Wednesday, May 25, 2022

How Do you Talk to your Children about the Violence that Ensued in Uvalde, Texas this Week?


It may be anxiety provoking to talk to your children about the atrocity that befell Uvalde, Texas yesterday. However, it is so important they receive the correct information so they do not become anxious about that kind of situation happening at their school. First of all, find a place where you can have a conversation with your children where they cannot easily leave, for example, your car. You want to ensure that they pay the utmost attention to what you are telling them.

Second of all, assure them that they are safe in their school. Explain to them that precautions have been taken in their school to guard against any possible problem. Discuss the specific things that have been implemented.

Third of all, before you give them any real time information, see if they have heard anything about the situation and exactly what they have heard. Older children, especially read and hear information on social media. They could be looking at a science video on YouTube and something could pop up about what has happened.

Next, tell the younger children brief information that is not specifically detailed. This information should reflect what they already know, however. Observe their behavior to see if it reflects anxiety. Are they drawing excessively or involved in some activity that is atypical for them. Are they doing that activity obsessively?

Limit access to social media or television temporarily with older children, so they do not hear anything about the violent situation that occurred before you have had a chance to talk with them about it. You may have more detailed and more complex conversations with your older children. Do not pressure your children to talk about the violent situation that has occurred recently. Permit them to discuss it as much or as little as they desire. Use open-ended questions when you talk to them. In that way, you will encourage them to talk more freely than if they have to answer more pointed, directed questions.

If possible, continue with your normal, everyday activities. If your children know that their lives will be predictable and continue onward, they will be much more reassured.     

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Do you have a Child who Behaves in a Way that Causes Others to Reject him or her?


I walked into the school where I would be working for the next year and was stunned to see Timmy, an eight-year-old, curly haired, mop-topped imp sitting right outside of the principal’s office. He had his head down and was not talking to anyone. I sat down next to him and after just a few minutes, tears began to flow gently down his cheek. He told me that he was trying to make himself invisible so that no one could see him as they walked by, because unlike him, they were going to gym class. Why was he not going to gym class like everyone else?


 His teacher told me that he was not yet ready to go to gym, art, music, or recess with the other children because he talked incessantly; he did not pay attention to instructions; he interrupted whomever was speaking; and he continuously touched others. How obstructive could a little boy’s behavior be that would prevent him from attending classes and activities that would seemingly be fun for him?


 In a way, one could not blame his teacher. Apparently the last time he entered the gym, he immediately darted to the closet where all of the equipment was stored and one by one, threw each and every piece of equipment out onto the gym floor. In fact, he threw some of the balls at the other children.


His behavior was certainly obstructive. However, was there not one teacher who could try to teach him how to behave appropriately? Timmy’s teacher quickly told me the answer to that question. She said that “He just wouldn’t listen.” She also told me that she “just didn’t have the time to work with one child.” Timmy was one student in an eight-student class. Was she kidding? Her response gave me a clear picture of how she felt about Timmy and his behavior.


I know that you are asking yourself, why did Timmy exhibit these socially inappropriate behaviors? Why did he exhibit poor social skills? Timmy had a diagnosis of attention-deficit/ hyperactive disorder (ADHD) as well as a diagnosis of giftedness. The following is the accepted definition of ADHD according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5):


A persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development as characterized by (1) and/ or (2): Inattention: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with developmental level and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/ occupational activities: Often fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes in schoolwork, at work, or during other activities often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities often does not seem to listen when spoken to directly often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort often loses things necessary for tasks or activities is often easily distracted by extraneous stimuli is often forgetful in daily activities Hyperactivity and impulsivity: Six (or more) of the following symptoms have persisted for at least 6 months to a degree that is inconsistent with and that negatively impacts directly on social and academic/ occupational activities often fidgets with or taps hands or feet or squirms in seat often leaves seat in situations when remaining seated is expected often runs about or climbs in situations where it is inappropriate often unable to play or engage in leisure activities quietly is often “on the go,” as if “driven by a motor” often talks excessively often blurts out an answer before a question has been completed often has difficulty waiting his or her turn often interrupts or intrudes on others Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms were present prior to age 12 years. Several inattentive or hyperactive-impulsive symptoms are present in two or more settings. There is clear evidence that the symptoms interfere with, or reduce the quality of, social, academic, or occupational functioning. Specify whether: 314.01 (F90.2) Combined presentation: If both Criterion A1 (inattention) and Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity) are met for the past 6 months. 314.00 (F90.0) Predominantly inattentive presentation: If Criterion A1 (inattention) is met but Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity) is not met for the past 6 months. 314.01 (F90.1) Predominantly hyperactive/impulsive presentation: If Criterion A2 (hyperactivity-impulsivity is met and Criterion A1 (inattention) is not met for the past 6 months (American Psychiatric Association, 2013, pp. 59–60).

In fact, if children with ADHD do not learn how to diminish or self-regulate these symptoms, they may arguably spend their entire adult lives feeling friendless, devoid of spouses, and having difficulty obtaining and keeping a job.


As hard as it is for me to admit it, you can see how a child like Timmy could be annoying for other children to have around. It was just about impossible for Timmy to get children to like him, let alone to make friends. Each time I entered the classroom, Timmy appeared to be happy.


However, within a few moments, his face showed more and more sadness and hurt. Whenever he tried to talk to his classmates, they would ignore him or make insulting comments to him. His behavior would then suddenly become inappropriate. This was the cycle of Timmy’s behavior:


he would talk to his classmates; they would ignore him or make hurtful comments to him; and then he would exhibit socially inappropriate behavior that would irritate them. This cycle was prevalent during all of his classes as well as throughout lunch.


When I came to school to work with Timmy, no one wanted to sit next to him at lunch. Let us look at what typically happened. As Timmy ate his lunch, if the other children did not get up from their chairs immediately upon seeing him walking toward them and sit somewhere else, he would speak to them. They would say insulting comments to him, such as, “Oh no, here he is again, the talking monster,” or “The jumping jack in a boy’s body is sitting here, yuck.” He would then exhibit inappropriate behavior, such as purposely chewing his food with his mouth open.


The other children would then say to me that “He grosses us out.” Since Timmy clearly did not understand how his behavior was causing his peers to respond to him in a negative way, he did not do anything to change his behavior. I tried to talk to Timmy to help him to understand exactly why his peers were rejecting him, but he just did not understand. He would speak to me about feeling rejected and unwanted but just did not understand the origin of his own socially inappropriate behavior. (Rapoport, 2009, pp. xiv–xv).

Do you have a child who has experienced this type of rejection, hurt, and pain? If so, please reach out for help before his self-esteem is negatively affected.

Friday, January 8, 2021


 There are some behaviors that you will find more success at diminishing if you selectively ignore them instead of managing them. The main idea here is that children will often continue behaving in a certain way if they receive any attention of any kind, positive or negative. Therefore, if parents want to diminish certain specific behaviors, they should purposely and selectively ignore these behaviors.

 An important concern here is your own stress. If you can successfully ignore your preschool child with ADHD’s socially inappropriate behaviors, your own stress levels will decrease. If you are able to do so, you will have successfully eliminated some of the behaviors that your child exhibits that annoy you, as well the ones that give you the most stress.

There are two caveats here, however. The first caveat is that the use of selective ignoring must be consistent and correct. What does this mean? It is imperative that any adult who is observing her child’s socially inappropriate behavior must not comment on that behavior. This means that neither parent should engage the child in discussing the socially inappropriate behavior that he is exhibiting. In fact, if either parent talks to the child about the socially inappropriate behavior that he has just exhibited, that behavior will most likely increase once again.

However, if the selective ignoring of socially inappropriate behavior is to work most effectively, it is vital that positive behaviors are recognized and praised. For example, if the child is continuously getting out of his chair at a meal, when he does sit as is required, the parents need to immediately say, “I love the way you are sitting and staying in your seat.” The previous phrase or similar comments may not seem natural for you to say, but they will really work to diminish your child’s socially inappropriate behavior.

The second caveat is that, in order for selective ignoring to be effective, there is some likelihood that the child’s negative behavior will increase to a larger degree before it ceases immediately. Therefore, if you pay attention to the child’s socially inappropriate behavior as it increases temporarily, your reaction will cause the child’s behavior to remain and possibly even grow in intensity.

 I cannot say that the child knows or even understands that when his parent attends to his socially inappropriate behavior that his behavior will escalate. However, it just happens that when parents reinforce a negative behavior, there will be an increase in the number of times that the child exhibits that behavior, as well as an increase in the intensity of that behavior. Ignoring socially inappropriate behavior is challenging for parents, however. Parents must learn to respond instead of to react. The reactive response would be to say to the child who is bouncing up and down in his chair at a meal, “Stop that now. Do not do that or you will have to go to time out.” Instead, responding is a much more effective tool than reacting, because it is behavior on the parent’s part that is intentional instead of unpredictable. The responsive behavior would be to say, “I really like the way you are using your napkin to wipe your face when it gets dirty” while ignoring the inappropriate behavior of bouncing up and down in his chair. 

Stay tuned for more information! 

Monday, November 9, 2020



Should preschool children with ADHD be disciplined when it is known that they cannot control their own behavior? Clearly, they do not willfully misbehave. As delineated in the diagnostic criteria that describe ADHD, these children are impulsive, hyperactive, and inattentive. Certainly, I would implement all of the interventions that you will read about or have read about in my first book, ADHD and Social Skills: A Step-by-Step Guide for Teachers and Parents. Sometimes, however, you may feel that your child needs something more.


Do you believe in time out? If you do, here is a caveat: By giving a preschool child with ADHD time out, you may be punishing him for behavior that he cannot control. When you tell a preschool child with ADHD that he has to go to time out, you take the chance of embarrassing him and making him feel poorly about himself. These children already have poor self-esteem. Why make them feel worse about themselves? When time outs are used with these children, they may just be counterproductive. “Unfortunately, using a time-out as a punitive method with kids diagnosed with ADHD may turn out to be counterproductive” (Armstrong, 2018, np). In fact, there is every reason to believe that preschool children with ADHD will just be more active when they are in a place where they are alone. They will, in all likelihood, stimulate themselves. What is the alternative? What these preschool children with ADHD need is a place where they can try to achieve some quiet and relaxation. Permit them to have control over the time that they spend in a place that they choose.


In fact, give your child a Time Timer1 and tell him to make a decision on the length of time that he will spend there. You can call it “the quiet place,” “the relaxation place,” or whatever your child wants to call it. There is no reason to make your child feel worse about himself than he already does by making him go to a typical time out. You can instead help your child to realize that he needs some time to unwind. What can he do in his quiet time? He can look at a book, listen to a book, draw a picture, listen to music, or do something else that he enjoys, such as a puzzle.


Because you’re changing the purpose of a time-out from passive punishment to working out problems, suggest activities that your child can do in the time-out area to help him gain control and feel better. Possibilities include

 • Visualizing an image that helps him cope (a special place in nature, a favorite trip, or an imaginary journey).

 • Meditating (focus attention on the inflow and outflow of breath, notice distractions that pop up, and return to focus on the breath). • Doing physical relaxation exercises (the yoga pose called the Cat) or imagining that you’re in a cozy elevator. As you feel it slowly descend, you feel more relaxed.

 • Thinking about, writing down, or drawing the solutions to his or her problem (Armstrong, 2018, np).


One other activity that your child can do when he is in his quiet place is for him to use a Me Reader. These are electronic readers that typically come with eight books. When you push the button, a voice reads a story to your child. One example is The World of Eric Carle. The instructions are located on the back of the book cover. These Me Readers are really quite entertaining because in addition to a pleasant voice reading your child a story, each story is accompanied by pleasant sounds. Each picture has a color-coded button that corresponds to the text box border on the page that your child is reading. When it is time to turn the page, your child will hear a pleasant chime.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

How can you Help Children with ADHD (and Similar Issues) to Adapt more Easily to Online Learning?


Here are some pointers:

1.     1.  Remain compassionate about your child’s negative feelings about online learning.

2.      2. Create a school-type environment by giving your child his own desk as well as placing it in an area with few distractions.

3.      3. In the morning, map out your child’s schedule for the day.

4.     4.  After going over his schedule, start him off by writing or drawing a picture of only one assignment on a post-it. When he completes his assignment, allow him to rip up the post-it and throw it away.

5.     5.  If you see that your child is distracted, shorten the work. He will gain more self-esteem by finishing a small amount of work than he will by not completing a longer assignment.

6.     6.  Make time for your child to exercise in some way, on a stationary bike, or on a walk outside accompanied by music to calm him.

7.     7.  At the end of the day, debrief your child. Discuss with him what was productive and what he could improve upon the next day. (Always talking in a positive way.)



Monday, November 2, 2020

Do Preschool Children with ADHD get Bullied?


YES! Preschool children with ADHD certainly do get bullied. In fact, in addition to preschool children with ADHD being bullied, they are also bullies. What does bullying encompass in terms of preschool children with ADHD’s behavior? The bullying might be kicking, knocking down a project, such as block building, being ignored, tripping, as well as not being allowed to play.

How do you convince your preschool child with ADHD to talk about having been bullied?

1.      Try to set up a time for a conversation every day.

2.      Do not put much emphasis on when the bullying happened.

3.      Talk about what happened.

4.      Encourage your child to discuss his feelings.

5.      Use books that have a focus on bullying to encourage your preschool child with ADHD to talk about being bullied.

Here are examples of some books that may help you to encourage your child to discuss the fact that he has been bullied:

Alexander, C. (2008). Lucy and the bully. Park Ride, IL: Albert Whitman and Company.

Best, C. (2001). Shrinking violet. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Henkes, K. (2008). Chrysanthemum. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, L.L.C.

Read the book one time to your preschool child with ADHD. Read the book again. Then, talk about bullying to your preschool child with ADHD. Ask him if anything like that has happened to him. The most important thing that you can do is LISTEN to whatever your preschool child with ADHD is saying about having been bullied. Do not interrupt your preschool child with ADHD’s train of thought. Give it a try!

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Emotional Health of Preschool Children with ADHD During Covid


The world seems mixed up and upside down to most of us now, due to Covid. In fact, preschool children with ADHD may be worried, sad, and frustrated. Their symptoms may worsen due to their new inconsistent routine. They may experience stress due to changes in their routines,as well as a disconnect from family and friends and major events, such as birthday parties being cancelled. They may have feelings that they cannot control and have difficulty staying focused. One mom the other day told me in a zoom meeting that her daughter just simply walks around saying, “I’m worried, mommy,” most of the time.

What can you do to help your child to simply feel better?

1.      Try to maintain a routine.

2.      Be transparent and truthful about Covid and the need to quarantine if required.

3.      Validate your child’s experiences. Ask him open-ended questions so he is more likely to explain how he feels.

4.      Stay connected with their social networks so they continue to communicate with their friends and family.

5.      Be positive about as much as you can so that he may pick up on your attitude and respond in the same way.

6.      Respond intentionally to your child’s socially inappropriate behavior instead of reacting to it. By responding to his behavior, he will exhibit more socially appropriate behavior than socially inappropriate behavior.

7.      Exercise in some way and encourage your child to do the same in an effort to remain calmer and more relaxed. Even taking a walk or listening to music in an active way may diminish some of his hyperactivity.