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How To Help A Child With ADHD Without Medication

One of our viewers requested, “Doctor Paul,
how do I help a child with ADHD without medication?” I’ve got some ideas about
that. When I shifted over to positive psychology, I quit giving diagnoses to my
clients. I haven’t done it in a decade. And yet, my experience in child
psychology had me working a lot with children diagnosed with Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD. Whether your child has a legitimate
diagnosis or not, I think some of the principles that we can discuss here
today are going to be helpful. And I’m starting with something that I’ve
reiterated many times on this channel. Listen carefully. Your job as a parent is
to love them no matter what and even if. We’re starting with that because
everything else I can share with you is simply manipulation if you lose track of
that. That is so key, so essential. Don’t be deceived into thinking your job is to
make sure that they… anything. Especially with an ADHD child. Because you don’t
have that kind of control. Your job is to love them no matter what and even if.
Focus in on that, hone in on it and let’s move from there and build some other
skills. Here’s another thing that I focus on in my coaching with parents all the
time. Shift your focus. Is this about you as a parent or is this about your child
and your child’s well-being? Shifting the focus from me as a parent over to my
child puts me in a position of power and influence as a parent. But it also
becomes much more palatable and attractive to the child. So, you can have
a better level of influence. This is easy to violate as a parents. Because we get
so focused on what we want our kids to do. Well notice where the focus is. It
focuses on what I want. What would be convenient
for me, what would help my life as a parent. Then I’m off. I got a shift that
focus back over to my child. What is in my child’s best interest? Now, I’m going to
throw you a bone here as a parent because it is in your child’s best
interest for them to behave properly. For them to make better decisions, for them
to cooperate and obey. That’s in their interest. But that simple shift from what
I want is a parent to what’s best for my child,
that is going to go a long way to help you help your child. The next thing I’m
going to recommend is you work with a kid who has ADHD or really any kid is to
get better at implementing consequences. And doing that in a way that separates
the emotion from the discipline. This is key because the emotional energy you
take into a discipline setting is going to make a big difference on how well it
is received by your child or the impact that it’s going to have on what you’re
trying to accomplish in the first place. So, let me give you a tool that’s going to
help with this. It’s a phrase. And I want you to practice this phrase as often as
you can and your parenting. “Either way, it’s really okay with me.” Try it. Just try
saying that. “Either way is really okay with me.” This implies a few things. It
implies that you’ve just given them a choice or you’ve just illuminated to
them that they have a couple of different directions they can go. And
you’ve also indicated that you’re emotionally detached from the outcome.
“Either way it’s really okay with me.” The psychology behind this is important
because if you give your kid 2 choices and you’re okay with one but not the
other, which one are they going to pick? And how do they do this? They’ve got some
uncanny ability to pick the one you don’t want them to pick. Well, if you
detach emotionally from the outcome, you really are okay with either way. Here’s
an example. With a younger child, “Buddy, you can get into the
are under your own power or under my power.
Either way is really okay with me.” You know, I’m talking about a young child.
Maybe 3 years old. They’ve got to get into a car seat. Can you enforce that? Yes,
you can. That’s why you’re really okay with either way. He can get into the car
on his own. Fine with that. Or you can get into the car under my power.
Fine with that too. Here’s another example maybe using the same example. You
can get into the car yelling and screaming and complaining or quietly and
peacefully. Either way it’s really okay with me. Now normally, you’re not okay with
the screaming and crying, right? But what if you were? Oh, that changes the energy.
And the dynamics of this interaction. So, get okay with either way. You don’t
control whether your child is kicking and screaming or going cooperatively. Get
okay with either way and then it shifts the responsibility back to the child.
Here’s an example for an older kid. “Honey, you can do the dishes on your own or you
can hire somebody else to do it for you.” Either way it’s really okay with me. Okay,
that’s another great example. For an older kid who’s expected to help out
with the dishes. And maybe she doesn’t want to help out with the dishes. Well
notice, I’m not giving her a choice of doing the dishes or not doing the dishes.
I’m giving you a choice of doing it on her own or hiring someone else to do it.
And there’s some strategies on that second choice. Hiring someone else to do
it? Who is she going to hire? She probably doesn’t know a dishwashing service that
she can call up and prepay for services. So, probably she’s going to hire me if she
chooses that option. See? And she hired me by default. And my fees are really high.
So, she probably doesn’t want to hire me very many times. That has to do with
following through the consequences. And we go over that and some other videos
and in the coaching and courses that we provide. So, I won’t go into a lot of
detail about that now, But you get to feel, okay? Where you can detach yourself
from the outcome. While we’re talking about discipline, let’s get in
to something that I think is really going to help with ADHD kids especially that
any kid who’s got some executive functioning challenges and what kid
doesn’t. We want to give them learning opportunities. And I like to structure
these in a way that allows us to have some level of control and oversight.
Here’s an example of one that I’ve done with several kids who have been
officially diagnosed with ADHD. I keep little self sticky notes here at my
office and I have several at home too where you can you can stick it to
something like that. And with some of the kids that I’ve worked with. I’ll take one
of these notes and I’ll write in my handwriting “Monday”. And then I’ll tear it
off and I’ll stick it to them. Maybe it’s stuck right there to their sleeve, okay?
And then I’ll write “Tuesday”. And I’ll stick that one to their knee somewhere.
And then “Wednesday”. And you get the picture until I get a full week’s worth
of these little notes that have different days of the week written in my
handwriting. And then I give them a challenge. And the challenge is to place
this note on their mother’s mirror by 7 o’clock a.m. every morning on the
day that it’s written. Mom’s job is to check and see if the notes there. And if
it is she signs it and puts it back, then the child’s task is to take that note
back before 8 o’clock P-M. with the signature on it. And then I put some
parameters around that like, “Mom, you don’t get to remind your child to either
put the note up or to take it down. You don’t get to do that. You just simply
sign it if it’s there by 7 o’clock A-M. And you do not sign it if it’s not there
by 7 o’clock A.M. no matter when it shows up. You are also to destroy the
note if it’s still there after 8 o’clock P-M and no reminder.” So, you get how I
kind of set this up? probably the hardest part about this experiment is mom not
reminding the kids. Remember, what we’re trying to do is train executive
functioning. So, in this particular learning experiment, we set up a reward at the end of the week if they have successfully
done those tasks every day on their own without reminders. They get a fairly big
payoff. And I usually have that payoff be something that mom contributed a portion
and the kid contributes to portion. Just to simplify it, this might be a school-aged
child. Let’s say 8, 9, 10 years old. Mom contributes $25. Kid contributes $25
or the equivalent thereof. So, there’s a $50 pot and they get the whole thing if
they successfully complete the challenge. They get nothing if they fail.
Interesting experiment both for the child and for the mom. With attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder or any executive functioning problem that kids
have, we’re really trying to help them start to turn on their own executive
ability to monitor their own behavior. So, this is just an example of how to set up
a specific learning opportunity. Now, finally. I think ADHD is over diagnosed
typically in our society. I think it’s one way that we say, “Hey, it’s hard for me
to deal with this kids behaviors.” But there are some kids who legitimately
have a diagnosis that has something to do with the way their brain is working.
So, I want you at the end of this video to consider the medication. I’m not
saying you should get it. But remember, we started this out with how do I help a
kid with ADHD without medication. That’s what we’ve been talking about in the
video. But when push comes to shove, if this is a legitimate diagnosis and if
you’ve tried a number of these things without success, the research shows that
untreated attention deficit hyperactivity disorder leads to a much
higher risk of disruptive behavior in the future including illegal activity,
substance abuse, self injurious behavior. There are a lot of things we don’t want
to have happen if it goes untreated. So, try these things but be open to
and consider the possibility of medication and consult with a qualified
medical professional about that if that becomes the issue for you. We’ve got
other videos on this and other topics in the positive parenting playlist. Make
sure that you check that out. And if you haven’t yet got a copy of my book
–Pathological Positivity, that is a great place to start as you consider other
options like coaching or programs that are available. Get this one first. There’s a link in the description. Click on the big orange
button once you get there and let’s get this into your hands as soon as possible.

11 thoughts on “How To Help A Child With ADHD Without Medication

  1. How about Gut health really being behind the ADHD behavior and inbalance of hormones. Treat the gut and sometimes you can cure ADHD.
    I will be implementing these tools and examples. I feel like it could work really well.

  2. I've had ADD since I was a kid and I'm in my 30's now. Without insurance for many years as I've been working on my teaching degree has made it impossible to get treatment…until recently. The process for an adult to be treated is so ridiculous. My doctor's office wanted me to be rediagnosed since I don't have my medical records. I've had the hardest time getting anyone to work with my insurance and do this diagnosis. My son was diagnosed by his pediatrician last year, and she is also my doctor. It was such an easy process with the Vanderbilt scales from my son's teachers. She knows that I clearly have ADD, and finally spoke to her supervisor about giving me medicine. I am still pursuing getting an official diagnosis. My point in all this is, please get your child the help they need now. My son made a 360 turn around in school with help of his medication. He made 100 point improvement on his standardized test from one year to the next. For me, my medicine is the difference between living and existing. Without it, I can't get simple things done and feel like such a failure. Taking my meds is helping me retrain my brain so that I function better and am more productive even when I don't take it. I've tried for years to compensate for this condition and it has taken me twice as long to finish school and accomplish simple things. I told my doctor I don't feel like I need my depression meds because when I can move along with life and handle things when they come instead of being afraid of failing, I'm no longer depressed. I didn't want to medicate my child at first, so we tries many things with his school first, to no avail. He was getting in trouble for his impulsivity, teachers were thinking he was a disrespectful child and it was affecting his self-esteem. If your child has ADD/ADHD, they need medication. Thank you, Dr. Paul for this video. Another helpful resource I have found here on YouTube is the channel How To ADHD. There I have found understanding on my ADHD behaviors and much support. Best to all of you reading this!

  3. Hi Dr Paul. Quick question, if you don't mind? What if your child has ADHD, and can cope and control in all environments but 1… and that teacher is pushing for him to be medicated for her class (2 hours a day)?
    I have ADHD (unmedicated until I was in my 30's), and my 7 yr old son has been diagnosed as well. I have always applied the coping mechanisms and tools that were generously taught to me by my teachers and therapists growing up to raise my child… which has made it much easier when communicating and disciplining him. While I am open to medication, I was hoping to wait a few more years until he is older as he has been succeeding in controlling himself in most all areas and environments (in which they are aware of his ADHD and his motivational "tricks" – as we like to call them). However, he has 1 teacher that he's having the worst trouble with, and she has implied in every way outside of flat out saying it that he needs medication – that he cannot and refuses to control himself in her class – that he is "willfully defiant" and should be tested for ODD (which after so many references from her we did have him evaluated both by the school and privately with no markers for ODD). It's just so frustrating when the teachers want a solution, and not contribute. It's very hard on him as well, as he is very hard on himself with the negative feedback he receives from her class each day… and I hate that a 7 yr old has to say things like "well she is the teacher, she is the adult" when it comes to things like filling out his conduct remarks or giving him checklists for the class that day.

  4. I refuse giving my daughter meds on her combined type ADHD even though she can be a handful at times. I love this video it's way better than her school suggesting meds meds meds and I tell them no no no. What about getting a child with ADHD to want to practice handwriting that's my difficult area for my daughter.

  5. You are speaking directly to me, Dr. Paul!! My son, as you may recall or not, has been diagnosed ADHD combined.
    I do get 'tipped over" a lot of the time it seems. Many nights after my son has fallen asleep I will reflect on the day, when it's gone crazy I feel like such a failure as a Mom. Ugh, it's terrible. Every night I say tomorrow I will do better but, many times I fail right off the bat. I get SO FRUSTRATED having to keep after my son to brush his teeth, etc, in preparation for school. Ok, Nick, come on, let's get our stuff done in here and you'll have more time to play or watch tv before the bus comes. E V E R Y D A Y. Maybe that makes me selfish to get frustrated with the constant repetition, I don't know. At the start of homework I feel I have to chose my words wisely, so not to tip him over into frustration of not wanting to do his homework and it being a battle, having homework last 3 hours. I am shot after that.

    I yell, I get in his face and I feel like a monster after the fact. Ugh, like right now I am crying….it's a vicious cycle. I absolutely love and adore my son. The day I brought him home from his birth country was the most amazing day of my life. Until the next day, and the day after that. You get my drift.

    I hate to see him struggle….I come from a loving place, I have him in mind, but I am going wrong somewhere…..

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