Great Articles for Parents

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Here are several articles that we have written through the years here at the ADHD Information Library at for parents of ADHD children. We want you to read them - we think that they are important. And we hope that they will give you greater insight into your ADHD child or teen, and how to help them.

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A is for Attitude and Approach

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ADHD Skills Series: Attitude and Approach

Here is article one from our new series on the ABC’s of “Things that Pills for ADHD Cannot Do for You.” Pills used in the treatment of ADHD can be helpful, and we have seen hundreds of lives changed by using stimulant medications such as Ritalin, or alternative treatments such as Attend. But in these articles we will be discussing skills that need to be learned “on purpose” in addition to pills, in order to be successful at school, at home, or in life.

For example:
A – Attitude and Approach
B – Breathing and relaxation
C – Character and Confidence

There are few things in life that we truly have control over, but one thing that we do have control over is our “attitude.” Another is our “approach” to life, to work, to the next task.

For this article, let’s define “attitude” as our state of mind as we live out our lives each day. This includes that experiences that we have had in the past, what we are doing this moment in the present, and what we are looking toward doing in the future.

“So think clearly, and exercise self-control…” St. Peter

Everyone approaches life’s experiences with one of two attitudes about where our “control” or “ability” or the “results of our efforts” comes from: either they come from “within us” or they come from “outside” of us. We call this our “locus (location) of control.”

When individuals have a sense that they control how they will approach each day and how they will prepare for each event, and have a sense that they can control their view of the world and the choices that they make in life, and when they have a sense that their successes or failures are the results of their efforts (or lack thereof), then they can take personal responsibility for their choices, decisions, work effort, and to some extent results.

And these are the people who can, and will, work hard and sacrifice to improve their situation and performance.

However, when individuals live as if they have no control over their approach to each day, or how they will prepare for upcoming events, or when they have the sense that they have no control over the choices that they make or “the way that things turn out,” these are people with no reason to take responsibility for their decisions, work effort, or their results.

And these are the people who will not work to improve their situation and performance. After all, poor performance is not their fault – it is somebody else’s fault. Individuals with an external “locus of control” tend to be less willing to work hard or make sacrifices because “it doesn’t matter how hard I try…” They also tend to be more stressed in life, and perhaps even more depressed.

I have worked with dozens of pitchers at all age levels through the years. I like to tell them that they can only control what they do with their bodies (their mechanics, their release points and arm angles, etc.) when they are on the mound. But once they release the ball, they really cannot control the results of what will happen to the pitch they have just thrown. Though I encourage them to practice hard to seek perfection on every pitch that they throw, they simply have no control over umpires, batters, or fielders.

However, I tell them that I expect them to take responsibility for the results, even though they have no control over what happens after they make the pitch. Why? Because without taking responsibility for the results, a pitcher will just blame the umpire, the fielder, or the baseball gods, for anything that goes wrong. And if he does this, then there is little motivation to come to practice the next day to improve his personal ability and performance.

One must take responsibility in order to make the effort and sacrifices needed to improve performance.

The lesson is the same for children, teens, and adults with ADHD. If someone or something else is the cause of our bad results, then there is no motivation to do the work, or make the necessary sacrifices, to improve either our preparation for success, or our performance. And, as a result, our results will remain the same.

If you keep on doing the same things, you will keep on getting the same results.

For a child with ADHD this means that blaming the teacher, or the test, or the weather, for poor performance in school, is not as good of a strategy or attitude as taking responsibility for the poor performance. If the problem lies outside of us, then there is no reason to improve. If the problem is within us, then the answer is to improve us, through making the necessary sacrifices to improve our skills, knowledge, or performance.

For an adult with ADHD this means that blaming the boss, the co-worker, or the spouse, for poor performance at work or at home, is not as good of a strategy or attitude as taking responsibility for the poor performance. If the problem lies outside of us, then there is no reason to improve. If the problem is within us, then the answer is to improve us, through making the necessary sacrifices to improve our skills, knowledge, or performance.

How can you improve a “bad attitude” and make it a “good attitude?”

First, you have to be honest with yourself and admit that your attitude gives too much control up to forces outside of yourself, and begin to take more personal responsibility for your approach to each day and to your performance each day.

If you want your results to be different, then you have to be different.

Second, try to figure out why it has seemed like a good idea in the past to blame others for your own lack of preparation or poor performance. Take a moment to just experience what it feels like to take personal responsibility for your own life and performance.

Third, welcome the learning of new skills, information, and attitudes. Begin to dedicate yourself to improving your existing skills, knowledge base, and attitudes. Begin to get more excited about your potential to “take life to the next level.”

Fourth, begin to notice others more. Listen to others. Learn from others. Try to understand other people’s opinions or points of view. Learn to be more compassionate and empathetic. Be more generous toward others. Begin the practice of true humility.

Myth: “Practice make perfect.”

Truth: “Only perfect practice makes perfect. Sloppy practice, or practicing the wrong thing, just leads to sloppy performance or mistakes.”

Another Truth: “Under pressure, we do the things that we have practiced the most.” So we have to practice doing the right things, the right way.

Take personal responsibility for your preparation and approach to each day. If it is less than excellent, then work to make your preparation and approach excellent. Plan ahead for the next day. Eat a proper diet. Get plenty of sleep. Exercise or play outside a little bit each day. Do the best that you can for the next twenty minutes.

Take personal responsibility for your performance each day. If it is less than excellent, then work to improve your performance each day until it becomes excellent. Focus for the next twenty minutes on the most important thing, and do it well. Then repeat.

"Things do not change, we change." -- H. D. Thoreau

Your Approach to each day, and to preparing for tomorrow, is completely under your control.

And your Attitude for the next twenty minutes is completely under your control. As is your attitude for the next twenty hours. Both maturity, and a sense of freedom comes when you realize that you have complete control over your attitude and approach to life. Don’t give it away to others. Attitude and Approach.

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B is for Breathing and Relaxation

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B is for Breathing and Relaxation: ADHD Skills

Children with ADHD at school, and adults with ADHD in the workplace, both need to be relaxed in order to be most effective, alert, or productive. Tension is the enemy of productivity or performance. Relaxation is one of the skills that those with ADHD need for success.

But this is not relaxation that is associated with laziness or long vacations. Rather this is a state of muscle relaxation combined with appropriate arousal levels. Focused and aware, but relaxed.

Deep breathing can help to relax and relieve tension. It can also help those with ADHD to focus better, and to think more clearly.

Most people who are being treated for ADHD take stimulants. Stimulants are vasodilators, helping to improve the brain’s performance by opening up blood vessels and increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Stimulants also help by increasing the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

Deep breathing can also help to put more oxygen into our blood streams, and into our brains, which also helps to improve the brain’s performance. Athletes know this. Those in the martial arts know this. And everyone impacted with ADHD needs to know this as well.

Deep breathing alone will not replace an effective treatment with stimulants. But deep breathing and relaxation exercises can be a great adjunct to medications, and they are important skills that pills cannot teach you. They are necessary skills in the pursuit of greater self-control.

Take six to ten deep breaths. In through the nose until your lungs feel full. Hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Allow your shoulders to relax more and more each time you exhale. Breathe deeply and fill your lungs and your “belly” with air. Relax your muscles more deeply as you do this.

Do this simple exercise in the morning when waking and again on the way to school or work. Do this after lunch, and again when coming home at the end of school or work. And then one more time, just before bed to relax for the night.

Why do people sigh?

Because sighs are a natural form of deep breathing. We sigh to reduce our levels of tension caused by some stressor. Deep breathing can help to turn off our “fight or flight” system. Those with ADHD, particularly those with Inattentive-Hyperactive Type, are typically “on edge” and are often close to setting off the autonomic nervous system, the “fight or flight” system.

Some research (Fowles, Journal of Affective Disorders, 2003 and others), and common sense and experience, indicates that those who are the most “tense” are often at risk for behaving without self-control. Such persons are at high risk for anger, conduct disorders, “poor control of emotional expression, and “disinhibition.”

In other words, people with impulsive ADHD combined with just high levels of muscle tension can get into a lot of trouble with their emotions and with their behaviors.

When tension gets even higher, the autonomic nervous system can kick in. When this happens our bodies release adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, and cortisol into the bloodstream. Heart rate goes way up, breathing becomes more rapid, the field of vision narrows. Blood is diverted to our large muscles so that we can either fight or run away. When combined with ADHD we can see the Hulk begin to emerge in our children, teens, or spouse.

This is when your kid gets kicked out of school for the week, or your spouse gets fired at work.

As we said, deep breathing can help to turn off our “fight or flight” system. Those with ADHD, particularly those with Inattentive-Hyperactive Type, are typically “on edge” and are often close to setting off the autonomic nervous system, the “fight or flight” system.

The different types of ADHD that would be most at risk, and would need to purposefully practice breathing and relaxation would be “Tigger Type,” “Rabbit Type,” and “Piglet Type.” See the ADHD Information Library for more information on the different types of ADHD:

Those who are prone to excess tension, or those who have impulsive-hyperactive type ADHD need to practice deep breathing exercises every day. Then, when some kind of threatening situation arises at school or at work, and their tension levels go up along with their muscle tension, the person who has been practicing these skills can begin to breathe deeply, turn down the autonomic nervous system, keep the adrenalin away for the time, and begin to relax.

Progressive Relaxation for ADHD

Progressive relaxation exercises can not only put us into a healing state of profound relaxation, but can give us the skills that we need to relax and reduce tension in any situation. Profound relaxation can be strong medicine to reduce anxiety and tension. Rather than turning to drugs or alcohol to relieve stress and anxiety, learning and practicing the skills of relaxation can accomplish the same results, and are much healthier.

Check yourself right now as you read this. Take your finger and touch your forehead right in the center (from the point between your eyes, and up about two inches). Notice that spot. Is that spot on your forehead actually relaxed? If not, take a minute to relax just that spot.

You will notice that to relax that one spot you have to relax your entire forehead, in fact, your entire face will begin to relax. Then your neck and shoulders will begin to relax. It will feel good, go ahead and relax for a bit.

Robots to Rag Dolls: Teaching ADHD Children to Relax

This is one way to teach children with ADHD how to relax. It is a simple progressive relaxation technique. Make it into a game, “Robots to Ragdolls.” Have the child lay down. Then ask the child to tighten up their feet, “as tight as they can… hold it… now relax your feet and make them as soft as a rag doll.”

Then have them do the same with their legs, below the knee then above the knee. Then for their stomach, have then tighten their stomach muscles by pushing out their stomach, then relaxing like a rag doll. Then their back. Then their chest. Then their shoulders and neck. Then their face.

Then for good measure ask them to just lay there like a rag doll, but take a tour of their bodies to see if any muscles were still tense. If so, have them tighten that muscle group and then relax.

Then allow the child to experience what relaxation, with awareness, feels like. Combine this with the deep breathing to allow the child to become even more deeply relaxed. Allow the child to remain in this relaxed state for about five minutes – relaxed but aware.

The more often the child practices this skill, the better able the child will be to relax himself when under stress. It is one of the skills needed to really learn self-control.

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C is for Character : Skills Not Pills

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Skills that Pills for ADHD Cannot Teach You: C is for Character

Pills used in the treatment of ADHD can be helpful, and we have seen hundreds of lives changed by using stimulant medications such as Ritalin, or alternative treatments such as Attend.

But pills cannot teach the important skills that are needed to be successful in life. These skills have to be taught by us, the parents. One of these skills is the development of our character.

What is more valuable that our character? Is there anything more valuable than good character? Is there anything more worthy for us to focus effort in developing? No. The most valuable lessons that you can teach your children are the lessons necessary to form a good character.

The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.
– Thomas McCauley

Our character is defined by what we do, even when no one is looking. Our character is also defined by what we fail to do, or by what we choose on purpose not to do, even when no one is looking. Character is a matter of the heart, and so it follows us wherever we go. It reveals itself in the choices we make. Character is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.

Our values are our understanding of what is right, or wrong. Courage is doing the right thing even when there is a cost involved. Responsibility is doing the right thing just because it is the right thing to do. Self-discipline involves the denial of selfishness for the sake of self-improvement, or for the sake of other’s welfare. Honesty and Integrity involve the sacrificing of the expedient in order to do the right thing, no matter the cost.

Character involves all of these virtues. It is the living out of these virtues in daily life by the habits that we form, the choices that we make – hour by hour, day after day.

We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence we remain cold and indifferent. If we were to uproot even one vice each year, we should soon become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case…
- Thomas a Kempis, c. 1500 AD.

A part of developing or refining our character is found in taking an honest moral inventory of ourselves, and identifying what Kempis called “vices” in our lives that need to be removed. Then we need to do the work to remove the vice from our lives, and replace the vice with a virtue. For example, if we are impatient with others, then we purposefully work on removing that vice from our lives and replacing it with patience or charity for others – impatience replaced with its “opposite,” the virtue of charity.

The challenges of life don’t shape our character nearly as much as they reveal it. They clarify and bring to light what we have tried to keep private about ourselves – both the good and the bad of our natures. Life’s challenges give us the opportunity to pause and take that moral inventory. Then we can either take responsibility for our short-comings, and work to improve ourselves, or we can blame others for our problems and thereby avoid the need to ever work hard or to improve.

There are very few things about ourselves that we can actually choose. We cannot choose our size or hair color. We cannot choose our parents, or our native language. But one thing that we can choose is the quality of our character.

Many forces can work upon a person’s character, helping to shape or mold it. Parents, coaches, and teachers make their impression. So do good times, hard times, joy and grief. But in the end each of us has to decide who we really want to be, and make our choices.

Thoughts for Parents

Perhaps the most important point for parents to remember is that we are not “raising children,” rather we are “raising adults.”

We must purposefully consider what values, what skills, what “world view” that we want our children to master so that they can be successful as adults. If we are not purposeful in this endeavor then we will simply be leaving this responsibility to someone else – to our children’s peers, their teachers, their coaches, or the weird guy in the apartment down the street. This is not a responsibility that we can give to another. We are the parents.

Teaching our children these values, skills, and world-view takes time, perhaps an enormous amount of time. It is a big investment. This is where the “quality time” movement of the 1980s broke down and created problems in families. Parents cannot successfully teach values, skills, and proper world-view without an investment of “quantity time.” Fifteen minutes of “quality time” is no substitute for four hours of quantity time. Each of us as parents have to make the important decisions in how we will spend each hour of our days, which reveals a lot about our own character.

It takes time to build better relationships with your children and teenagers, and quantity time invested is the key to having a more successful family.

Thoughts for Athletes

Sports are often seen as character building opportunities, particularly it seems in our losses. When our team loses badly we are usually told that it is a lesson in humility (which it is) and that it is a lesson in character building (perhaps).

However, after coaching athletes for many years I have come to the conclusion that the greatest lessons to be learned from sports are the lessons learned, the character shaped, in paying the price to win.

Losing is easy, and anyone can do it. But doing the hard work that it takes to win, working both in season and in the off-season, every day, being diligent and self-controlled, forming the habits that are necessary to win, this is the classroom that teaches the great life-lessons of sport. This is the classroom that molds character. But we have to choose whether or not we will submit to the teacher and pay the price of success.

A Simple Tool for the Teaching of Wisdom and the Shaping of Character

Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course.
– King Solomon

The wise King Solomon lived over 2,500 years ago. He had 700 wives and princesses, and 300 concubines in his harem, and who knows how many children. He was wealthy and considered the wisest man of his time, as well as an excellent businessman and ruler.

Being a king, and having all those children, it was in his best interest to write down a training manual in “wisdom.” After all, he needed to train his children to become leaders in the nation, from governors to bankers, investment brokers to military officers. So he put together the classic collection of wisdom that we now call “The Book of Proverbs.”

The Proverbs are not very religious at all, at least not in the way that we usually think about religion. They are mostly secular in that they focus on the principles of health, managing and earning money, integrity, honor and honesty, making wise choices, and how to acquire further wisdom. It teaches the fundamental principles of having a successful life as an adult. It is sort of the “high school diploma” in wisdom.

The Book of Proverbs is divided into 31 chapters – one to read for each day of the month. Fathers, let me encourage you to spend some time each day with your children, particularly your sons, and train them in wisdom using this valuable – free – resource. Pretty much all of us have the book on our shelves somewhere, as it is found in the middle of our Bibles. Just spend ten minutes in Proverbs every day, discussing one important concept from that one chapter that you are looking at on that day. Over a period of time, as your child grows into a teenager, he or she will gain in wisdom and understanding beyond that of their peers.

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Using Games to Teach Problem Solving Skills

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Teaching Problem Solving Skills: Checkers and Chess Can Be Helpful

This past year has been fun for our family as Grant (7) has picked up the game of chess and has been very successful with it. We have enjoyed traveling to several tournaments, and have met dozens of wonderful children and their families. teaching adhd children problem solving skills

For several years I used checkers with my adhd clients of all ages to teach them problem solving skills. Checkers is an easy tool to use, as it is fun for children, especially younger kids, and if the parent or coach is not too competitive, is a great way to teach children how to think before making a decision and to look at the possible consequences of their decisions.

What surprised me was how many "hyperactive" children in the 8 to 12 year old range could sit down, focus, and play a really good game of chess with other kids their age. Perhaps you could help your child by teaching checkers first, as below, and them over a year or so moving them into chess. It is a wonderful strategy game, and I told Grant that it is just a way to play "army" with someone else, and there are rules that both players have to play by. He loved that idea.

I know that the "Stop and Think" movement in ADHD treatment has lost some momentum lately, but I still believe that the basic strategies and techniques are still worth teaching your children. After all, problem solving skills are important for everyone to have, whether ADHD or not. In fact, many marriage researchers agree that if married couples had basic problem solving skills better mastered that many marriages would be happier and many divorces averted. So problem solving skills are important for everyone.

Its easy to teach your child this five-step problem solving strategy. My favorite version of this simple skill goes something like this. . .

  1. Ask yourself, "What is the problem?"
  2. Think up three possible solutions (options) to the problem.
  3. Look at each option for a minute. Ask yourself, "Is this a good move or a bad move?"
  4. Pick what you think would be the best option or solution.
  5. Try it out and see if it works.

I use Checkers to teach this formula. It is a great way to practice without it effecting anything in the "real world." I use this formula to teach the skills in Checkers:free white paper- 101 classroom interventions

  • Move "A" - think of three good moves that you could make. Pick the best move.
  • Move "B" - choose your move. Now once you have moved, ask yourself, outloud, "Is this a good move or a bad move?" If it is a bad move, go ahead and move something else.
  • Move "C" - choose your move. Now once you have moved, ask yourself, "Now that I've moved here, what will the other player move next?" If you look ahead and find that you won't like the consequences for your move, go ahead and change your move. Think ahead!

I really like the kids to be able to think in terms of "Look at all of your options," and "Is this a good move or a bad move?" and "If I do this, what will happen next?"

Parents, you can do this with your kids at home. Just remember the point of the checkers game is for the child to learn the problem solving strategies (let him change his move even if he's taken his hand off of the game piece!). Game by game watch your child (if age 6 or older) get better and better at making decisions and good moves. Then use the "language" from the game to talk about real life situation. Good luck with this.

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A Call to Fathers

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Dads, please let me encourage you to change some things in your life.

Another recent University study found that the average father in America spends less than sixty seconds per day in conversations with his children!

The actual number was 47 seconds per day.

Where is the investment in the life of the child? In our work? Our paycheck?

What's with us men? Have we as fathers come to think that our kids really just need our money?

Our children need us to look them in the eyes and talk with them. We need to actually be involved in the lives of our children and teens. We need to actively raise them, teach them, and shape their character and morals and values.

Parenting is a "hands on" activity.

So, spend time with your kids. Be available for your kids. Make your kids a major priority in your life. Protect your family. Be involved in your family.

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A Calm Home : ADHD Parenting

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Designing A Calm Home ADD ADHD Atmosphere

by Ron Rougeaux

Attention Deficit Disorder is a mild brain disorder that is passed down from parent to child. If one parent has Adult ADHD, then their child has a 50% chance of inheriting it. If both parents have it, a child is almost 90% likely to have attention deficit disorder. This means there may be more than one ADHD child in a family.

What this means is that attention deficit disorder hyperactive children who have trouble concentrating and sitting still are born to hyperactive ADHD adults who have trouble organizing their day and staying focused on tasks. This is a real problem, because the ADHD child does best in a very structured environment.

ADHD children function best when there is a definite routine followed hour by by day. Yet they are born to parents who are unorganized and unstructured - this is where the family problems start. That is why most ADD ADHD specialists recommend that the family go into counseling as a group, or that the parents get trained in how to handle children who tend to be difficult. If you cannot afford a therapist trained in attention deficit disorder or if your insurance does not cover this service, you may want to join a support group through CHADD. Books like Conquer ADD ADHD help you. Here are some things ADD ADHD coaches and counselors typically recommend. This kind of advice is the hardest for someone with attention deficit disorder to follow, because they prefer to "live on the edge" and find well-organized houses "boring" and "uptight."

1.Set up a soothing, calm physical environment. Keep the house neat. Paint rooms in soothing colors like light blue and beige. Don't put up a lot of posters and artwork, clocks, and other decorations. If you DO put up artwork, buy soothing pictures of nature and landscapes, not violent pictures with bright colors.

2.Buy simple furniture and aim for an uncluttered look. Don't put up a lot of knickknacks or use busy patterns for draperies and rugs. Think simple, minimal and "less is more."

3.Organize supplies in an orderly way. The mentality is "Everything in its place and a place for everything." Store things like forks and spoons, pencils and stationery, and all other household supplies in an orderly way. Put things away after you use them. Clutter is very distracting to the ADD ADHD mind.

4.Keep televisions, computers and other "screens" covered or enclosed in cabinets. Otherwise they will "call" to you to use them. The ADHD child and adult ADHD have problems controlling the impulse to turn these machines on when they pass them. Keep televisions, radios, CD players and everything else that makes noise turned off and shut away, unless you are going to sit down and use them for at least a half-hour..

My children and I all have one thing in common...We all haveAttention Deficit Disorder (ADD ADHD)... and we were all able to Successfully cope with it.

Contributed by: Ron Rougeaux Website:

We appreciate all of our guest authors. Thank you for contributing! The views of our guest authors do not necessiarly represent the views of the ADHD Information Library or its staff.

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A Healthy Fast from the Digital World : Reset the Brain

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We just posted this article at for our counseling clients, but wanted to make it available to you as well. It is also now included in our ADHD Diet Program for 2016 that we will post online in October, 2015 at

Digital Fasting to Reset the Brain

Sometimes in order to get healthy we need to fast. Fasting can include foods, or a number of other things that we like. In the section to follow I am going to suggest that part of getting our children and teenagers with ADHD healthy is going to require that they fast from their Digital world for a few weeks.

For our children, teenagers, and young adults the digital world is almost as important to them as food and sleep. In fact, sometimes it seems that the digital world is more important then either food or sleep. And living in this digital world may help to contribute to her attention problems, sleep problems, school performance problems, and even social interaction problems. Brains that spend a lot of time in the digital world need to be reset.

Most parents are not aware of the problem. Both parents think that they're teenagers are children are immune from the problems that the digital world may cause. But our children, teenagers, and young adults are not growing up in the same way that we parents did. Their experience of the world is different from ours. And as a result of their brains are developing differently than ours.

For a quick example, in our generation about 4% of all children and teenagers were diagnosed with the equivalent of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or, or ADHD. But today 11% of all children and teenagers are diagnosed with ADHD.

What has changed?
• To some extent our diets have changed.
• To some extent our culture has changed.
• To some extent there are more head injuries from certain context boards, and there certainly are far more children who are exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero and therefore have your own set of injuries that will be diagnosed as ADHD later in life.
• But of all of these changes none are more significant than how are children and teenagers growing up within a digital world.

Because of the widespread availability of smart phones about 25% of teenagers will go online almost constantly. 92% of teenagers report going online every single day, including that 25% Who said that they are online constantly.

According to the most recent study from the Pew Research Center, more than half of all teenagers go online several times a day. And only one out of five teenager goes online once a day or less. And this is because most of our teenagers were carrying around smart phones in their pockets and can access the Internet pretty much anytime they want to.

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are the most popular social media platforms for teenagers. 70% of teenagers will go on Facebook every single day, and half of teenagers use Instagram.

Because so many teenagers have smart phones texting has become the preferred means of communication rather than having a conversation with someone else. A typical teenager with a smart phone will send and receive 30 or more text messages every single day. The vast majority of text messages are sent by teenage girls. And well the girls are texting, the boys are playing video games.

The vast majority of boys the matter what their ages will play online video games on their computer, on the TV set, or on their smart phones.

So what is the problem with our children and teenagers having these tools?

This technology is changing the way that our children and teenagers look at the world, interact with the world, and learn it. It is creating a generation of distracted people. Easily distracted people.

There is a growing and contrast between the school environment, which requires that our students stay in their seats and listen to material being presented, read from books, and process and learn information, from a highly stimulating virtual world - a digital world - that is far more exciting, has instant gratification, is filled with vivid teaming opportunities that offer adventure and excitement without any risk or effort.

The digital world that are teenagers stare at on their smart phones is far more exciting than anything school offers. Compared to this digital world school is simply dull.

And our children's brains, and our teenagers brains, are adjusting to this digital world. The skill of having conversations is decreasing. The skill of paying attention to a teacher or another wise person is decreasing. The skill of learning wisdom from the successes or failures of a previous generation is decreasing.

Being connected to this digital world, and the glowing screens that present this world to us is keeping our children and teenagers up later and later at night, and providing them with less and less sleep. And growing and developing children and teenagers are supposed to get at least eight hours of sleep each night and 9 to 10 hours of sleep is even better. The glow of the digital screen actually makes it harder for everyone to go to sleep at night. Adults are not immune from this and neither are our children.

The time spent in front of a computer screen, our PlayStation, or television set, is a contributing factor to problems with attention, poor social skills, impulsivity, and a lack of creativity.

As parents we need to limit the amount of time that our children, teenagers, and even young adults spending front of any kind of digital screen. And when I comes to enhancing sleep it is imperative that all electronic devices are turned off at least one hour before bedtime. Music is fine. And watching television is OK as long as you are across the room from that. But smart phones, iPads, and computer monitors are a significant problem.

If there is an ever growing body of research that concludes that excess of electronic use will decrease hey child, or teenagers’ ability to focus in the real world. One study from the national Institute of mental health concluded that "extensive exposure to television and video games may promote development of brain systems that scan and shift attention at the expense of those that focus attention." The time we spend in front of computer screens, television sets, video games, Facebook, and other smart phone entertainments, makes us less able to focus our attention, and get tasks done on time and with quality.

And if you want your child to pay attention better, and to be more creative, and they have better social interaction, and be less hyperactive, then I would recommend to you that they fast from electronic devices for a period of three weeks.

Their brain needs to reset.

And yes I understand that there are a number of researchers who are studying how certain kinds of video games may in fact enhance brain performance, but let's be realistic, your kids are not playing these games. They are playing Halo, and looking at Facebook, and texting their friends. And none of this is helping them to be better in school, or to interact with adults better, or to be more creative.

Specifically with ADHD children and teenagers, one of the major theories of ADHD is that there is a deficiency of dopamine in the ADHD brain. Ritalin is a medicine that increases the dopamine activity in the brain. And so with most people with ADHD symptoms Ritalin, and medications like it, help to increase performance at home and at school. And it seems that video games also help to increase dopamine activity in the brain. And one might be tempted to think this is a good thing.

Most children and teenagers with ADHD can very successfully focus on watching TV, on playing video games, I'm texting friends, or looking at Facebook. But two things are happening that we may not like after a while: first, how are ADHD children and teenagers are being "dopamine rewarded" for being in front of a computer screen so they will want to be there as long as they can, as often as they can; and secondly, their brains are getting these increases and dopamine activity from something that will not translate into real world performance or life.

So once away from the computer screen, or the smart phone, or the television set, how are ADHD children and teenagers are even more inattentive, impulsive, and perhaps hyperactive. They are less able to focus in the real world.

So, to help our children and teenagers be able to be more focused, and to learn better, and to be more socially intelligent and able to carry an intelligent conversation with others, we need to help them to reset their brains by fasting from electronic devices for a short period of time.

A three-week "fast" from electronic devices helps pretty much everyone. Of course not everyone can do this. I use electronic devices in my counseling practice for scheduling appointments, for answering emails, and for testing. But when I go on vacation I can leave all of that behind.

But our children and teenagers typically do not operate counseling practices, or any other kind of business that relies on computers, the Internet, her computerized testing. They use electronics for entertainment purposes. And entertainment is always optional.

Here's what your children and teenagers, and even though you might expect from a three week fast from electronic devices:
• A greater sense of relaxation,
• better mood,
• improved focus,
• deeper and longer sleep,
• more success at school,
• better work performance,
• better family life,
• more conversations at home,
• and improved relationships with other people.

And so this fast is now a part of our ADHD diet program.

This part of the fast will result in better blood flow in the brain, improved sleep which is a wonderful medicine all by itself, and reduced levels of stress. And in order to receive the benefits of this fast please understand that over this period of time you must actually "fast".

Just 30 minutes a day of computer use or video game playing can disturb sleep, increased fatigue, and increase inattention and lack of focus in children and teenagers. Two hours of TV are required for the same affects. Even a short amount of interactive video game playing will cause problems with sleep, concentration, and school performance.

So even if you can only fast for one week, make it a complete fast, and you will see improvements.

After helping children and teens with ADHD for about 30 years, I offer some free resources to parents that just might be helpful. The ADHD Information Library is an online resource with over 230 articles that I’ve written through the years on ADHD at Another resource is at where I have about 500 classroom ideas to help children and teens with ADHD be more successful at school. For parents interested in trying some alternative treatment ideas, our ADHD Diet Program ebook is available at, and we also recommend VAXA’s excellent products Attend and Extress. If you would like to know more, please feel free to call or email me directly.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist here in Tehachapi, CA who has been a skillful counselor to children, teens, and adults helping them to overcome ADHD, find relief for depression or anxiety, and solve other problems in life since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource. His ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families. He can be reached at (area code six-six-one) 972-5953 or via email at AT

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ADHD How You Can Make Better Decisions for Your Child

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I just saw my 950th client over the years who has ADHD. I have been counseling people with ADHD for a long long time here in Tehachapi, and Bakersfield, and before that in Lancaster. Like so many others he is twelve years old, nice and friendly, but struggling at home and at school because paying attention and staying focused eludes him sometimes. He and his parents are looking for some way to improve his life – his grades, his impulsive behaviors, his relationships. ADHD is pretty common, and it’s likely that from 6% to 9% of people in the US live with it. The good news is that there are some good options for treatment. Lots of things might help.

So when his doctor asked them to come and see me they had all of those questions that parents have about treatment options. “What about medications? Are they evil? I hear they cause seizures!” or “I’ve heard about alternatives, do they work?” Lots of questions from parents is always a good thing because it provides the opportunity to give accurate and realistic answers, and the better the information the better the decisions.

Researchers today are saying that there are three different “types” of ADHD, and each type seems to have its own treatment profile to consider.

The first “type” is the classic hyper-active ADHD that I have always thought of as “Tigger” type. Bouncy, fast, impulsive, active, working too fast and making lots of guesses, distracted by every shiny thing, and sometimes disruptive in class, this “Tigger” type of ADHD is most commonly seen in boys and surprisingly has the best response to medication treatment. Ninety-percent of Tigger-type kids will have a positive outcome with medications, but don’t typically do well with “insight” oriented therapies or “social skills” training classes. Teaching problem solving skills is helpful, and some training in self-control is always good.

The second “type” is the “Winnie the Pooh” type of hypo-active ADD. Slower moving, lethargic, passive, often late, brain fog, easily confused, pronounced working memory deficits, and mostly seen in girls. These kids are not usually disruptive, but are social and friendly. They often do well in counseling, but don’t typically do as well with medications. Only about 20% will get “good” results from medications, with 60% reporting “moderate” benefits. This type of ADD often turns into “Eeyore” type of ADD with mild depression, or “Piglet” type of ADD with some anxiety or worries.

Researchers are suggesting a third “type” of ADHD with is a combination of the neurological problems of ADHD combined with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. This profile may have its own unique neurological profile, and its own treatment challenges. It is hard for the parents, hard for the school teachers, and hard for the doctors and counselors. Usually everybody works hard to bring about good results.

Medications can be helpful, and the right medication paired with the right person can bring about a “day and night” improvement. Counseling is also really important, and anyone using medication for ADHD should also be in counseling because there are a lot of skills to be learned that pills can’t teach you.

There are also good “alternative” treatments that are helpful for lots of people. Our favorites are Attend and Extress, two over the counter amino acid based products that can be very helpful, and work even better when paired with a good eating program for ADHD. Brainwave biofeedback training also works well, but it can be much more expensive than using the Attend, Extress, and a good eating program.

After talking over all of this with the young man and his parents they decided to pursue a trial of medication now, because of the timing with the school year and the importance of bringing up his grades as soon as possible. But they were very hopeful that during the summer months they could try some of the alternatives, and if they worked as well as the medications, they could start the next school year with some healthier treatment options. The family made a good choice based on having good information.

There are some recommended resources online for more information. The ADHD Information Library has over 230 posts and articles on ADHD for parents and teachers ( , and you can find over 500 classroom interventions to help your child to be more successful at Our ADHD Diet program can be found at and both the CDC and NIMH sites have great information on the latest in research and understanding on ADHD. And of course if you are looking for a counselor in Tehachapi for ADHD please give my office a call.

Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., M.S. is a licensed Family Therapist who has been helping children, teens, and their families in Tehachapi since 1989. He served on the medical advisory board to the company that makes Attend and Extress from 1997 through 2011, and he is the Clinical Editor of the ADHD Information Library online resource. His weekly ADHD Newsletter goes out to 9,500 families every week. His website is for more information.

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ADHD Marriage : Ten Great Tips for Your ADHD Marriage

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While collecting comments, ideas, and wisdom from readers on the topic of ADHD and Marriage, our reader Christie and her husband wrote in sharing these marriage tips. -- ED

My husband and I are both ADHD and we have developed several strategies over our 20 years of marriage. Here is what we have come up with off the top of our heads.

1. EVERYTHING goes on the calendar and EVERYONE is responsible for checking it before they go to bed and again when they get up in the morning.

2. Keep the extracurricular activities to minimum.

3. Have a set schedule and do your best to keep to it, but remember to build some flexibility into it.

4. Lists of chores help. I have daily, weekly, monthly and yearly lists so I remember what needs to happen and when. may be a help to some of your readers.

5. Do it now. Put away that item/paper/jacket/box right away otherwise it becomes part of the scenery and will never be found again.

6. Make allowances for each other. Everyone is going to have a bad day where things get missed. Pick up the slack and don't tell your partner that you have done it. They don't need the additional guilt when they are already struggling.

7. Talk about things that are bugging you BEFORE they get out of hand. It may be hard now, but it will be even more difficult if you let it fester.

8. Ask yourself if the thing that is bugging you is going to matter to you in 25 years. If the answer is no, then let it go. If the answer is yes, then you need to deal with it NOW.

9. Laugh whenever you can. A sense of humor is hugely important in an ADHD marriage. Things are going to happen, you had better learn to smile and shrug or you are going to spend your entire life being really angry.

10. Chances are, you have a child (or children) with ADD or ADHD. Teach them coping skills now. Show them that they have a gift, not a handicap. Then show them where they can shine. Help them where they need help, but let them make small mistakes and face the consequences. They will learn from their mistakes if you treat them as a learning experience. Trying to micro-manage their lives, while keeping your head above water is a shortcut to insanity.

We keep coming up with more, but these are the best so far. Pearls of wisdom? Maybe not, but we are still married and enjoying each other's company. :)

Thanks Christie!

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Affordable Care Act : Will It Impact Your ADHD Child's Treatment ?

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How Will the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) Impact Your ADHD Child's Doctor?

Now that the ACA has passed the Supreme Court both doctors and patients need to start gearing up for the changes that will be coming to our healthcare system within the next year or two. Those that wait until the last second to consider the changes will be the most surprised when they come. Parents, it is time for you to have a conversation with your physician about his or her plans for the next year or two. Will they remain in practice? Will they sell their practice to a larger corporation? If so, how might that impact your ADHD child's treatment? If you begin thinking about these possible changes now, you won't be caught off guard when the actual reality changes 12 to 18 months from now.

There are a lot of details to the ACA. It is a gigantic program. While there is still some uncertainty whether Congress will try to over-turn it, right now we know that it will add as many as 20 to 40 million people to the Medicaid program over the next few years. The estimate is that 20 million Americans will

be added to the Medicaid rolls in the next two years as they are presently uninsured, and that over the next two to five years another 20 million will lose their present insurance from their employers (as employers decide to just pay the tax and be done with insurance premiums) and have to be placed on Medicaid.

While it is a nice thing to get people healthcare coverage, the bad math of the program may cause many most smaller private physician practices to fold, according to some physician organizations and practice management consultants. In fact, in one survey of 700 doctors, over 80% of these physicians wondered if they would still be in private practice within three years under the ACA. Under the provisions of the bill, simply because of the math (not the politics or the morals, just the math), many or most physicians in a private practice, or small physician’s practice, will be forced to either sell to a larger corporation or hospital, or close and find another job.

Here are some of the math forces at play. Right now, in an average private practice (think about your family practice doctor, or pediatrician) the average COST to treat a patient in the doctor's office is about $75.00. This is for your average eight minute office visit. These costs cover the overhead such as the office staff, nursing staff, insurance billing costs, costs of maintaining records, building rent, taxes, malpractice insurance costs, and more. Of course the costs vary from location to location, being greater in Beverly Hills than in a small town, but $75.00 is an industry estimate nationwide.

Today, Medicare (not Medicaid) rates reimburse about $75.00 for basic physician services per visit. Obviously this only covers costs. The physician does not go home with any profit from seeing a Medicare patient.

Private insurance averages about $90 to $95 per visit for the same services, so there is a profit to the doctor of $15 to $20 per patient with private insurance coverage.

However, under the present Medicaid reimbursement rates, physicians are paid only about $45.00 for the same services, and with increased paperwork to even get the reimbursement. So the physician has to take a $30 loss for every Medicaid patient that he or she sees. So your physician has to see two patients with private insurance just to make up financially for seeing one patient with Medicaid -- no profit, just covering overhead.

Adding 20 million new people to Medicaid will not solve this bad math. Volume will not help to overcome a $30 per patient loss, but will just drive many independent providers, or small practices, out of business or force them to sell their practices to large hospitals or corporations. Then there will be fewer physicians available to serve a growing patient pool.

And this will impact your ability to get an appointment for your child or teen with ADHD.

And, yes, we understand that the ACA mandates that Medicaid rates are to increase to the Medicare rates, but this is only for primary care physicians, and only for the years 2013 and 2014. Specialists like pediatricians, child psychiatrists, and neurologists, are excluded from this program. And who knows what will happen in 2015 and beyond.

Simply put, the reality of bad math is catching up to us all. And the future of healthcare is uncertain at best. So you must start planning, as changes are coming. For some, the changes will be good. But for the unprepared the changes will be very disruptive.

Parents, it is time for you to have a conversation with your physician about his or her plans for the next year or two. Will they remain in practice? Will they sell their practice to a larger corporation? If so, how might that impact your ADHD child's treatment? If you begin thinking about these possible changes now, you won't be caught off guard when the actual reality changes 12 to 18 months from now.

This is also a good reason to begin to look at what alternative treatments might help so that we don’t have to be as dependent on our physicians down the road. We like the benefits of medications, as they help many or most people. We also like alternatives like our ADHD diet program, Attend and Extress nutraceuticals, and EEG Neurofeedback training. There are other alternatives available, but we just are not as aware of them. Typically the alternatives are helpful, and may enhance the benefits of the medications if used together, which might make doctor visits less frequent.

“To be prepared is half the victory.” -- Cervantes

References: (several articles here)

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Building Your Child's Self Esteem

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Parenting : Self Esteem in Children

If we are to define self-esteem as "having feelings of worth or value," then people with adequate levels of self-esteem should display a sense of realistic confidence in their abilities and performance.

People with low levels of self-esteem would be expected to display feelings of inadequacy, a fear of failure, a sense of being unworthy, and perhaps depression.

According to researchers, most children enter school with a good sense of self-esteem (at least as defined by psychologists) and yet leave high school with a poor sense of self-esteem. What happens in between?

Challenges for Our Children…

It is estimated that 25-35% of children have Learning Disabilities.

At least 5% have Attention Disorders. All too many times during the course of their academic careers these children are labeled by teachers (or parents) as being "lazy," or "stupid." Remarks of this type are typically interpreted by the child as, "You're no good," and the self-esteem levels drop.

At least 50% of children will experience the divorce of their parents prior to turning 18 years old.

Most children, for whatever reasons too complicated to go into here, will tend to place at least a portion of the blame for the parent's divorce on themselves. Since the parents are typically placed on a pedestal in the eyes of the child, the blame for the divorce cannot be placed on the parents and must be placed elsewhere, most commonly on themselves. This also significantly impacts children's self-esteem levels.

There are other important challenges to maintaining reasonable self-esteem, such as merely being "average" in a world that worships only the good looking, the good athletes, and the well-to-do.

Too Much Can Be Bad For You…

Let me say here and now that inappropriately high levels of self-esteem may be worse that low levels.

Levels of self-esteem that are too high lead kids to believe that they are more important than anyone else, and that they should never be frustrated by work or challenges in life.

It leads young people to believe that they should always have their way.

Inflated levels of self-esteem ultimately discourages children and teens from learning how to work hard, and may well lead into criminal behavior (criminals tend to have high levels of self-esteem, not low levels).

Inflated levels of self-esteem also are directly at odds with the development of one's spirituality and relationship with God. After all, who needs to develop a relationship with God when he believes that what he wants is more important than what God wants?

The ultimate out come of the self-esteem movement is seen in the New Age doctrine that you are, in fact, God. Yes you. The guy who can’t balance his check book or keep his car fixed. You are God? So they tell us.

People are cheated in every important aspect of their lives, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, when their sense of self-esteem is over-inflated.

So how can we instill appropriate levels of self-esteem in our children?

Briefly, here are five key thoughts . . .

First, change the way that you look at this area of life from "self-esteem" to "self-confidence." There is a difference as wide as the sea.

To "esteem" someone, including one's self, involves feelings of "reverence" or "awe" or "honor" or "glory." Words have meaning.

Let's not get carried away with trying to make our kids feel good about themselves by starting to ascribe to them positions of honor normally reserved for God, and perhaps for Presidents and Kings. The majority of our society's problems are caused by people thinking that they are as important or as powerful as God, or at least that they are more important than anyone else in the world. This is not something that we really want to encourage in our children, or in ourselves.

Instead we do want to encourage self-confidence.

This attribute becomes especially powerful and beautiful when paired with the virtue of self-control. Raise your children to have these two character traits, and you will have wonderful and successful children, ADD/LD or not.


* Encouragement
* Praise
* Acceptance and
* Responsibility.

Encouragement comes when you focus on your child's assets and strengths in order to build his/her self-confidence. See the positive. Even failures can be outstanding learning experiences.

Encouragement sounds like this, "I like the way that you did that," or "I know that you can do it," or, "It looks like you worked very hard at that."

Encouragement is NOT giving compliments for work poorly done, but under those circumstances it IS inspiring your child to work harder and do better.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."
-St. Paul (Eph. 4:29)

Ultimately self-confidence comes from having accomplished things worth being proud of.

Reserve Praise for things well done. Where Encouragement is given for effort, Praise is given for accomplishment. Just say, "That's a good start, keep at it," when the work is not yet worthy of praise.

Accept your child for who he/she is. If you expected that your baby would grow into an Olympic athlete with an IQ of 148, and instead he/she is "average" then you might be very disappointed as a parent (most children are "average," which is why they call it "average").

Disappointment is often turned into anger, or at least frustration. If your child cannot live up to your dreams for him or her (and why should they?) then please be careful of your emotions. If you are not careful, your own dreams and expectations for your child will become a wedge between you and your child.

Please never make your love, encouragement, or acceptance, dependent on their performance or behavior.

Teach Responsibility to your children.

Let them try things and let them fail once in a while. Don't keep bailing them out. Victory only tastes sweet if we taste the bitterness of failure once in a while. Trust me, the dog's not going to starve if he misses a meal or two. The newspaper won't come to publish a story on your family if your child fails to make his bed once in a while.

Just use these occasions to remind your child that if his dog is going to ever eat again, he needs to get out there and feed it (assuming that's your child's job). Remind your child that he or she is an important member of your home and that he needs to be responsible with doing his chores.

Make the consequences for not being responsible fit the crime. And of course be sure to reward/praise your child when he does act responsibly. Behavior that is rewarded tends to reoccur, and behavior that is ignored tends to go away -- so always reward/praise responsible behaviors.

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Family Matters : An Essay on the Family

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FAMILY MATTERS was the headline that caught my attention in the newspaper.

That's the name of my radio program here in California's central valley. It was interesting enough for me to buy the paper and read the story.

The article was about a recent study called The National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health, a survey of about 90,000 teenagers (age 12-18). The sub-headline was "Study debunks belief nothing works with teens." (Whose belief is that?)

The reporter wrote as if a new revelation had just been handed down from heaven in the form of this study.

As a result of this major study on adolescents, she wrote, we have found that "families are more important than previously thought, perhaps as important as peers. . . The primacy of peer relationships has been a widely held concept among professionals since the 1960's."

Yes, the reporter, and the researchers, were shocked to find out that the family is still important!

"These findings offer the parents of America a blueprint for what works in protecting their kids from harm," said Richard Udry of UNC Chapel Hill.

What is this amazing, secret blueprint that will now be revealed to you parents who are assumed to not know any better?

"The most significant finding is that the teenagers who reported feeling close to their families were the least likely to engage in any of the risky behaviors studied . . . Nearly as important were high expectations from the parents for their teenager's school performance."

I'm stunned.

They surveyed 90,000 kids to find out that families that love, care for, and nurture each other produce kids who don't get in trouble as much as families that cast their kids into the hands of other teenagers (known as the "peer group") to be raised by a pack of 15 year olds.

Also, families where parents actually CARE about school performance, and expect their kids to work to their potential produce kids who don't get into trouble as much as families who don't care.

I'm glad science has finally come around to this point of view.

How bad are things across America?

Pretty bad for many families

Using a sample size of 12,118 students interviewed, here's the picture of teenagers in America today:

  • Teens who smoke - 25 percent
  • Smoked marijuana at least once in past month - 11 percent
  • Used alcohol more than once in past month - 17 percent
  • Attempted suicide in past year - 3 percent
  • Seventh and Eight Graders who have engaged in sex - 16 percent
  • High Schoolers (9th - 12th grades) who have engaged in sex - 48 percent
  • "The only factor that was linked with a lower risk factor across the board was a close-knit family, the study found."

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Hope is More Valuable Than Money

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Asperger's, Focus, and Making Millions : A True Story

Everybody is Really Good at Something

Summary: As I was reading an economics blog I came across a link to this article that I would highly recommend to all of you who are parents or teachers of ADHD students, Aspergers students, or others with “learning differences.” Even though the article is about an investment strategist, I really think this article offers a more valuable commodity: HOPE.

I have written a lot in the past about those with ADHD being easily distracted or bored with tasks or subjects that just do not interest them, but that if they find something that is interesting to them “the house could burn down around them and they wouldn’t notice” because they can get so focused on the task or subject. Then, typically I have focused on ways to help the ADHD student or adult get the boring or uninteresting task done: classroom interventions, organizational skills, motivation, our eating program, Attend and Memorin, medications, and so on.

But today it occurred to me that I don’t often write about the potential gift of being able to focus on the tasks that one finds interesting “even if the house is burning down around you.”

I think this is because so many things that are expected of our ADHD students, or ADHD adults, are the same things that we expect of everyone else: the ADHD kids in our classrooms are expected to perform the same and learn the same things as everyone else in the classroom of 30 or more students, and ADHD adults at work are expected to get the same amount of work done as the guy in the cubicle next to him.

But what if we let those with ADHD, or Aspergers, or other “disorders” or “learning differences” among us, really focus on the things that they are interested in? I have no doubt that if there is a cure for cancer, or some of these other diseases that attack mankind, that someone on the team that finds the cure will end up being a person with ADHD “hunter-personality” or Aspergers – all highly focused on what interests them but not interested at all in “boring” things.

Through the years I have become a “fan” of home schooling for this reason. It gives our kids the opportunity to focus more on the things that truly interest them, while at the same time learning the “boring” subjects in a one-on-one setting. But this is not an article on home schooling…

I just this morning stumbled upon an article in Vanity Fair Magazine that caught my attention, and I wanted to pass it on to all of you. It is my habit to get up early in the morning to read a wide range of topics throughout the week, from theology to psychology, sports, economics and finance, politics and social issues. As I was reading an economics blog I came across a link to this article that I would highly recommend to all of you who are parents or teachers of ADHD students, Aspergers students, or others with “learning differences.” Even though the article is about an investment strategist, I really think this article offers a more valuable commodity: HOPE.

The article about Michael Burry, and is entitled: Betting on the Blind Side, by Michael Lewis. It is well worth the read. I think everybody is good at something, we just have to find what it is.

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How to Be Successful

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As a parent, how are you defining "success" for your children?

As the parent of a child with ADHD, have you changed the definition of "success" for your ADHD child?

How do you define "success" for yourself as a parent?

How have your ADHD children come to define "success" for themselves?

Our definition of success is


Each of these questions is important for us to think through. Many of us, kids included, only define success in terms of what we have, or what we have accomplished so far in life. Some define success in terms of how society and culture define it, while others have chosen to define "success" through the eyes of God, as best as they can know it.

As for me, I define "success" as "the progressive realization of moral, virtuous, or Godly goals." As I look at my kids and rate their levels of success, or rate myself as their parent, I want to keep in mind what, or rather who, my kids are becoming, rather than what they have accomplished in the past.

As long as I can see my kids on a path toward becoming productive and honorable adults, then I will feel successful as a parent.


I want to encourage each of you to take a long term view in regards to your role as parents. I have received many emails from parents of 4, 5, and 6 year old kids who are having trouble with attention span, or coloring within the lines, or reading, or whatever.

Please relax.

Focus on getting your child onto a road that will lead them to be productive as adults. Teach your children how to be good fathers and mothers to their own children in the future. Teach your kids how to love and serve other people. These are the major lessons.

See life in the context of eternity, and your definition of success will change radically, both for your children and yourself.

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Parent Resources

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Here are several great resources on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - ADD ADHD - that we recommend for parents and teachers.


Visit the ADD ADHD Bookstore at for hundreds of selected books on Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

This site has 100 recommended books on ADHD. Product is provided through, the Internet’s largest book-seller. There are books for parents, teachers, and professionals.


It is very important that you learn about the different types of ADHD, and the specific targeted treatment strategies for each type. This will really help to get you better results - fast!

Here is a FREE resource on the different types of ADHD that you can download in PDF format that will really help!


Visit for information and unique research comparing the effectiveness of stimulant medication such as Ritalin to EEG Neurofeedback training and to the nutraceutical medicine called ATTEND.

Yes, stimulant medication wins, but not by as much as you might think. This is a great site to visit as you consider your treatment options.


Subscribe to our free ADHD Newsletter by Dr. Doug Cowan, our clinical director at NewIdeas.Net. This is a great resource for both parents and teachers. It comes via email, usually every week. And it is free!


The ADD ADHD Links Project has 400 Links to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder sites, service providers, neurofeedback providers, and related links on learning disabilities or other disorders.

This is an outstanding resource. We use it for our own research on ADD ADHD. Check out the Further Study section for very helpful links to research search engines. Bookmark this site!


Our recommended ADHD EATING PROGRAM: Want to try a diet for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

We have provided this resource for free to parents in our practice, and over the internet, for years. It doesn’t work for everyone. In fact it only works for about 25% of those who try it. But if it does work for you, you will think it is the greatest thing in the world! Give it a try. You will know within a month if it will help or not.


Attend is our highly recommended all natural alternative to Ritalin.


VAXA International makes, and sells, all of our recommended nutritional products. They have a great product line of advanced nutraceuticals for men and women too.

Our Clinical Director, Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., serves on their Medical Advisory Board and has a great deal of input into the design and production of VAXA’s products for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


To find a provider in your area, try EEG Spectrum or if you are in Los Angeles, phone them at (818) 789-3491. They have a number of affiliated providers around the USA using their equipment (which is very good equipment). Tell them Doug Cowan sent you. Sue and Siegfried Othmer are old friends, and very nice people.

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Peanut Allergies Triple in Children

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Parents please be advised that the rate of peanut allergies as tripled since 1997, according to a recent study. The study reported that about 1.5% of children have peanut allergies, and about 2% have allergies to either peanuts or other kinds of nuts. So that’s one out of fifty kids are allergic to some kind of nut (walnuts, cashews, or peanuts, etc.), and about one child in every seventy-five has a specific peanut allergy.

School Administrators, teachers, those involved in children’s ministries, baseball coaches, and parents, need to be very sensitive to this.

The study was led by Scott Sicherer, MD, a pediatrician from the Jaffee Food Allergy Institute at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. According to the study more than three million Americans have these nut allergies.

But did they have a theory as to why the number of people with these allergies has more than tripled in the past fifteen years?

There are several ideas, but nothing is for sure. One thought is that because most of us live in fairly clean environments in our homes and neighborhoods (as opposed to living on farms) means that we are exposed to fewer things that would normally stimulate our immune systems and protect us from all sorts of problems. Another thought is that because our society is so quick to use medications whenever we feel sick that our immune systems have been weakened. But no one really knows the “why” for certain.

The study’s authors point out that this was a telephone survey of thousands of people, as opposed to a laboratory or clinical study where people were actually poked or tested, so they advise that there are some inherent problems with telephone surveys. But they still spoke with about 2,500 households representing about 7,000 people, so it was a pretty big sample group.

Again, parents, teachers, coaches, pastors, volunteers, administrators, and anyone else working with children, please be aware that there is a possibility that the child that you are about to offer that handful of nuts to is actually allergic to them. Please consider asking parents before offering kids snacks with nuts.

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TV, Video Games, and Learning Problems

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TV Watching, Video Games, and Learning Problems

Yes, its just like you thought. The more TV you watch, the less you know. And if you watch too much TV, you will be at risk for learning problems and attention problems. The same is true of time spent playing video games. Too much time spent playing video games puts you at risk for learning problems, and attention problems.

And while TV watching may be mildly addictive, video games may be very addictive. In fact, up to 30% of all males who play video games regularly may be physiologically addicted to game playing. The more violent the game is, the more potentially addictive it is.

Parents, understand that your children are growing up in a culture that is far different from the culture that we grew up in. Our children don't know about Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Viet Nam, or even Jimmy Carter.

Our children have far more media and entertainment choices than we ever imagined, and they don’t know that they can live without cell phones, ipods, video games, rental videos, cable TV, and the internet – because they have never known a world without them!

Children and teens live their lives saturated with media. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s most recent study of children ages 8 to 18:

  • Young people spend an average of 6.5 hours per day with entertainment media, or over 44 hours per week!
  • Since young people often multi-task with media, they are actually exposed to about 8.5 hours of entertainment media every day, or about 60 hours per week.
  • TV, videos, and music are the dominant entertainment media, averaging 4 hours every day.
  • Internet use for fun averages about 1 hour per day.
  • Playing of video games averages 1 hour per day.
  • By comparison, reading books, magazines, or newspapers averages only 45 minutes per day. Doing chores averages 30 minutes per day, and doing homework averages 50 minutes per day.

Of course, we parents have created this media entertainment environment for our children and teens to grow up in.

Our homes average 3.6 CD players, 3.5 television sets, 3.3 radios, 3.9 DVD players, 2.1 video game consoles, and 1.5 computers. In fact, 25% of children are growing up in homes with five or more TV sets!

A new study was just published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine by Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the New York State Psychiatric Institute research team led by Jeffrey Johnson, and Tara Stevens of Texas Tech University.

This study shows that teenagers who spent a lot of time watching TV were more likely to have attention and learning problems “that persist, and interfere with their long-term educational achievement.”

The researchers advise parents to limit the amount of time they let their children watch TV (or we would add any entertainment that is similar to TV viewing, such as video game play) to less than two hours per day, adding that they should only watch quality programming.

They specifically noted that video games have little educational value, and may promote attention problems in children. We are concerned by other studies that show that violent video games, they kind that can cause the release of adrenalin, can be highly addictive, and that about 30% of boys who play these games are already addicted to them.

The researchers found that watching TV for three or more hours per day at the age of 14 often resulted in attention problems, failure to complete homework, boredom at school, failure to complete high school, poor grades, negative attitudes about school, overall academic failure in high school later on, and failure to go on to college.

This list looks a lot like a list for someone abusing drugs too, doesn’t it? We have always been concerned that TV viewing acts on the brain much like a narcotic, and that too much viewing can be addictive. Though this study doesn’t address that issue, the list of results from too much viewing is certainly troubling.

The researcher conclude that we should restrict the time that our children and teens spend viewing TV or playing video games.

By the way parents, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two years of age not watch TV at all.

TV watching by infants has shown to be associated with problems of attention control, aggressive behavior, and poor mental development. The AAP views excessive television viewing by infants as “one of the major public health issues facing American children.”

Parents, its time that we come to understand that TV and video games are not our friends, and they are not our children’s friends.

We were not created to spend 40 hours per week inside our rooms, sitting on sofas, playing video games or watching TV shows. We were made to move, to go outside and play, to work, to interact with others, to make conversation, to think.

It is time for us to re-evaluate how we let our children live their lives. It is time for us to re-evaluate our own lives.

What is truly important to you?

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Ten Tips for Healthy Parenting

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Parenting Tips for Parents of ADHD Children

Here are a few tips that I hope will be helpful to you as you invest your day in raising our next generation. Feel free to leave other "quick tips" in the comments at the bottom of the page for others to read!

  • Know the difference between big things and little things.
  • Know the difference between incompetence and rebelliousness.

    If you child does something out of incompetence, then take the time to teach your child how to do it right.

    If your child acts out of rebellion toward your authority as a parent, then this behavior needs to be disciplined or punished, and cannot be tolerated or accepted.

  • The word "discipline" means "to teach, to shape, to mold, or to perfect." Remember this.
  • Be firm, be consistent, and build a personal relationship with your child.
  • Be careful not to become overly performance oriented with your children.

    Your children are more than just homework, reports, and chores. There is a real person there who has hopes, dreams, fears, likes and dislikes. Get to personally know your child.

  • Quality time is no substitute for quantity time.

    The average father in America spends only 47 seconds a day in conversation with his children. But I am sure that it is "quality time."

  • Be a positive person, and a positive role model for your child.

    The best predictor of how your child will be when he is 30-40 years old is how YOU are as a person today. Be a positive influence on your child socially, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

  • Make the effort to catch your child doing something right every day.
  • Teach your child how to be successful. But first, take the time to figure out in your own life what it means to be "successful."

    Is it just having more money or stuff? Or is there more to your life than that?

  • Teach your child self-control and respect for others.
  • Know the difference between being a "parent" and being a "friend."

    You are the parent. That is your responsibility and right. Don't trade it for merely being a friend.

  • Parenting is not about being "liked" by your child. It is about doing what is "right" for your child.

    Always do what is right, even if your child doesn't like it. You are the adult and you know what is "right" and what is "wrong." Your child is just a child and needs to be taught by YOU what is right and wrong. Be strong and do the right thing.

  • Wise King Solomon said that "foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child."

    Our children start of with "foolishness" and need to be taught "wisdom." We are given 18 to 22 years to teach our children wisdom - they don't start off with it, we have to teach it.

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Tips on Non-Compliant Children

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Some Tips for Parents on Non-Compliant Children

Non-compliance is the family therapist's big word for your child not obeying you when you have asked him or her to do something. The child may be rebellious, scream "no" to your face, and slam the door. Or the child may say "yes, I'd be glad to help," smile, and go play the X-box. But either way the child does not do what you asked him to do. The word is helpful because it is descriptive, and because it may also motivate us as parents to move our kids from being non-compliant to being compliant.

Defining Non-Compliance

Here's how we are going to define the term "non-compliance" in children:

  1. The child fails to begin doing what he was clearly asked to do within a reasonable amount of time, which would easily be 15 seconds.
  2. The child fails to keep doing what he was asked to do until the job is finished.
  3. The child fails to follow previously taught rules of conduct in a specific situation, such as at church, at school, at the store, or with friends.

Non-Compliance in Children, Some Tips for Parents

When your child is non-compliant you need to take action.

You simply cannot ignore the behavior hoping that it will go away. In fact, non-compliant behavior can be “self-reinforcing” or “self-rewarding” behavior. In other words, every time your child gets away with not doing what you had asked him to do, he feels “rewarded.” And behavior that is “rewarded” tends to re-occur. So every time your child gets away with being non-compliant it increases the odds that he will be non-compliant the next time too.

Here are some really good resources to read...

Deal with the situation immediately yourself. And in very tough situations consider getting some professional help. In fact, non-compliance in children is the most frequent complaint of parents seeking help in clinics. It is frustrating to parents, and underlies most negative interactions between family members (parents, and siblings) and the child.

Disruptive behaviors, aggressive behaviors, or explosive behaviors, usually do not occur randomly. Instead they occur in "bursts" and are usually associated with either having asked the child to do something around the house, or after having been asked for something by the child and the parents responds with a “no.”

Over the years I have developed some presuppositions with respect to children and their behavior. I'd like to pass this on to you, as parents, with the hope that it will help you in dealing with a non-compliant child. They are:

  • Kids are weird. Children do not think like adults do. Their brains are not as mature, not as large, not as capable as adult brains are. Children do not process information as adults do. They cannot see or understand the world around them as adults do.
  • Kids are fools. This is not original with me. King Solomon, reflecting on his growing family (he had 1,000 wives and who knows how many children) said this a long time ago. "Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child," is the way he put it. Simply said, "Kids will do foolish things, they are not yet wise." It is our job as parents to teach them wisdom.
  • Have realistic expectations. We often expect more out of our kid's behavior than we expect from our own behavior. We want others to excuse faults in us, yet we will expect perfection in our children. When we have a difficult child, it is a great opportunity for us to become more humble, and to examine our own lives and actions too.
  • Children do most things, good or bad, on purpose. Child behavior is not random. Sometimes your child will misbehave on purpose. When he does, it is because he is testing you. He is observing you to see how you will react. He wants to know if you will ignore the behavior, or excuse it, or just do the chore yourself. He wants to know if you will react with anger, guilt, or wisdom. Draw the line now, act with wisdom and righteousness, or you will be sorry later.

Here are two phrases for parents to remember in understanding your children:

A child's behavior occurs because of

  1. who the child is,
  2. what the child knows about you, and
  3. what the child wants from you.

The child will do things either

  • to ESCAPE or AVOID SOMETHING that he does not want to do or have.

So please spend enough time with your child to let him know that you are on his side, and that you want the best for him.

There are certain things that our children need to know in order to be successful in life, and one of those things is knowing how to listen and obey parents. Stay the course and be consistent with teaching your child wisdom and compliance.

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Virtual Idols and Addictions

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I'm beginning to prepare for a parent-teen seminar that I will be leading in January on "Virtual Idols and Addictions," and the more I study the more my heart is saddened. I am learning things that as a parent I never wanted to know, but need to be aware of. And I guess that someone had told me some of these things ten years ago, so that maybe I could have made things easier for my own kids growing up.

I want to pass some of these things on to you, so that you can be warned, and so that you can begin as a parent to prepare yourselves to deal with these issues in your own home with your teenagers. So here are some excerpts from a press release in our local paper promoting the seminar...

Virtual Idols and Addictions : Video Games, Texting, and Worse

Can a person become addicted to something that doesn’t really exist, except in a virtual world? Is there in fact the danger of becoming physically “hooked” on video games, electronic entertainment, cell phones, or cyber sex? What kind of an impact is the electronic entertainment industry making in our culture, and in the lives of our teenagers today?

The whole idea of addiction to video games or to other electronic media is a new concept. No one ever explored the idea before the year 2001, and really, no one had to ever even look at the possibility before 1997 when the internet began to become popular. Think of how fast the internet has grown! Just fifteen years ago very few people had even heard of such a thing as an “internet.” Today we act as if we can barely survive without it.

The video gaming industry has grown over the past ten years to a 33 billion dollar per year giant. Video games are one of the biggest and most consistent influences in the lives of our children and teenagers today, with over 80% owning one or more video game consoles, most of which are kept in the teen or child’s bedroom where parents have little or no supervision over what is being played or how many hours are being spent playing.

David Walsh, Ph.D. from the AMA has estimated that as many as 20% of children and teens (mostly males) are addicted to video games. Gaming addicts show all of the classic symptoms of drug addicts, or other addicts, including dependence, tolerance, withdrawals, and mood disorders. Adrenaline is released, dopamine surges, and the brain gets “hooked.”

Virtual Idols are not limited to video games. Female brains are stimulated by conversations on phones in ways that no one would have considered thirty years ago. And now that everyone has a cell phone, teen girls can talk on the phone nearly all day, every day, constantly stimulating pleasure centers of the brain in ways that begin to train the brain to seek out the activity more and more. One researcher notes that, “It used to be that girls called friends on the phone when they ‘had a feeling’ to share, now they have to call friends in order to ‘get a feeling.’”

It gets worse. A new study funded by Cosmo Girl reports that 20% of teens, mostly girls, have sent either nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves via their cell phones to others, or have posted online, and about 40% of teens are sending sexually suggestive messages via text or email. According to the study, the problem grows as young people enter their 20’s. Once this sexually oriented material is sent to the intended recipient, it often gets forwarded to others including complete strangers, or posted on a website for the entire world to see. See for the study.

And that’s not all. The biggest problem of all is internet pornography addiction, particularly in males (70% of those visiting porn sites are males, 30% are females), beginning as young as age 12. In fact, The largest group of viewers of Internet porn is children between ages 12 and 17. The Internet pornography industry generates $12 billion dollars in annual revenue-more than the combined annual revenues of ABC, NBC, and CBS (Family Safe Media, January 10, 2006) and has over 450,000,000 million web pages of porn online. Searches for “sex” or “porn” in the top ten search terms on Google or Yahoo search engines.

Addiction to internet porn has neurological roots. Dr. Jeffrey Satinover writes, ". . . modern science allows us to understand that the underlying nature of an addiction to pornography is chemically nearly identical to a heroin addiction," and Dr. Judith Reisman reports that, "Pornography triggers a myriad of endogenous, internal, natural drugs that mimic the ‘high' from a street drug. Addiction to pornography is addiction to what I dub erototoxins – mind altering drugs produced by the viewer's own brain."

Parents are barely aware that these problems exist, and are not equipped to deal with these problems in their own teens as these problems did not even exist just fifteen years ago. In fact, our society is just now beginning to come to grips with the reality of the situation in the virtual electronic world. Certainly no one has a good grip on just what the consequences will be for families or society in the future. No society has ever walked down this road before.

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