How To: Parent an ADD Child

How to Parent an ADD Child without Drugs

This is a great article from the SF Gate, home of the San Fransico Chronicle, by  Jessica Werner Zack.  Zach writes about Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Katherine Ellison — herself undiagnosed with ADD until recently — and her struggles and successes in parenting her ADD son.  Ellison’s book, Buzz:  A Year of Paying Attention,  chronicles her experiences including ultimately how she chose mindful parenting over meds.

Western medicine  — note that I studied History of Medicine in college (yeah, weird subject, I totally agree) — DOES has a tendency to use Science as its god and Medication as its solution so I found her story particularly interesting.

Anyway, I digress.  Here’s the link to the entire article.  Here are some interesting paragraphs below.  Has anyone read this book?  What do you think of meds versus other?  And what is your “other?”

  • Despite wanting to exhibit calm, in-control, responsible, parental behavior, Ellison found herself screaming, too – yelling at her son to shut up. As she pulled the car off the freeway, she realized she had “a certifiable problem child, while I’m also certifiably part of the problem.”
  • The book, published by Voice, recounts the 12 months Ellison spent investigating the dizzying array of theories and treatments purported to help people with ADD, a condition she calls “a hallmark obsession of our frazzled era.” She also takes an unflinching look at her own parenting skills.
  • Luckily for Buzz, whose troublesome eighth-grade year is chronicled in the book, Ellison came to the exasperating situation armed not just with a parent’s passion for helping her child, but with the perseverance of an investigative journalist. (Ellison received a 1986 Pulitzer Prize while at the San Jose Mercury News. She is also author of the 2005 book “The Mommy Brain: How Motherhood is Making Us Smarter,” Basic Books, 2006.)
  • What sets Ellison’s personal story apart from the countless ADD books is the degree to which she implicates her own parenting behavior – and her own ADD – as contributing to her son’s behavior issues. She writes that “kids like Buzz do best with parents who aren’t having tantrums right back at them.”
  • “If you have a child with ADD and struggle with it yourself, all the parenting guidebooks are just going to make you feel more distracted and crazy,” Ellison says. “That was the predicament I was in because, like Einstein said, ‘No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ “
  • In conversation, Ellison points out repeatedly how common it is for ADD to be shared by a parent and child. “If your child has ADD, there is a 30 to 40 percent chance that one parent has it, too,” heritable at the same rate as height. (Neither Ellison’s husband, Epstein, nor their younger son has ADD.)
  • “We’ve hit some rough patches when I’ve thought maybe the meds would be a good idea again, but he doesn’t want to do it and I respect that,” says Ellison, who also tried medication herself but chose not to refill the prescription. Besides, she added, “Buzz has discovered so many positives about himself,” Ellison says, including becoming a very good tennis player. “Tennis is great for people with ADD. The whole game is like a training of attention.”
  • Reflecting on her year of “paying attention to attention,” Ellison is convinced that “the most important thing I did was change the way I was reacting to Buzz, to be less judgmental and give him 10 times more positive feedback than negative.”

If you want to examine her book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom

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