Archive for Parenting

Is There a Role For Guns in Parenting?

gun 300x222 Is There a Role For Guns in Parenting?In February 2012, this video was uploaded to youtube. It is a video of a dad expressing his upset with his daughter’s insulting rant on Facebook. He then takes out a gun and shoots her laptop (with hollow point exploding bullets, no less…).

This video went viral. At the time of this post (June 27, 2012) there are over 33 million views of this video. You can watch the video below, if you’d like.

While this dad expresses the frustrations that many parents feel with their teens in this electronic/facebook era, the question is: Is there a role for guns in parenting?

During this video, the dad explains that his daughter has so many things given to her, and yet she complains so much. She complains that she is being treated like a slave, when in fact the chores she is responsible for are quite few and very reasonable. Her comments are very disrespectful to her parents.

Teens today have a sense of entitlement that seems far beyond what generations past had. Even kids in families with financial challenges push their parents to get video games, electronics, music downloads, $200 headphones, etc. And there is often a lack of real appreciation and gratitude.

Of course, not all kids act this way – there are many great teens as well… But that’s not the topic for this post.

And when it comes to teens with ADHD, these issues are often more of a challenge, because of oppositional behavior with parents and teachers, which may increase the defiance they show. And because of social challenges that many teens with ADHD have, they may be more likely to post impulsively on Facebook, and that can lead to more trouble for them later on…

Acknowledging that this teen crossed the line in her facebook post, the question is – is the Dad’s response to her reasonable?

Let’s review what her dad did:

  1. He accessed her facebook and found the offending post.
  2. He recorded a video expressing his disappointment and anger with her – and didn’t show it to her – he posted it to Youtube and her Facebook wall. Youtube let the whole world see it, and Facebook let her friends see it.
  3. He pulled out a gun and shot her laptop to teach her a lesson.

Let’s analyze these ‘parenting strategies’:

1) Accessing Your Teen’s Facebook Account to look at their posts:

This parenting strategy gets the thumbs up.

In the unmoderated world of social media, teens can post things which are self degrading, harmful to others and themselves. And their posts create an online reputation that can follow them forever. Can you imagine this young woman applying for a job in 10 years as an early childhood educator? What would they say when they saw her comments about her parents in her Facebook profile? Material posted online can be archived for a very long time.

So, it is important for parents to monitor and help their kids and teens to be thoughtful and careful about what they post on their social media pages and profiles. So, I support this dad’s approach on this one.

2) Recording a Video Response to Your Teen’s Misbehavior and Posting It Online:

This parenting strategy gets a thumbs down from me.

When a parent is disappointed with his teen’s posting of a ‘rant’ against her parents online, and he wants to discipline her for it – why is he using the same offending behavior? i.e. he is saying it is not right to do that, and yet he is doing it himself back to her…

What message will she get from this act?

She’ll learn that her dad won’t take any crap, and that he’ll find her posts online, so she should be careful. She also learns that if she embarrasses her dad on Facebook, he’ll embarrass her more. And she learns that the way to problem solve when someone is publicly rude, is to publicly retaliate.

Huh?

Is that what this dad wants to teach her? That when you are upset with someone, you publicly retaliate and humiliate?

Not the best approach…

3) Finally, Using a Gun to Teach His Daughter a Lesson:

This parenting strategy also gets a thumbs down.

By using a gun to shoot up his daughter’s laptop, he’s using an aggressive way to show that he is in charge. What does that teach her? It teaches her that when you want to get the upper hand in a situation, firearms (or aggression) is the solution.

Not the best parenting message.

This dad does successfully deliver the message that he is in charge, and he’s not going to take it anymore. However, he is humiliating his teen, and solving this issue publicly and with violence (even though he has a seemingly quiet and calm tone when he talks).

My Recommendations:

Here are my recommendations for parents dealing with similar issues (as a Child Psychiatrist and ADHD Expert):

If your child does something like this, and you are very angry – work on finding a parenting approach that gets your message across clearly, and does not use behavior that you don’t want your child using.

If you want your child to learn that it is OK to solve your problems and upsets by publicly humiliating the person who upset you (publicly as in online – or other offline ways of publicly humiliating someone), and using a firearm, then use the approach as demonstrated by this dad.

On the other hand, if you want to use disciplinary approaches which demonstrate behavior that you want to encourage in your child, find approaches that work with your child and model the behavior that you want your child to develop. For example, discussing the issue privately, creating fair but firm consequences and sticking to them, and escalating the punishment for repeat offenses.

If you are struggling to do this effectively, there are many great parenting resources out there. Many people have found the chapter on parenting in my book Attention Difference Disorder helpful to them, and there many other great parenting books out there.

Also, talk to your doctor for help, or access resources from a mental health center, counselling center, or even your church or religious community. There is help out there for parents who are struggling. Remember, even though in our modern western society, we often don’t access our community as much as generations past did, there are people who would be willing to support, help and guide you.

My hope for you is that you find effective parenting strategies that work, and model the behavior that you want your child to learn (so, in 15 years, they don’t parent with a video camera, an internet connection, and a handgun).

What is your reaction to this parenting approach? Do you agree with this dad using a gun to prove his point? Do you agree with me? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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ADHD and Post-Term Births… Don’t Believe Everything You Read

sleep 300x200 ADHD and Post Term Births... Dont Believe Everything You ReadA new study just came out in the International Journal of Epidemiology, called: “Post-term birth and the risk of behavioural and emotional problems in early childhood”. It was published online on May 3, 2012.

The press have widely reported that this study shows that when a pregnancy goes beyond 42 weeks, then a child is more than two times more likely to develop ADHD in early childhood.

You can find many media references to the study, and here is the link to a BBC article entitled: Overdue babies: ‘Risks for those born after 42 weeks’.

I am largely annoyed with the difference between what the study reports, and what the press are saying.

What The Study Reports:

First of all, this study is very interesting from the perspective that we often think about prematurity as a risk factor for ADHD, as well as other medical, learning and emotional issues. However, we don’t really think of a baby being ‘post dates’ as an issue for ADHD or other emotional or learning issues. The researchers point out that as a pregnancy goes beyond 40 weeks, the placenta may not be able to meet all of the needs of the baby, and thus going past dates may cause problems too.

This study followed the pregnancies of 5145 children in a large population-based prospective cohort study in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Mothers enrolled between 2001 and 2005. Of the births, 382 (7%) were born post term. The researchers had all of the mothers complete the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at the ages of 1.5 and 3 years old. This questionnaire has parents rate a wide range of symptoms in their children, and then the software calculates the scores, and provides a rating (based on parent report) on several different scales of emotional functioning – such as: anxiety, depression, somatic symptoms, ADHD, aggressive behavior, etc.

Please realize that questionnaires do not diagnose ADHD. Questionnaires can provide data, which can help an experienced clinician to conduct a more detailed assessment to see if ADHD (or any other condition) is actually there.

The research report says: “post-term born children had a higher risk for overall problem behaviour [odds ratio (OR)?=?2.10, 95% confidence interval (CI)?=?1.32–3.36] and were almost two and a half times as likely to have attention deficit / hyperactivity problem behaviour (OR?=?2.44, 95% CI?=?1.38–4.32).”

Let me highlight an important point there: “two and a half times as likely to have attention deficit / hyperactivity problem behaviour“. The questionnaire doesn’t diagnose ADHD, rather it points out that these children have more ‘ADHD problem behavior’ compared to babies born at term.

As an experience clinician and expert in ADHD, I know that it can be very difficult to diagnose kids with ADHD at a young age. It certainly can be done at 3 years old, but I am very cautious about a diagnosis at that age, and I certainly put a lot more work into it than just having the parents fill out a questionnaire. Personally, I would find this information more reliable if the researchers were able to provide follow up at school age – i.e. at 6 years old. That would give us a better idea of how the child was doing (of course I do understand that there are big issues with funding, timing, etc., but I still would love to see data at 6 years old).

Furthermore, I am left wondering: “is the relationship between post-term birth and ‘ADHD problem behavior’ truly a causal relationship?”
In other words, if we accept that the behavior ratings at 3 years old are accurate (i.e. there are more ADHD problem behaviors), then do we know for sure that this was caused by post-term birth?

Maybe there was another variable at play here.

In a cohort of over 5000 women, approximately 4% of them would be expected to have ADHD. That works out to about 200 women. It would be much more likely for these women to have children with ADHD problem behaviors irrespective of when their child was born (premature, on time, or post-dates). And what if they were more likely to refuse intervention from the doctor, and wait for nature to take its course? Then we may believe that it is going ‘post dates’ that is causing ADHD type symptoms, when in fact, we are just screening out for moms who have ADHD symptoms. Now, I have no science to back this up, and I do not believe that the mothers were screened themselves for ADHD. So this is complete conjecture. But, I think it’s an interesting theory.

Before I get flaming comments here, I’m not suggesting that women who refuse induction of labor, or who want to let nature take its course all have ADHD. Far from it. I’m just putting forward a theory which may refute the theory that it is a causal relationship between post-dates birth and developing ADHD.

What The Media Is Reporting:

The media is reporting that kids born post-dates (i.e. after 42 weeks) are over 2 times as likely to have ADHD. I read one report which went so far as to suggest that mothers should consider having a C-section before 42 weeks to help to prevent ADHD (I can’t find the exact news report to link to here, but trust me, I read it).

In Summary:
As you can see based on what I wrote above, I believe that these claims are over-simplified. I am not convinced that post-term births increase the risk of ADHD. This study has opened my eyes to the possibility that post-term births may be a risk factor for ADHD, or possibly other learning or behavioral issues, but it is by no means conclusive research. It’s my opinion that the media are over-simplifying this, and it may create more backlash and stigma for ADHD patients and their moms (like the mother-in-law saying: “I told you you should have listened to the doctor and had an induction of your labor at 41 weeks. The fact that you waited too long caused my grandson’s ADHD…”).

What do you think? How do you respond to the research, and the media reporting of it?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,
Dr. Kenny

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Family Meetings For Parenting ADHD Kids

As a parent of a child or teen with ADD/ADHD, you’re likely always looking for parenting strategies that work. If you’re like many parents that I work with, you find some that work, and then after a while, your child (gotta love ‘em :-)) goes and changes, and then you feel like you’re back to the drawing board.

One of the strategies that can be very helpful, and is often not taught – is having family meetings. Family meetings – when they are done well – can be very helpful (and if they are done poorly, they can really back fire!).
That’s why I’ve interviewed ADD Coach Diane O’Reilly for this coaching video for you. She discusses how to run a Family Meeting to help your family to function better. And not only is Diane a trained, expert coach, but as you’ll hear – she has 4 boys – three of whom have ADHD (and one is on the ‘borderline’, she says), and she herself has ADHD. So Diane knows how to use this strategy to make family life run better.

Just click play to watch this video:

Click here for iPhone/iPad compatible video.

If you’ve found this video helpful, and you’d like to join our coaching training call on Monday February 13th at 8 pm Eastern time (or even if you can’t make it live, you can get the recordings), just click here to join the “Insiders” program:
Join ADD/ADHD Insiders

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Practice Gratitude Regulary

This past week, it was US Thanksgiving. When it’s Thanksgiving, people (generally) have a great time with friends and family, and have a wonderful, satisfying meal together.

And… most people take some time to consider what they are thankful for.

I am thankful for so many things. Including:

  • My Family and Friends
  • My Health
  • My profession, and the ability I have to help people on a day to day basis
  • The fact that I was born at the time I was (we live in amazing times, with incredible opportunities)
  • The fact that I was born in Canada (it may get cold here, but it is one of the best countries in the world, in my opinion)

And I’m also thankful to you - my blog reader or subscriber – because you’ve chosen to share your journey with ADD/ADHD with me, and you allow me to come onto your computer screen, or into your email inbox to share my thoughts, perspective and advice. I also really appreciate your comments, feedback and participation in the dialogue.

Now – I love Thanksgiving, and I think it is a wonderful yearly ritual.

And I encourage you to practice gratitude more regularly than once a year.

When I say ‘practice gratitude’, I mean that I encourage you to take a few moments, and quiet yourself down. Get comfortable, slow your breathing, and even close your eyes. Think about who and what you are grateful and thankful for. And then feel the feelings of gratitude and love for what you are focusing on. This exercise can take just a moment, and it can be tremendously helpful for you.

When you achieve a state of gratitude (with true feeling and emotion), it changes how you feel, as well as how you interact with the world and others. This can help you in our stressed out, overly busy world – especially if you have ADD/ADHD yourself, or if it’s in your family.

I encourage you to practice gratitude regularly – ideally daily.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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Stop Your Child’s Negative Thoughts

Kids and teens with ADD/ADHD often have what we can call: “Gremlins”. These can also be called: ANTS = Automatic Negative Thoughts.

Everybody gets these, but automatic negative thoughts can be particularly difficult and damaging to kids and teens with ADHD.

And, most of the time, parents feel helpless (or helpless and frustrated) when they can’t seem to help their kids get past these negative thoughts.

ADD Coaching Diane O’Reilly (from Indigo Tree Coaching) is featured in this video which discusses this issue and will help parents to better understand the issue of ‘gremlins’ and also give you some strategies to help you to help your teens.

Step 1: Watch this video:

Step 2: Join us for a live ADD Coaching call for the Attention Difference Disorder Insiders Membership site. The live call is on: Monday November 21st at 8 pm Eastern Time.
[hyperlink family="impact,chicago" size="18" color="B10000" textshadow="1" alignment="center" weight="bold" style="normal" lineheight="110" linkurl="http://attentiondifferencedisorder.com/members/join-insiders/" linkwindow="_blank"]Join Insiders >>>[/hyperlink]
We hope this information will help you to get your kids ‘unstuck’ from their gremlins.
Best,
Dr. Kenny
p.s. There are many more benefits to being an ‘Insider’. Click here to learn more.

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Back to School with ADHD

The end of the summer presents unique challenges for parents of kids and teens with ADHD – as they work to get their kids back into the routine for school.

We all want our kids to start off the year right, and to do the best that they can do this year at school.

I wrote an article on ‘back to school’ a couple of summers ago – and you can access it here: back to school with ADHD.

This year, on Wednesday August 17, 2011 at 8 pm Eastern time – I’ll be doing an interview on Attention Talk Radio about getting back to school.

You can read the information from the news release here:

DIG Coaching Practice Presents “Back to School with ADHD” on Attention Talk Radio with Host Jeff Copper and Psychiatrist, Dr. Kenny Handelman
Transitions can be difficult for those with ADHD, especially for children headed back to school. Host Jeff Copper talks with Dr. Kenny Handelman about strategies to transition back to school after the freedom of summer by gradually reintroducing homework.

Tampa, FL, August 09, 2011 –(PR.com)– Attention Talk Radio, produced by DIG Coaching Practice, presents “Back to School with ADHD” with Kenny Handelman MD. Attention coach and host Jeff Copper talks with Dr. Handelman about the challenges facing ADHD children when it’s time to return to school after summer vacation. According to Dr. Handelman, the transition can be difficult for ADHD children, but parents can help prepare for the change by easing their ADHD child into it. Dr. Handelman shares strategies and tips for a smooth transition back to a routine after a summer of freedom.

Dr. Handelman, a board-certified psychiatrist in both the US and Canada, specializes in assessing and treating children and adolescents with ADHD. His practice is established at the Halton Healthcare Services in Oakville Trafalgar Hospital near Toronto, Canada. He is an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Western Ontario where he won an excellence in teaching award in 2006. He teaches parents, kids, and educators about ADHD. He has appeared on TV and radio, talking about ADHD, and maintains a number of websites and an ADHD newsletter to give evidence-based, up-to-date, online information about ADD/ADHD. His websites garner more than half a million visitors each year.

He is the author of Attention Difference Disorder: How to Turn Your ADHD Child or Teen’s Differences into Strengths in 7 Simple Steps, foreword by Edward Hallowell MD. The book was released in June 2011. More information is available at www.attentiondifferencedisorder.com.

The program will be aired on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, at 8 pm ET, on Attention Talk Radio, a live, interactive, Internet talk-radio show hosted each week by attention coach Jeff Copper. The show focuses on insight and insightful thinking, preparing the mind to solve problems through insight or the sudden comprehension after viewing something in a different light. The show is hosted on a web-based platform so that anyone with a phone or a computer can listen, participate, or interact with the show.

The public is encouraged to participate by calling 646-652-4409 to listen or ask questions. The show schedule, stream, and archives are available at www.attentiontalkradio.com immediately following the show. Listeners can also subscribe to the archives via the RSS feed located on the host page or on iTunes.

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7 Crucial Tips for Parents and Teachers of Children with ADHD

I want to share with you a free resource which I think you will find very helpful.

Bryan Hutchinson has authored 3 books on ADHD, and several free ebooks. I’m writing to share with you about one of the free ebooks which I think you’ll find very helpful.

In this ebook, Bryan shares 7 crucial tips for parents and teachers of children with ADHD. These tips are very good. Bryan writes with great understanding of what kids and teens with ADD/ADHD need, because of the fact that he grew up with undiagnosed ADHD. He was diagnosed as an adult, and has looked back on the challenges of his childhood. Fortunately for us – Bryan has chosen to share his experiences and insights to help us to understand better what goes on for kids and teens with ADD/ADHD (whether they are undiagnosed, or diagnosed).

This free ebook is: an easy read, useful, and practical. There is wisdom in these (virtual) pages. I encourage you to claim your copy of this ebook right now.

You can get your free copy here: 7 Crucial Tips for Parents and Teachers of Children with ADHD

If you find the information helpful, why not learn more from Bryan?

You can get copies of his other ADHD books here. (I particularly recommend ‘One Boy’s Struggle’)

And, of course, because this ebook is free – you are allowed to pass it along to other people who you think may benefit from it.

Enjoy!

Dr. Kenny

p.s. here’s the link again to the free ebook:

7 Crucial Tips for Parents and Teachers of Children with ADHD

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Great Teachers for ADD?

We just posted an article to this blog about good communication strategies for parents to use with their child’s teacher.

We’d love to hear from you, as well as other readers from our online community.

Has your son or daughter had a teacher who has made a tremendous difference in your child’s life?

Please take a moment and share some comments below – we’d love to hear about it.

… and it could help to inspire other teachers, and let some parents know what is possible.

Personally, I remember many of my teachers over the years who had a dramatic impact on me. I remember them well, and I have stories about how they went ‘above and beyond’.

Please share your comments and experiences below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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ADHD in School: Parent Teacher Communication

One of the cornerstones of ADD/ADHD treatment is strategies which help at school. Academic challenges are one of the main reasons that people are referred for assessment and treatment of ADD/ADHD.

Treatment of ADD/ADHD needs to be ‘multimodal’ – i.e. more than just medication! We need counseling, strategies, as well as parenting strategies and school strategies.

When it comes to school strategies – parent-teacher communication is one of the cornerstones of the strategies that work.

Why is this?

Because your child is with the teacher for so many hours a day, and the teacher is the one who is evaluating your child, giving feedback to your child, and helping (or not helping) your child to get the right resources in the school.

Best Approaches To Good Communication With The Teacher:

  1. Respect the role that the teacher plays
  2. Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure
  3. Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups
  4. If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office
  5. If all else fails, Part 2: aim for the right teacher next year

Now let’s go through these one by one.

1) Respect the role that the teacher plays:

Teachers play a tremendously important role in our children’s lives. They teach our kids, and they also model good behavior, and evaluate how our children are doing. As they evaluate, they get an idea as to whether our children have increased symptoms of inattention, or hyperactivity, or sadness or even anxiety, for that matter.

Teachers can’t diagnose ADHD, and they can’t recommend medication, but they can let you know that your child may be having difficulties, and you should talk to your doctor.

Remember – the teacher will see your child in different circumstances than you see them in – so your child may display symptoms in a different way in school (i.e. you don’t see them doing math work in a class with 25 other children…). It is important to respectfully listen to the teacher’s feedback, and then take action on it. Don’t get defensive! This can just make things harder…

2) Understand that the teacher is often under tremendous pressure:

Realize that teachers are often asked to give more and more to their classes, with less and less resources. Even great teachers can get tired and frustrated with administrative issues and financial pressures. Be sure to share your appreciation for what your child’s teacher is doing to help your child to succeed. Like all people, teachers like to be appreciated. And they will be more likely to do more to help when they feel that what they are doing is helping and being appreciated.

3) Book a meeting early in the school year, with regular follow ups

Many parents wait for the teacher to call them for meetings. If you know your child has ADD/ADHD, be proactive. Contact the teacher early in the year, and let him or her know that your child has ADD/ADHD, and you’d like to touch base to discuss strategies that work. Even when teachers have notes on your child, the beginning of the school year is so hectic, that the teacher will usually appreciate the opportunity to hear from you about what works best for your son or daughter.

This first meeting also sets the tone of you being a proactive parent, who wants to keep in touch and work collaboratively with the teacher about your son or daughter. That can help a lot as the months go on through the school year.

Aim to have regular communication with the teacher. You can either ask to meet in person every 6 weeks, or if the teacher is OK with email, you can use that for weekly updates. Maybe a parent-teacher communication book would be ideal. Ask the teacher, and then work on your end to support that mode of communication. Remember – you should be more flexible! So, if the teacher wants to write in a communication book, and you prefer email – just accept the communication book!

4) If all else fails, Part 1: get help from the office

Sometimes, despite the best efforts (on both the parent and teacher’s side) the communication doesn’t work well. There can be frustrations and challenges. If that is the case – seek help from the office.

Often times a guidance counselor, special ed teacher, or even the Vice-Principal or Principal can get involved to help to smooth things out with the teacher if things aren’t going well. They may also be able to get more resources into the classroom to help your child on  a day to day basis.

5) If all else fails, Part 2: Aim for the right teacher next year

Actually, this idea holds whether your child has had a great year, or a not-so-great year this year. In the spring, ask the teacher, or the guidance counselor, “who would be the best teacher to help my son/daughter next year?”

Although staff in the school would never say: ‘make sure that Jim doesn’t get Mr. Smith’, they would say that, ‘We think Jim would do much better with Mr. Jones.’ This allows them to try to find the best match for your child.

Be sure to ask early enough toward the end of the school year to make sure that the school can have time to put the recommendation into effect for the next school year. Shouldn’t they do this already? Maybe… But they have so many administrative things to think about, that they may not come up with this without your reminder/request.

Hopefully these recommendations can help you to communicate well with your child’s teacher. Good communication with the teacher can make a great difference in your child’s outcome for any given school year.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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4 Ways To Get ADHD Kids to Read

Author Rick Riordan wrote the best selling Percy Jackson books (the first of which was also made into a great movie). These books started as bedtime stories for his son – who has ADHD and Dyslexia.

Mr. Riordan shares 4 ways to encourage reading in your ADHD child.

These are:

  1. Model reading at home
  2. Match your children with the right books
  3. Create a productive environment for reading
  4. Most importantly, keep the long view.

You can read Mr. Riordan’s detailed advice in his article here. He shares a refreshingly positive view of ADHD kids and teens. This article is definitely worth a read.

Do you have any strategies which help you to promote reading in your ADHD child or teen? Please share them with us in the comments below.

Best,

Dr. Kenny

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