Temperament and Parenting

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Kate's Answer

Dear Perplexed,

First of all, on the question of temperament and ADHD, here's an extract on this topic, from The Temperament Guides, Volume 2, by Dr. Sean C. McDevitt, Editorial Consultant:

"I want to make it clear that ADHD does exist. However, many children who are labeled with it do not have it. The inappropriate labeling should definitely be avoided as it changes the family's view of the child and (often) the child's view of himself/herself in ways that are negative and long lasting. Be especially cautious of an ADHD diagnosis when the youngster has recently had a major life change (new school or teacher, neighborhood, babysitter), and was previously well adjusted. Many spirited children need time to adjust to changes in rules, routines and expectations before they will be comfortable and settle in. The slow adaptation is not ADHD; it is temperament. The ADHD diagnosis require six months or more of inappropriate behavior influencing a child in two or more major areas of his or her life.

Certain normal temperament characteristics are similar to those regarded as behavioral symptoms of ADHD. Activity level, distractibility adaptability and persistence are normal personality characteristics but hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention are facets of ADHD. It is very likely that many children are being diagnosed with ADHD when in fact they do not have a neurobehavioral disability.

All children have temperaments. Even children who have been diagnosed with ADHD may have temperamental characteristics that create "poorness of fit" issues. Assessment and environmental changes to address temperament issues can still be very helpful in many cases."

Working memory is the ability to retain information needed for solving problems in the short term. It can be diminished in children with ADHD and cause difficulty in learning. Executive functions such as working memory may be part of ADHD but are not part of temperament.

I hope this helps.