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Top Principles of ADHD Management

by Martin L. Kutscher, M.D.

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Top Principles of ADHD Management
Cover image courtesy of Jessica Kingsley Publishers

[Reprinted from the book ADHD: Living Without Brakes by Martin L. Kutscher, M.D.; copyright © 2008 Martin L. Kutscher; published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Reprinted with permission. This article may not be reproduced for any other use without permission.]

1. Keep a sense of humor. Get “a kick” out of the kid. Seek to enjoy, not to scream.

2. Celebrate the ADHD person’s humor, creativity, and passion. Hate ADHD, not the person with it.

3. Kids with ADHD will either require ongoing support before they mess up, or negative rewards after they mess up. Which kind of help do you want to provide?

4. You do not have a standard child. You can view the issue as a disability. Or, you can view it as wonderful uniqueness. Or, you can view it as both. The perspective of “standard,” though, is not an option.

5. Recognize that attention issues in the child are only the tip of the iceberg that the whole family must address.

6. The “patient” in ADHD is the whole family.

7. Instead of punishing wrong behavior, set a reward for the correct behavior you would rather replace it with. Rewards should be immediate, frequent, powerful, clearly defined, and consistent.

8. Plan ahead. Give warnings before transitions. Discuss in advance what is expected. Have the child repeat out loud the terms he just agreed to.

9. Don’t argue, nag, or attempt unsolicited and spontaneous transplants of your wisdom to your child. Instead, either (a) decide that the issue is aggravating but not significant enough to warrant intervention; or (b) make an appointment with your child to discuss the issue.

10. Although it is not the child’s “fault,” he will still ultimately be the one to deal with the consequences of his behavior.

11. This is hard work.

12. You will make it through this. You have no other choice.

13. “The children who need love the most will always ask for it in the most unloving ways.” (Words of a teacher quoted by Russell Barkley.)

14. If it is working, keep doing it. If not, do something else.

15. Forgive your child and yourself nightly. You didn’t ask to live with the effects of ADHD any more than did your child.

16. Review this text, and others, periodically. You are going to forget this stuff, and different principles will likely be need at different stages.

17. Stephen Covey (2000) suggests imagining your child delivering your eulogy. What do you want him to say about you? Keep those bigger goals in mind as you choose your interactions/reactions to your child.

18. This is not a contest with your child. The winner is not the one with more points. The winner is the one whose child still loves them when they graduate from high school.

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