ADHD and Bullying
Is your child the bully or the victim? Yes, they can be either one or both. This presents a real quandary for parents. On one hand your child is being bullied. On the other they ARE the bully. Unfortunately, I understand this all too well. Because this describes me at certain points in my life. You can’t begin to understand the confusion this can cause in your child’s mind. This can also be the source of incredible bewilderment for you as their parent. You are not quite sure which direction to go. Hopefully I can help a little bit with this. ADHD is considered to be a disability by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is also very common for people with ADHD to also suffer from anxiety.
No child should have to go through the school day feeling scared, embarrassed, or ashamed. But this does happen to thousands of kids every day in this country. Unfortunately, there are very few teachers, admin, or staff that are knowledgeable enough to know what to look for. So, it is up to you to help your child. Here are some of the things that you need to be aware of. There are three distinct types of ADHD.
1) Predominately Inattentive.
a. Having difficulty staying on track and following through. Starts a project and then quickly losses focus or gets sidetracked.
b. Difficulty paying attention. Has trouble following instructions or keeping schoolwork
c. Appears not to listen when spoken to. His/her mind seems to be elsewhere.
d. Often forgetful or easily distractable. Constantly forget where he lays things down.
2) Predominately hyperactive-impulsive
a. Fidgets or has difficulty remaining seated: Do teachers complain that your child leaves
his/her seat or moves around too much in class? Does it seem like your child is unable to
be still for an extended period of time?
b. Always “on the go”: Maybe your child cannot seem to play quietly or participate in
c. Talks excessive: Blurts out answers to questions or has difficulty taking turns: This can
be as obvious as completing other people’s sentences or not being able to wait in line.
3) Combined (inattentive/hyperactive-impulsive)
a. Does your child show symptoms of being both inattentive and hyperactive/impulsive
So now that you know what to look for. Lets discuss some of the things that can happen during a normal school day. The things that can happen to a child with ADHD are virtually the same as most any child.
So keep these items in mind:
1) Believe what they tell you when it comes to their being bullied. Children are far more aware
of what is going on than teachers. In fact, only about 25% of teachers have any idea that
bullying is occurring even when they see it.
2) Talk to them about the bullying. Let them know, with your words and actions, that the situation
is not hopeless and help is available.
3) Try to get as much information about the bullying as you can. Try to determine if you can if they
are doing anything that might be contributing to their being bullied. But DO NOT accuse them of
4) The worst thing you can do is to tell them to “Just ignore it.” This is a signal to a bully to just push
harder. This is where teaching them verbal Judo can come in handy. I teach this in my book which
is available on this website.
5) Teach them to handout with a friend that would stand up for them if they are attacked. The
number one thing a bully does not want is to have to confront two kids at the same time.
6) Try to teach them that the worst thing they can do is to get into a physical altercation with
the bully. The bully is usually much bigger than they are. The number one thing that you can
do to help them is to help them develop self-confidence. Bully’s do not like having to face a confident child.
7) Teach your child how to be assertive without being aggressive or threatening.
8) Teach your child not to over react. This can be particularly difficult with a child who has ADHD.
9) Work with Teachers, admin, and staff to make sure they are well informed and to take action when they see any type of bullying involving your child occurring.
10) If your child is physically attacked or if there are threats of physical violence do not hesitate to take action by going to the principal or the police or both. If this does not work then by all means go to the district admin about it. Then to the state Bd. Education. As a last resort, go to your local news media. The absolute worst thing you can do is NOTHING. Just keep in mind who you are doing this for.