Lucky vs. Unlucky Behaviours

Why some people get support while others just get punished

As a child and young adult with undiagnosed ADHD, I always experienced my emotions very intensely. I did not learn, and was not taught, adaptive coping skills or social skills, so I was punished for my “misbehaviour”.

In childhood, I frequently acted out with both verbal and physical aggression because I didn’t know how to manage my emotions, nor how to respond appropriately when those emotions overwhelmed me.

When this happened, I would first be punished by my peers through teasing, bullying, and exclusion. Then I was punished by adults, with detentions, suspensions, or worse.

All of this just made me feel horrible about myself. I quickly came to believe that inherent character flaws and my own personal failings were causing the constant boomerang of actions and consequences.

“All kids have times when they struggle to handle expectations. How they express that they’re struggling has an outsized impact on how adults respond.”

-Dr. Ross Greene

As a young adult I rarely engaged in acts of outward physical aggression, but I still experienced very intense and overwhelming emotions. Since nobody had bothered to teach me any coping skills as a child, I still had no idea how to manage them.

I was still punished, this time through deteriorating relationships with friends or significant others, as they would distance themselves from me because of my behaviour.

Regardless of how emotional dysregulation, stress, or feeling overwhelmed manifest, all concerning behaviour is communicating the same thing: this is a person in need of support.

Dr. Ross Greene categorizes these differing responses into “lucky” and “unlucky” behaviours (Greene, 2021), because of how they are perceived by others, and because of how others then respond to those behaviours.

Continue reading on Family Matters.


Published by Jillian ADHD 2e MB

Jillian has Child and Youth Work diploma as well as a BA in Psychology. Jillian worked on the front lines of Social Services agencies from 2003 - 2012. Jillian has taken numerous continuing education courses and has attended various workshops focused on supporting neurodiverse children, in particular children with ADHD.

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