PAP 165

Helping Kids Accept Their ADHD and Be Their True Selves

with Mallory Band

An ADHD diagnosis can come with a lot of emotions, especially shame. So many kids and adults feel ashamed of their ADHD and lack confidence to be their true selves as a result. In this episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast, ADHD Adult and Executive Function Coach, Mallory Band shares her story of growing up with ADHD, accepting her brain and its differences, and learning to live authentically. Mallory has tips for parents on how to help your kids gain the confidence it takes to live as their true selves too.

My Guest

Mallory Band
Mallory graduated from the College of Wooster with dual degrees in Education and Spanish (Cum Laude). She spent her first six years in the education field teaching at Lowell School in Washington, D.C. She currently works as an executive function coach at Essig Education Group. Mallory gained confidence and experience in supporting students with a diverse and complex range of needs. Her teaching philosophy is simple: building and fostering meaningful relationships with children is the first step in creating a successful partnership. Her passion for helping children, teens, and young adults realize and reach their true potentials is Mallory’s greatest strength. In 2021, Mallory completed her master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University with a specialization in Mind, Brain, and Education and Urban Education. She graduated with honors. She has worked with students ranging from age four to adulthood. Mallory’s favorite part of coaching is the enjoyment and opportunity she has to learn from her students. Mallory is thrilled to share her knowledge, enthusiasm, and passion with others to help them gain independence and confidence.

Thanks for joining me!

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Mallory Band 0:03

There's nothing wrong with you or with your child. This is just sort of how your brain is wired. And yes, we do have to do things differently. And that's fine. It's not really a deficit, there are challenges. We're more vulnerable in certain areas, but every single person with ADHD or not have these invaluable strengths.

Penny Williams 0:27

Welcome to The Parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD a Holic and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Welcome back to The Parenting ADHD Podcast. Today I have with me Mallory Band, who is an adult with ADHD. And we're going to talk about her story and her journey on being her true self and strategies that can help us to help our kids to do the same because we want them to live authentically and to be who they are, and be successful at that. And so that's what we're going to chat about. And I'm really excited for you to be here. Mallory, will you start by introducing yourself? Let everybody know who you are and what you do?

Mallory Band 1:30

Absolutely. First, I just want to say Penny, thank you so much for having me. And providing me with this opportunity. I'm really excited to be here. So like you said in the intro, my name is Mallory band. And I currently work as an executive function coach with ESSEC education group. And I primarily work with children, teens, and also young adults, helping them gain independence and resilience and sort of learn to cope with sort of the brain that they've been given and help them with strategies to really be their authentic selves, like you mentioned here, do you want to start maybe with a little bit of your story, whatever you're comfortable with sharing is sort of your journey to get to that point. Absolutely. I will start off by sort of saying that I'm certainly an oversharer. So I will keep it sort of nice. But that lovely part of ADHD where the filter is sometimes not always working.

So I have a very sort of interesting story in that I have two parents who are very well versed in sort of the special education and mental health world, as my mom was a special educator for over 30 years. And my dad is still a practicing psychiatrist. So I was really lucky in the sense of growing up when I was first diagnosed with ADHD, and anxiety to have parents who already had some of that background information. But I think it will be interesting to sort of touch upon, despite sort of that environment in which I grew up, it was still very challenging to sort of unlearn some of these habits and coping mechanisms that have sort of been ingrained into my life. But honestly, as far back as I can remember, everything has felt so urgent, and I'm sort of the type of person I know everyone with ADHD is so different. So there is no kind of cookie cutter description, but I'm someone who is constantly, I'm not hyperactive, but I'm constantly moving at a billion miles per hour, because everything is so urgent. So in a sense, I'm always on time in the fear of being late, or I'm always able to get my work done days ahead of time in the fear that it's not going to be done on time.

So I think sort of just growing up, I didn't quite understand that this wasn't, I won't use the word normal. But my peers probably weren't going through these same steps and motions and thought processes. And that was something that sort of has taken me a really long time to understand sort of how I got here today. And I think that I know, this is sort of a little bit scattered in my response. But I think that sort of thinking backwards of my story is is still evolving. And I have a really unique perspective, in that I have the opportunity to sort of have boots on the ground working with kids or teens or young adults who are like me, and I can really relate to what they're going through and sort of think about my past experiences and continue to learn from them.

Penny Williams 4:40

Yeah, that's really amazing. I think Do you feel like being a person with ADHD that that led you to working with people with ADHD?

Mallory Band 4:50

You know, I think that's a great question. I have always sort of joked with my mom that I was never going to really get into special education. I started in in sort of a mainstream classroom and I just didn't think that that was something for me. But in graduate school, I was taking a lot of the mind brain teaching courses. And it was really astonishing, where I just started to see myself and a lot of the things that we were reading, or a lot of the projects we were working on, or the theories we were studying, it was just surprised, I guess I've you know, maybe 22, 23, 24, whatever it was to continue to have these great insights into my own brain. Understanding that my story is really not written yet. And I think that, by me understanding more about that, I realized, wow, I don't have you know, 50 years of experience, but I have the lived experience, and that it sort of was really just compatible with being in this field, because it greatly interests me to help other people sort of see their value and see their worth, as I'm sort of troubleshooting through these own challenges. On my end.

Penny Williams 6:02

Yeah, it's amazing that you're doing that. And I see a lot of people like ADHD coaches and stuff who have ADHD themselves. And I think you want to take an experience that was hard and help it be a little less hard for other people, I think naturally, we tend to do that. And it shows that you've learned so much about yourself, that you can be able to use that for somebody else, right, your awareness of yourself is enough that you can be able to help other people with similar struggles. And to really have a passion there is always helpful.

Mallory Band 6:38

Absolutely. And I think, too, that I'm becoming more self aware. But sort of in the tag team approach, I'm now just understanding how, excuse the double negative, but how not alone I am who I think that even though I was really lucky to have siblings who are going through similar experiences, and have parents who truly understand it, but just not understanding that there are millions of other kids who are going through similar experiences and just sort of feeling isolated and sort of in a state of alienation, and feeling just ashamed of why things are challenging for me or embarrassed that I have to do things another way. But I've sort of started to learn and really put in the work in that I'm very open about my experiences. And I think that that has helped other people start to be more open about their experiences, or just gain a better understanding of sort of what's going on in my brain, because I think that there were a lot of things I wish people could really understand. Because there are so many things that you can't see, I'm trying to get away from masking some of these challenges that I go through. But if we had to sort of branded as a typical young boy who is hyperactive and bouncing off the walls, no, that's not me.

People have said to me, Wow, I have no idea that you have ADHD, you don't look like you don't appear to be it. And I think those are sort of interesting statements, because it's just something that you can't always see. But part of the platform, sort of how I want to share my information on this platform that I have is working with families, to help them truly understand what it takes to get through the day and not to by any means play victim because what I sort of learned as a young adult is no matter whether you have a diagnosis or not. Everybody's got something going on. That's challenging. Life is not care, it just keeps going. And it's kind of silly, but I've literally just sort of under started to understand this as becoming adult when there's so many things that keep happening. But I think just sort of helping families understand that there's nothing wrong with you or with your child. This is just sort of how your brain is wired. And yes, we do have to do things differently. And that's fine. But I think always acknowledging that it's not really a deficit, there are challenges, we're more vulnerable in certain areas. But every single person with ADHD or not, has these invaluable strengths that it's so important to tap into, and to build confidence from where you currently are, so you can continue to grow and improve.

Penny Williams 9:31

Yeah, so what do you think led to you feeling like you could be your authentic self because I know so many kids and adults with ADHD feel like they need to hide that part. They need to hide the struggle, which I think is somewhat cultural. But what was it that sort of helped you to say this is who I am, and I am okay with who I am and I want to share my story.

Mallory Band 9:56

Definitely. And I will say as I've gotten older and so have moved further into adulthood. I think this is truly in the last maybe four or five years is where I've really understood who I am and where I want to be. I think growing up I understood that I was on medication that I had these diagnoses, I didn't really know what it meant, or how that impacted my behavior. But I didn't know that I was having these extreme emotions, and these meltdowns, and these just big sort of blow outs of screaming and crying and cursing, and I think ultimately looking back, and obviously, everything in hindsight, is 2020. But I was frustrated with myself that I couldn't do certain things that I wish I was able to do, quote, unquote, like everybody else. You know, as a kid, we don't see what's happening behind closed doors, we don't see what our friends you know, what it takes for them to complete their homework assignments.

You know, and for me, it was a lot of screaming and crying because I had to get it done today, or else just the world was gonna implode, there was it was just this complete, irrational way of thinking. But I think I've just started to sort of embrace the fact that I've always been someone who's really humble and hates to be the center of attention. And even just talking to you is super anxiety provoking, but I think that I'm really trying to focus on my strengths and think about past successes. And you know, I'm not perfect, and I'm pretty much aware that on my sleeves, I'm the first to sort of pinpoint things that I want to improve or describe certain emotions that I'm having that feel really big and intense. But I think it's too exhausting to be living any other type of way than living your life. You know, this is my life, you only get one of them. And I know that sounds cliche, but I sort of recently am just tired of having these thoughts running around in my head and trying to pretend like, everything's always okay, not that things aren't okay, but just, there are things that are challenging for me, whether it's having these ruminating thoughts about things that are probably never going to happen. But I think by putting it out there into the universe by saying it out loud, or by writing it, that's helped me sort of start to cement who I am and who I want to be. So really just wanting to put in the work, because it's too exhausting to continue on like this.

Penny Williams 12:36

Yeah, yeah, it's so hard to constantly be trying to hide yourself from the world, or some part of you from the world. And it sounds like a lot of acceptance goes into being able to live your true self, if you are fighting against what's true for you, you can't live authentically. But when you accept what's true for you, and you focus on strengths, you build some confidence, right, some value, and then you're able to really be more open, because I think part of authenticity is open. As you know, you're, you're sharing your story on a public platform, you probably share your story, in some part with most of your coaching clients. And that is part of the sort of healing journey of that too, right. And, and being able to say, there's a lot of value in me and I have a lot of strengths and look at what I'm doing. And it just helps us to be able to go forward with more confidence, I guess, which seems to me to open the door to authenticity.

Mallory Band 13:39

Absolutely. And I think instead of sort of reframing the way I sort of think and view myself instead of always focusing on the vulnerabilities really playing to my strengths and finding ways that I can share these strengths with the world. And I think I'm certainly working on overcoming imposter syndrome, because I think it's just something where I've always been so insecure with who I am, but but sort of something I've learned on this journey is that I have to reevaluate my expectations. I always thought that there was somebody or some things, setting these expectations that I had to strive for perfection. And once I sort of stopped doing that, because it was too exhausting. I'm actually realizing that I'm finding more success of being gracious with myself and thinking about how have I been successful in the past? And how can I share what I'm doing with other people. So selfishly by speaking about my journey, in my experiences and by writing about that it's been super cathartic and therapeutic, because I think it's hard to actually wrap my head around how far I truly have come. And I think I'm just finally starting to be proud of myself, for who I am and where I'm going, people will always say, you're so this that or the other thing, and I'm like, Really, you think that I can see myself in a completely different lens. And I'm trying to worry less about others reassurance and continue to build my own self talk up. So I wanted to use this platform where I can reach out to other individuals and families and help them understand. You're not alone. You're never alone. We're sort of all going through this silently. But if we do it together, we just sort of wash away a lot of the shame. Yeah. In this process? And I think yeah, yeah, like by being open and vulnerable. I think that's something you know that I am an oversharer. And I sometimes have a hard time filtering out, is this appropriate to say or not in some settings, but I think that that really is one of my strengths of owning my truth, and just sort of acknowledging what's hard for me what I'm good at and asking for help. And that's something that I want others to be able to do as well, to recognize there's no shame in asking for help. That is a true sign of strength and courage.

Penny Williams 16:18

It really is, you're really putting yourself out there when you ask for help. As a kid with anxiety, I never dared to raise my hand in school, or to ask a question or anything like that I was far too scared to do that. It felt even more scary and vulnerable than I already felt. But it is a brave thing, it is a courageous thing to say, I see that I need help in this area. And I see so many of our kids with ADHD or autism, or kids who struggle in school, they don't want to ask for help, because they don't want to be different. And so often, if they could just ask for help, they would feel, I think, more included, to bring you into the fold, when you are really struggling to keep up or understand I think it puts up kind of this box of isolation.

Mallory Band 17:09

Absolutely. And I love this illustration, I guess of my colleague said several years ago, when we're talking about differentiation, how all kids and this I think was even in a kindergarten class, but it was so basic that the kids could understand it of why does so and so get a fidget Why does so and so get a wobbly stool and she said, really has stayed with me in that, if you need glasses to see, then you have glasses doesn't mean everyone needs glasses, we all need different things to sort of do our best. And that sort of the type of commentary and the type of conversations, I'm trying to have an open up with my clients so that we really again, can continue to knock away the shame. We all need different things to be successful. And once we understand that, and can be in to implement that, we're going to just feel so much better about ourselves, we already feel well, I can't speak for others. But you know, when we try to hide and mask these symptoms, or these differences, or whatever it may be, we already feel really poorly about ourselves. So if there's something out there that can make life more manageable for you, then absolutely try to take advantage of that. That's a lesson I wish that all kids could truly hear and understand at a young age, because that is going to get you them anybody so far in life.

Penny Williams 18:41

Yeah, and this kind of ties into the conversation about neurodiversity. And this is why I love that we are moving toward that is that as a neuro diverse culture, we have all different types of learners, we have all different types of ways we process emotions, or you know, all of the things. And it just normalizes that everybody's different. Rather than saying, you struggle with this, you go over here in this bucket. And you struggle with that. So you go over here in that bucket, and you hope that you're not in any of those buckets, right? Because somehow, we as children, especially would attach some negative meaning to that. Right. And so the concept of neurodiversity is that we're all unique and different, and that's okay. Because it's everybody, we come from, I think this culture that is very heavy on conformity, and breaking out of that is only going to help everyone, right, like, those of us with anxiety, those with ADHD, now it feels more inclusive. It doesn't feel exclusive, I think. And I'm just so sort of proud of us as a culture that we're starting to talk about neurodiversity and accepting differences.

Mallory Band 20:03

Absolutely. And this sort of is a nice segue into, I thought I have is just that I think something that parents can do that's tangible. It's not simple, and it looks differently for all families is obviously in an age appropriate way, but have these conversations with your kid, about their brain wiring about your own as a parent, your own challenges, your own failures, your own mistakes, explain to your kids, you don't know everything, you have to do certain things a different way. I think that, along with what you were mentioning about society is that as kids or even for myself, as a young adult, I think that everyone has it figured out except for me, and what I'm learning is that no one really knows what's going on, we're all sort of winging it the best we can and trying to figure out what we need to do to be successful, to stay alive to get things done. And we find a system that works for us. So I think just having these conversations that are built in at home that take place, at the dinner table, or you know, at the park and just help kids realize that a normal doesn't exist. And if it does, it's kind of boring, no one wants to be boring, you are the way you are, there's nothing wrong with you. And as a parent, it's not your fault, you didn't do anything for your kid to be any type of way. I'm really proud of who I am, and where I come from going through adversity is part of life. But just really helping our kids highlight and find their gifts, because everyone has so many unique assets to offer the world that we want to make it a community we're really proud to be a part of, and to contribute to.

Penny Williams 21:46

Yeah. And like, I love that you keep coming back to really focusing on strengths and interests and passions. Because we also have to sort of find a way as parents to negate some of that negative that our kids are experiencing in the world, especially kids who are struggling at school, they go to school for six or seven hours a day, and feel like they don't fit or feel like they're not as good as their peers. And so it's part of our job as parents is to really focus on helping our kids find the things that make them feel good and feel confident, right? Because then they'll feel more like they have value and they can be their true selves.

Mallory Band 22:29

Absolutely. And I think too, for parents, it's so important, at a young age, to help your child find other areas besides school in which they can excel, right? Whether it's sports, which it certainly was, for me, that was just such an amazing outlet for so many reasons for me, or theater, or art, or whatever it is, whatever they're interested in, but finding ways and opportunities where your kid can be successful and really rewriting remodelling what success looks like for your child. I think it's so incredibly important that if your kids in fifth grade, sure here are the standards in the benchmarks in which they should be meeting. But it doesn't matter unless you meet your child where they are, instead of saying they should, or they should be able to do this or that I wish they could do that. You can have those feelings, but keep that to yourself as a parent, or find a way speak with someone about those. But that's not something we should be adding that pressure onto our kids, we should really be helping them find ways to be successful and reworking what success and what their expectations for themselves look like.

Penny Williams 23:44

You have pressure. It's such a good point. I know for my own son, that was a big trigger. He always felt like he was under enormous pressure, and in ways that he wasn't able to meet the expectation often times and so he sort of developed a learned helplessness when school always thought that he just wasn't trying instead of helping him with what he was struggling with. And I realized, probably like his last year in high school that the pressure was what was just causing almost this hard stop this paralyzing thing that was going on for him. And when we said, okay, let's just kind of give a reset. And let's try to take the pressure off. Let's work one day at a time. It was an amazing difference. And part of that was really taking the adult expectations off the table and sort of looking at them again, through the lens of is this doable for him? And is it important? Because so often I think as parents and educators too, we place importance on things that aren't necessarily important for everyone in every story, and we have to keep reevaluating that as A parent, I think, again to help our kids find where they shine.

Mallory Band 25:03

Absolutely. And I think to a mantra I'm even still trying to implement into my own life is just thinking about certain things where I am trying to unwind and take off this pressure that I put on myself and trying to unlearn these habits. But will this matter in a month from now, will this impact me in any way, in six months, and that's really hard, because we know with ADHD, or autism, or whatever it may be, or even anxiety, it's really hard to understand the construct of time, very abstract, and everything is now or not now, trying to put things to the side is very uncomfortable for me. But that's something I'm continuing to do is stay one day at a time, if I start to think about tomorrow, and the next day, the next day, and the next day, yeah, that's going to overwhelm anyone Mm hmm. Able to compartmentalize these things is extremely challenging for me, I'm able to be very organized. But that's something where I'm trying to set boundaries for myself, so that I can feel better about my own structures I have in place. And I think for kids, it's really important that we, as the adults give them time to reflect on their mistakes, their failures, their successes, what's working, what's not working, if something's not working, we can't keep trying to do it over and over and again, and expecting a different result. And I think sometimes parents don't understand, or they do but it's hard to fully wrap their heads around this is that kids are not many adults, they are truly still developing their brains are still maturing yet. And so when we, well I can do this, or my, your brother or sister can do this, that's great. We don't like comparing siblings is a very dangerous slope to go on. Whether they both have the same diagnosis or not, that's not helpful. And I think that only adds pressure. So that was sort of a few thoughts wrapped in one. But I think figuring out the concept of time, and figuring out how to chunk out your tasks, or your things that you need to complete in a way that works for you is helpful and really focusing on what are the expectations I have for myself? What are the expectations my parents have for me, or that I have for my children? And how can we sort of merge these into one growing document living document, because we're not stuck in stone, the cool thing about being a human is that we can change change is a really hard. So I think that's why having these mantras, having time to reflect having a growth mindset is all so integral to one's success and authenticity and finding their way in, in this complex world.

Penny Williams 27:57

Yeah, and I'm noticing that most of what we're talking about is a focus on skill building, giving kids what they need to be successful and recognizing the successes and learning from the things that aren't so successful, which isn't necessarily the intuitive way to go about parenting. You know, we just think, well, we're going to tell them what they should do and shouldn't do. And they're just going to come along great. And most kids are not like that. And we have to learn kind of more of a coach approach really, is what we're talking about is looking at skills, looking at where we need improvement where kids need help, and showing them that it's okay to need help with things and to ask for it. And then they're able to grow and get to their goals, right? Because it's about what our kids want for themselves. Not what we want for them not are not our goals for them.

Mallory Band 28:55

Absolutely. And I think this all starts with parents modeling this type of behavior and these conversations. So I think I've mentioned this earlier, but just really acknowledging, wow, work was so hard today. I definitely made a mistake on that presentation. But here's what I'm gonna do now, to make it better for next week's presentation. I think just kids don't understand that adults make mistakes that things are challenging for adults. Yeah, this is a really silly thing that I just sort of, I feel most ridiculous saying this out loud. But as someone who's growing up and understanding and trying to find my way, you always think everyone has it figured out and I'm thinking about, when my parents were my age, there were a lot of things they didn't know, we all have to go through these experiences, to really understand and to learn and to grow. And I think just being vulnerable with your child helps them become more authentic. So it really does start and stems from you as a parent can help make life more manageable for our children.

Penny Williams 30:01

That's such a powerful point, if we can be real with them, they know it's okay to be real also.

Mallory Band 30:07

Absolutely. I think just to conclude this, it really is just so important to have these conversations and to be real with our kids, like you just mentioned. And that's something that a challenge I'm trying to take on with the platform I have is someone who lives this life and someone who works with other people who also live lives on a similar continuum world different were all unique. But I think just empathy and understanding is so important. Kids are sponges. So Choose your words wisely. And kids don't forget things that you've said to them, they stick with them throughout their lives. And I think that can be either really magical or really detrimental to their growth as little human beings.

Penny Williams 30:59

Yeah. I know you wanted to mention about the online course you want to take a second to do that before we wrap up.

Mallory Band 31:05

Absolutely. Thank you. So at the group that I'm working with at ESSEC education group, we're offering monthly parenting courses, focusing on different modules, such as growth, mindset, and failure and resiliency, and sort of executive functions and all things mixed in and intertwined within there. So I think there was a flyer uploaded on the show notes. So that's something that if you're interested in learning more, certainly feel free to check that out. And I will say it's very premature. But if nothing else, I'm sort of doing this for myself, but I am working on creating some type of book, whatever that looks like just sort of talking about my journey. And the audience is really focused toward young adults, teens and young adults who have ADHD who have anxiety. And it's sort of information tied in with anecdotes about my life. And it's really just sort of in the beta and kind of creation phase. But certainly keep your eyes peeled for that. If you found this helpful at all. I think I'm just a regular person who has this lived experience, and I'm starting to find my way in the world. And I just want to help others, if that's possible, through my words, and through my writing. So I just want to thank you so much, penny for having me, this was a awesome conversation. I really appreciate this opportunity.

Penny Williams 32:31

Absolutely. I think anytime we share our stories, others are benefiting someone out there. If not just the feeling of not feeling alone, right of not being alone in the world. It's a very powerful tool, whether you share it verbally or in writing our stories, and being open with each other really matters. And it creates change, for sure.

Mallory Band 32:54

Absolutely. And I will sort of just leave it at, I encourage you to take a risk and to whatever it takes to get a little bit closer to living your authentic and true self. Because it's so worth it. It's too exhausting to hide any longer and you're not alone. We're really in this together. So I don't know you you don't know me. But maybe our paths will cross someday but you're not alone. And I believe you know that you your child, whoever you may be will be okay.

Penny Williams 33:26

Yep. Such powerful words for sure. For everyone listening, you can get that flyer for the online course. And links to Mallory's work at the shownotes online for this episode, which are at for Episode 165, and I do hope that you will go there and connect more. And learn more from Mallory and share her story with your children. Show them that there are others like them who are a little ahead in the trajectory and doing well and that they can also follow in similar footsteps. Thanks again for being here. Mallory. I really do appreciate you sharing your story with all of us here and I know that there are many here that have learned from it.

Mallory Band 34:15

Thank you so much for this opportunity. That was an awesome conversation.

Penny Williams 34:19

And with that, I will see everybody on the next episode. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and Mama retreats at

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