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Dr. Hallowell's Blog

Archive for June, 2015

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

ADHD and Life as a Mom, a Psychologist, a Parent, and a Spouse

Life is an adventure, and over 30 years ago, in my early years of parenting I never dreamed that my struggles with a son with ADHD and dyslexia and an absent-minded professor husband would lead to the joys I experience today.  And yes, the apple never falls far from the tree, and it took winning the Nobel Prize (in Economics) to encourage my husband Robert Shiller to self-identify as an individual who likely has ADHD.  (To read my husband’s Nobel biography, click here: his elementary school teachers saw him as uncontrollably restless and talkative.)

But, the early years of my own parenting weren’t easy.  I wrote the book “Rewards for Kids!  Ready-to-Use Charts & Activities for Positive Parenting” (with Meg Schneider, published by The American Psychological Association, 2003) partly as a self-help measure.  If I could just make my “home laboratory” into a professional project, it would stimulate me intellectually and make the daily struggles a little easier!

Indeed, reward plans were the key to solving many of the potential roadblocks that could have prevented my sons from achieving success.  And they allowed me to keep the focus on the positive.  While I am actually not a behavioral psychologist – I think children’s emotions absolutely need to be attended to – the truth is that children who have challenges of many kinds respond very well to rewards plans.  (Well, actually practically all children respond well to reward plans.)  But, they are particularly useful for kids who struggle somewhat harder to accomplish tasks at home and school, to keep on track, to inhibit impulses, and to get along well with others.  And they’re helpful for parents to keep them focused on children’s positive traits and to limit the need to incessantly correct and control problem behaviors.

My good friend Janet O’Flynn, an Occupational Therapist with two children the same ages as my sons, designed lots of fun and creative charts  As our children grew, we supported each other in finding novel ways of solving a variety of problems; many of the reward plans we actually used are included as sample programs in the book.

Today, Janet and I are proud that all four of our children have achieved well in their chosen fields and are solid, well-adjusted individuals.  There are definitely those who believe that reward plans don’t foster internal motivation to achieve, but Janet and I strongly disagree.

As a psychologist, I encourage all parents to have hope for their children and to remain as positive as possible despite challenging behaviors.  Ned Hallowell’s message that parents must spend years helping to “unwrap the gifts” of ADHD and dyslexia is an accurate one.  But the rewards are well worth the effort.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Things will get better. Take My Hand.

If You are Desperate. . .

Take my hand.  If you are desperate, just take my hand.  You don’t have to believe anything, just take my hand.  Listen.

It will all work out.  It has before.  It will again.  It will all work out.  It always has.  It will again.

Whatever it is that has you feeling desperate, it will pass.  Nothing lasts as it is.  Everything subsides.  Even pain.  Especially pain.

Stay with me.  Take my hand.  That’s what I need when I am desperate, and I’ve had serious moments of desperation in my life, more than a few.

Take my hand.  Please stay with me.  We are in this life together.

All of us.  Has someone betrayed you or threatened you?  That happened to me, once really badly.  It ended in forgiveness though.

Have you done something that’s gotten you into trouble?  Who hasn’t!

Are you desperately worried about someone you love?  That’s especially hard, because you have so little control.

Whatever your situation, you do have me, this voice, at least right now.  You also have everyone else in the world, it’s just pretty hard to feel their presence sometimes.  Pain isolates us. But everyone is out there, in some way radiating positive energy your way.  One day science will prove exactly how. They’re there and they’re with us from the afterworld, too, at least if you ask my opinion, but that’s a totally different topic.  You don’t need opinions and speculations now, you need solid comfort and relief.

Things will get better.  Take it to the bank.

You sure don’t need theories or slogans.  I Googled “feeling desperate” and got a lot of sites with solutions (usually for a fee, once you entered and scrolled down a bit), Biblical citations, and literary references to books like The Little Prince or Jonathan Livingston Seagull.  Those books are wonderful fables, but you need something more immediate right now.

Like a guarantee.  Who doesn’t like a guarantee?  I can guarantee you, if you hang in there, things will get better.

Pain passes.  Humiliation passes.  Loss passes.  Death takes, and then subsides.  Betrayal passes.

If I knew exactly what was bothering you, maybe I could offer better help.  But maybe I don’t need to know, because feeling desperate, at its core, is pretty much the same regardless of the cause.

I’m still here.  I’m not going anywhere.  Things will get better.  Just hang in there.

Get angry at me if you’d like to.  When I feel desperate I often get angry at people who tell me things will get better.  How could they possibly know?  It makes me mad.

But it’s also what I want to hear because it’s what I want to believe.

Life is so hard.  For us all.  The good thing is it’s not hardest on all of us at the same time.  So when one of us is more or less ok, we can help offer hope to those who are in the depths.  It’s how we get each other through.

Each other.  See, we’re the key.  That’s not a theory, it’s a fact.  You know it, I know it.

We’ve all been in the depths.  If you’re there now, I can tell you, I’ve been there, too. Now, I have your hand.  Maybe then, you had mine.  So we can’t be all that far apart, if you get what I mean.

Being human keeps us close.  We all have to play by the same rotten rules.  Age, suffer, and die.  Lose everyone and everything.

Maybe not everything.  As long as someone has hope, there is hope.  And as long as there is hope, desperation will subside.

Please allow for hope.  Don’t block it out.  It will come.

When I’m desperate, the worst moments are when hope, all of a sudden, vanishes, and all I can see are the very worst outcomes.  It’s like a cloud blocks out the sun and my world goes dark.  It’s just a feeling that overcomes me, with no warning, in periods when I am living in fear, sorrow, or danger.  My world goes dark.

But, sooner or later, the cloud does move on, thank God, and the sun, such as it is, returns.  I say “such as it is” because in those periods even the sun doesn’t restore me completely.

It’s such a cliche but it’s so true: life is all ups and downs.  Thank God the downs don’t last forever, and I guess it’s just as well the ups don’t either.

If you’re in a down, please let me be with you.  Think of me, a person you don’t know, talking to you right now, a person who’s been very down, but who, right now at least, has hope.  Think of me just trying to get next to you in spirit to pump in some of the hope you don’t feel right now.

Hope is a potent force.  When I’m desperate what I need more than anything is hope.  Desperate basically means out of hope.  Full of fear, but no hope.

Take my hand.  Now let me transfuse some of my hope into you.  Just hold on, it comes through naturally, just like it did when you gave it to me back when.

Even if you can’t hold my physical hand, which you can’t of course because you are reading this and you don’t know me from Adam, even so you can still feel as if you were holding my hand through my words.  These are words of hope.

They are hard earned words.  I won’t tell you all the troubles I’ve seen, but I’ve seen many, and I’ve been places where I felt nothing but fear, where I felt no hope at all.

Let me hold you now.  It will work out.  It always has.  It always will.

Now, turn on a piece of music you love, let the music divert you and take you, and then come back and read this again, ok?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Dr. Hallowell ADHD Summer Camp

ADHD Summer Camp July 13-17

I help families (children & parents) manage ADHD in a fun & gorgeous setting. Learn more at Dr. Hallowell ADHD Summer Camp.

From childhood through adulthood, ADHD can present both difficult dilemmas as well as unique opportunities for change, growth, and success. Dr. Hallowell’s goal is to help people master the power of ADHD while avoiding its pitfalls. When the diagnosis of ADHD emphasizes what is wrong with a person, that person immediately starts to see himself in negative terms.

Interweaving introductory information with advanced material based on a strength-based approach to diagnosis and treatment, these seminars will show you how to unwrap the gifts of ADHD and how people who have ADHD can succeed at the very highest levels.

Half day sessions are combined with Learning Adventures including kayaking, biking, cooking, etc.

Learn more at Dr. Hallowell ADHD Summer Camp.

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Dr. Hallowell Discusses ADHD, Self-Esteem, Dealing with Doubters

 How to Talk About ADHD to Your Child, Your Family, and the World, free ADDitude webinar. Please join me on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 1pm EST.

In this free webinar, Dr. Hallowell will discuss:
1. How to address common questions from ADHD-doubters
2. Ways to boost your child’s self-esteem when ADHD gets him down
3. Simple scripts for you (and your child) to use when friends, relatives, or teachers make hurtful comments about ADHD

Learn more and register at ADDitude magazine.

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