Strong Willed Child vs ADHD Labelling

It’s funny how a perspective shift can transform everything. 

A strong willed child, can be energetic, can be argumentative, can be absolutely infuriating. They can unintentionally beat you down, especially if you are leading the way with positive discipline, gentle parenting and respectful parenting practices. 

It can all make you questions your sanity.  It forces you to work on yourself, to be come a better parent. You learn to master your own strong willed tendencies, you search out ways to find better grounding and control of yourself. 

You look for tools to support your interactions with your child. You use ‘Time-In” you swerve ‘Reward Charts’ you work hard to never use punishment or reward. 

You build resilience, you teach them how to look at things from a global perspective not just a local perspective (the whole world hates me then becomes that one girl doesn’t like me) 

Life becomes easier and you find a balance but still your strong willed child is a challenge. 

That is how I have felt for many years.  Like parenting is just that bit harder even though I do so much for it to be easier. 

I always suspected that maybe she was more than just strong willed. We had bigger hills to climb it felt. So when last summer she questioned why she was different to other children I read her an ADHD profile. I never wanted to label my strong willed child but in that moment it was time. 

“That’s me” she squealed with delight! I have ADHD… she no longer felt like there was something wrong. 

I explained you can’t self diagnose but agreed that it is clear. Our next step was a therapeutic diagnosis, crazy waiting lists meant instead we went private with an incredible women who was recommended locally. 

I cried when the results came back. I knew she was ADHD but I had no idea she had severe ADHD. Why not? 

A little back ground from what I understand so far (and please correct me if I am wrong I am learning) : AD – Attention Deficit is scored on 9 traits and HD – Hyperactivity Disorder is scored on 9 traits. A child  can be ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) without being Hyperactive. 

A child can score 6 traits present in AD and 3 in HD and can be ADHD but in my 9 year old daughter case she scored 9 traits in AD and 9 traits in HD. 

I am still learning about this whole new world but this was more than I expected, why was this not causing a huge problem in our life? 

In short we have created a life where it doesn’t cause huge problems. 

She only goes to school three days a week.

Self directed learning means it’s on her terms.

She is not expected to sit still at the table.

It’s ok for her to be moving around a lot. 

We use positive discipline.

She co-sleeps with us or me most of the time as her bedtime buzz is huge.

Then there is the other reason which took me completely by surprise. Familiar blindness. Which basically means if you are ADHD or Neurodiverse you won’t notice that behaviour is so different. I have my adult diagnoses in May so let’s see but my husband and I both feel that learning about ADHD is explaining a lot about our own lives. 

I recently asked a question on my personal Facebook “ How many hedonists are undiagnosed adult ADHD” the answers made a lot of sense. Anyone who knows my personal journey will know I partied hard for many years so learning about low Dopamine and the need for Dopamine hits in ADHD was a huge penny drop. 

Ha it equally made me think “oh god what’s my daughter going to be like a teen”.

Back to my girl. No Mum Is An Island was born from me desperately trying to manage a strong willed, wild child who had me on my knees frequently. I had to become a better version of myself to be able to parent her. 

I had to switch from being a reactionary mum to a mum who paused and took action, in my interactions with her. I had to look after myself enough so that I was never pouring from an empty cup. Because I need to be strong and calm to mother her. 

Her emotional regulation is like a 5 year old at times but her ability to mask with others is incredible ( I am not sure that’s a good thing) she can hold a melt down until we get to the car then all hell breaks loose. 

This is where a diagnose brings me something new. Parenting tools from positive discipline or gentle parenting or conscious parenting have literally been my lifeline BUT this label brings me a whole deeper leave understanding, a new ability to carry that little bit more. Understanding she has a neurological disorder means I have deeper empathy and knowing. 

Disorder is such a yucky word. But when I read Gabor Mate say it is a disorder because it creates dis – order, I could resonate with it with more comfort.

The best way I can see it now is that one half of her brain is incredible, her ability to read non verbal communication, she can read peoples energy, their moods, she reads what they feel not what they say, her senses from hearing, sight to smell and touch are off the scale acute.  I’ve been reading about ADHD and psychic abilities as there are other things to unpack here. 

Her problem solving skills, her nurturing ability, her deeply felt singing (which can make me cry as she expresses the words with the heart felt empathy of an adult who has lived the experiences she sings about) her way with people, her fashion sense, her kindness, and so much more. 

These things will come hand and hand with the meltdowns (They are not tantrums they are meltdowns and that’s the ultimate perspective change) the hyperactivity, the inattention, the deep feeling of being unloved ( Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria is a whole new world I am exploring but wow it makes sense) the need for dopamine hits and the impulsivity, the accidents, the Anger with a capital A. 



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