ADHD and Hoarding: What We Can Do for Our Kids Right Now
It’s time to talk about ADHD and hoarding, disorders that often go hand-in-hand, even in childhood. In one study1 of 155 people ages four to 82, 41.9 percent of subjects with ADHD displayed hoarding tendencies, and other studies2 have produced similar findings. So if you’re raising a child with ADHD like mine who tends to hoard things, you aren’t alone.
What Do ADHD and Hoarding Look Like in Children?
When it’s time to go through my little boy’s toys, it’s usually a battle. I feel a mixture of frustration and empathy because he gets so emotional over his stuff, no matter how long ago he outgrew something or how broken it is. He develops a very real attachment to even the smallest pieces of plastic.
He’ll even take things out of the donation box, crying that he loves them and needs them. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes I don’t.
So how do I go about not giving in?
How Do I Handle ADHD and Hoarding in My Child?
I’ve learned how to be a patient, rational source of support when it comes to my child’s ADHD and hoarding tendencies. When it’s time to go through his toys, I say stuff like:
- « Honey, this is for babies. You don’t need this anymore. Why don’t we give it to a baby who will use it? »
- « This is broken. You don’t need it, sweetie. It belongs in the trash. »
- « We’re getting rid of old toys so you can make room for new ones. »
I’ve also begun to box things up when my son isn’t around. Then I let the boxes sit in my closet for a few weeks, and if he doesn’t ask about those toys, I take them to Goodwill. In this case, what he doesn’t know will never hurt him, and his room isn’t packed with every object he’s ever owned.
With a little bit of coaching, my little boy has begun to let go of useless stuff without putting up (much of) a fight. He isn’t perfect, but I’m not reaching for perfection. I’m simply trying to mitigate his hoarding tendencies so they don’t grow with him and eventually become a monster he can’t control.
I can do that for my child, and so can you.
- Sheppard, B., Chavira, D. Ph.D., Azzam, A. M.D., Grados, M.A. M.D., Umana, P., Garrido, H. M.A., and Mathews, C.A. M.D. « ADHD Prevalence and Association with Hoarding Behaviors in Childhood-Onset OCD. » Depression and anxiety, July 2011.
- Hacker, L.E., Park, J.M., Timpano, K.R., Cavitt, M.A., Alvaro, J.L., Lewin, A.B., Murphy, T.K., Storch, E.A. « Hoarding in Children With ADHD. » Journal of Attention Disorders, 2012.