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Top 10 Tips for Parents, Children, Teachers and Students of all ages

Here we are, the start of another year of school. Our children, my wife Sue’s and mine, are now 29, 26, and 23, so their years in school have come to an end.  Still, between the 20 years I, myself, spent in school, and the combined 54 years (that includes pre-K and K) our kids spent in school, you could say my brain has been conditioned to the school calendar.

For people with ADHD, the start of school sends off of an array of alarms, signals a wide range of possible demands and impending points of critical decision, and in general dominates September as much as crisp air, foliage in New England, and the start of football do as well.

Let me take this space to offer my Top Ten Tips to parents, children and students of all ages, and teachers as well on how to make school, college, and even graduate and medical school as rewarding and successful as you can:

  1. Make a friend at school. You gotta have someone you’re looking forward to seeing.
  2. Find something you like to do at school. You gotta have some activity you look forward to, even if it’s just recess.  But you gotta have something, a subject, a sport, an instrument, some activity that draws you through the day.
  3. Find the person who can give you extra help. The logical person is the teacher in the course, but if that’s a bust, find an alternative source.  If you’re young, mom can help you with all of these.
  4. Make friends with at least one teacher. This is not kissing-up.  This is being a smart student.  Tons of research show that one mentor changes lives.  Find one teacher you click with and build on that click.  My 12th grade English teacher changed my life forever.
  5. Kids of all ages do not get enough sleep.  Turn of electronics and try to get at least 8 hours.
  6. Stay on top of assignments and work load from day one. DO NOT LET YOURSELF FALL BEHIND. If you can’t take care of this on your own, hire a coach.  A coach does what mom does minus the nag factor.  A coach can totally make your academic career and save you from the down side if ADHD.
  7. Make sure you are working with a doctor you like and who understands the strength-based approach to ADHD, also who is available when you need him/her.
  8. Start every day with an encouraging word—from yourself, from your parent, from your mate, from a friend, from a prayer, from a lick from your dog, from all of the above.  The worst of ADHD comes from negative self talk.  Counter this at the start of the day and throughout the day.  Not silly stupid positive self talk, but strong, confident positive self talk, like “You’re gonna crush it today!” or “Shut-up with the put-downs; don’t feed the beast!”
  9. Stay in the game. Don’t use avoidance as a coping tool.  Never give up.  Keep at it.  Ask for help when you are stuck, but never, ever walk away.
  10. Never worry alone. There is always a way to attack a problem if you reach out to the right people.

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