By: Johnny Kicklighter

Attention Deficit Disorder,
otherwise known as ADD, has evolved over the years. The Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) identifies
three main characteristics of the disorder: inattention, impulsivity,
and hyperactivity. While ADD stresses the inattention behavior, ADHD
(attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) includes all three of the
categories. The DSM-IV lists the following symptoms of the illness:


1. Often makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, work, and other activities

2. Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

3. Often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly

4. Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace

5. Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

6. Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
7. Often loses things necessary for tasks or activities

8. Is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli

9. Is often forgetful in daily activities


1. Often fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in their seat

2. Often leaves their seat in the classroom

3. Often runs about or climbs excessively in situations in which it is inappropriate

4. Often has difficulty playing or engaging in leisure activities quietly

5. Is often on the go or often acts as if driven by a motor

6. Often talks excessively


1. Often blurts out answers before questions have been completed

2. Often has difficulty awaiting their turn

3. Often interrupts or intrudes on others

DSM-IV provides a good description of the behavior but does not offer
an explanation. The lists are helpful as it focuses our attention on
certain behaviors. Unfortunately, it implies that the problem has to do
with a genetic disorder when it actually is character.

are numerous biological theories that attempt to explain ADD or ADHD
but as of date, there are no medical tests to detect its existence.
Many in the biblical and Christian counseling arena believe that ADHD
is a spiritual problem. In a recently leased book by Dr. David Tyler
and Dr. Kurt Grady titled, ADHD: Deceptive Diagnosis, they claim that a
child’s lack of self-discipline, self-control, and self-motivations,
disobedience, and bad attitudes are excused as a disease.

the physical and spiritual areas must be taken seriously. If one
believes that ADD or ADHD is a spiritual problem, you can’t ignore the
spiritual aspects of ADHD, i.e., repentance, faith, and obedience.
Also, if you ignore the physical or cerebral related

strengths and weaknesses, the child will become frustrated due to your unrealistic expectations.

problems such as strengths or weaknesses obviously influence behavior.
In a child labeled ADHD, the physical strengths could include a high
energy level, creativity, risk taking, and an extroverted personality.
Physical problems could be poor memory, cognitive problem solving,
inability to establish priorities, etc.

Our spiritual
essence is frequently discarded when discussing ADHD. By spiritual, I
mean that humans are creatures of God who live before Him in all
aspects of our lives. We constantly make choices as to whether we will
trust God or submit to our own desires. Spiritual problems can be
identified by determining if the particular behavior violates God’s
law. If it does, then the behavior can be classified as a spiritual

Parents need to exercise caution when their
children disobey parental commands. Although the Bible clearly states
that children are to obey their parents, what if the child did not
understand or remember the instruction? Lack of understanding or

forgetfulness may not be a sin unto itself. Parents should ensure that have given instructions that are clearly understood.

your child lives on the edge of extreme impulsivity, hyperactivity, and
distractibility, you will discover they are also prone to certain sins.
ADHD kids seem to specialize in the following spiritual problems:
difficulties in persevering when things are difficult or boring,
talking before listening, not doing what they say they will do,
slowness in learning from past experience, slowness in seeking advice,
poor self-control, and acting before thinking. All of these problems
are addressed in the widsom literature of the Bible. One such book
being the Proverbs of Solomon.

Since no one is born with
wisdom, you have hope in prescribing a lifelong pursuit of biblical
wisdom. We often think that ADHD is an unchangeable genetic malady.
However, when viewed through the lens of wisdom, we can have confidence
that change is possible because God gives wisdom to those who seek it.
Some thoughts on how to teach wisdom: you don’t have to teach
everything all at once, work on one principle at a time, make sure you
include yourself as a teachable student, become an expert in the book
of Proverbs, and emphasize encouragement and instruction more than

Does popular secular literature have anything
profitable to say about how to deal with ADHD? Yes it does. Here are a
few tips: be on the lookout for encouraging strengths, offer
instruction in a vivid, visual, concrete way, and memorable way…instead
of saying, "clean your room" say "put all the books on this shelf."
Provide structure by way of boundaries, guidelines, reminders and
limits, have predictable, clear, simple, and written household rules,
anticipate and pre-empt problems rather than react to them, develop
“to-do” lists with reasonable deadlines, and do the hard task before
the easy one.

Parenting a child with ADHD is similar to
parenting any other child, i.e., you tailor your biblical instructions
to the child’s abilities. ADHD children have God-given strengths and
will take more careful observation and some creative teaching. They
will pose

unique parenting challenges. Instead of trusting
in our own strategies and natural skills, we need to also rely on the
insights of the Holy Spirit.

Johnny Kicklighter is an
instructor and counselor at the Gateway Biblical Counseling and
Training Center, and an associate of authors David Tyler and Kurt Grady
of Deceptive Diagnosis.

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