Q: I’m afraid if I label my child as “ADHD” that label will itself be harmful. I don’t like labels. What should I do?

A: It’s a valid concern and a complicated one. A body of research shows that sometimes a label can be harmful—for example, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if a child interprets it as a license to misbehave or as a judgment on their worth.  Or it can make other people look at your child in a different, negative light. However, balance this out with the opposite: sometimes the label helps things come together, helps the picture make sense, helps a child understand it’s not about her intelligence or her character—it’s just a condition, that they have to struggle with. It can help them keep it separate. It makes sense to reflect carefully on the best route for your child and if the label seems necessary, to explain it to your child in a way that separates his value, gifts, and honor from the condition he’s got or the cards he’s been dealt. He’s more than ADHD.