter got her ADHD diagnosis, I feel like our difficulties with her have gotten worse and worse. Is it possible that getting the label could actually make her symptoms appear more extreme?
First of all, if you think getting the diagnosis influenced her in some way, you are probably correct. However, this effect can be lessened by clearing your fears surrounding the label and stigma that accompanies the ADHD diagnosis.
If your child has a diagnosis (or symptoms of one), your perception of him/her is affected by personal experience with how the symptoms of this diagnosis appear to influence your child and the family as a whole. Medical information and societal beliefs about the diagnosis also come into play when forming our perceptions.
Whether we intend to or not, we have preconceived ideas of what it means to have a “label” or diagnosis. On rare occasions, I have worked with families who have felt empowered by a diagnosis. One mom even said to her daughter, “we found out there is nothing wrong with your brain. You have ADHD and that just means that certain doors are closed, and we will do what we need to do to help you open those doors.” Far too often, as parents, we get on the internet and read everything there is about a diagnosis and end up feeling like a life-sentence of struggle has been placed on our child and the family. All this to say, there are a multitude of influences that help to create how we perceive our children.
Now for the big work:
- When you child does something that triggers you, you have a stream of thoughts and certain emotions arise. It is almost as if it activates the traumas and difficulties from your past, your old stories that are strongly rooted neural pathways. After multiple triggers, the accompanying thoughts and feelings lead to beliefs and patterns that continue to replay. You end up seeing your child with the eyes of the one stuck in the past, the one filled with fear, guilt, anger, upset, sadness and more. When we see with these eyes, we can’t be surprised that we see a child who appears, disrespectful, incapable, selfish, disorganized, or whatever else we perceive in them.
- Feel your fears for a finite period of time. For example, let yourself really feel the upset, anger, sadness or whatever has arisen for a day or so. Don’t fight the feelings, lean into them and really feel all that is there. Write down how you feel, tell a trusted friend, or do a meditation to free the fears from your mind.
- Start to focus on your daughter’s strengths and how she uniquely expresses herself in this world. Make a list of what you are grateful for and fall asleep each night filling yourself with gratitude. As you wake for the day, imagine what it would feel like to know that she is confident and secure in herself. Bring the feelings into your body that go along with a new and fresh perspective. Trust that your daughter has all she needs already within her.
If there are certain steps to take to support her, I encourage you to explore options after you have done your work on things, after you have cleared your apprehensions and limiting beliefs. When we make decisions from a fear based perspective we often draw in more to be fearful of. Once you feel a sense of peace, observe your child from the perspective of increased possibility and potential. Then intend for your next step to support her to be revealed with grace and ease.