Month: August 2018

“We Can’t Diagnose, But…”

By Wednesday of each week, I find myself in a bit of a self-imposed panic that I haven’t written the post yet for the week and feel the pressure of Friday looming (when the posts come out). What am I going to write about this week?  Have I written this before?  Is it fresh enough?  These and other such questions and concerns are running through my head.   At this point, I can’t believe that I am closing in on nearly 350 posts that have been put on the site.

I guess the self-imposed pressure has worked!

Usually, I write about “current events,” meaning things that I am dealing with currently that trigger an emerging theme.

This week’s theme is triggered by my ongoing frustration with the refrain, “He just can’t pay attention and you should take your child to the doctor.”

On the heels of that, parents are continually given code language from the school, such as,  “We’re not doctors and we can’t diagnose, but…”

This is a subliminal statement that, “Your child really needs to be on medication,” without actually saying it.

There are all kinds of reasons kids don’t pay attention.  Here are just a few of them:

  • They may be worried about things and preoccupied to the point of distraction.
  • Maybe they are “spatial thinkers” who are much better visually, but struggle with understanding (processing) language, hence not “paying attention” while the teacher is talking.
  • Perhaps they are weak, inefficient readers.
  • Maybe the worksheets they continually get are really, really boring.
  • Perhaps writing is excruciating.
  • Perhaps there are things going on in the family.
  • Maybe the kid is not getting along too well with the other kids in school or they are being ridiculed.  Boy, that would distract someone.

These are just off the top of my head as the coffee fully kicks in. (Yes, I rely on my version of stimulants).  I could easily list 20 more.

ADHD (some will refer to it as “ADD”) is not something that has an agreed upon objective way of being measured or assessed. It is an impressionistic diagnosis based on a lot opinions..

It is my impression that we are far too quick to “diagnose ADHD” and that many factors need to be considered before jumping to that diagnosis.

Before filling that inevitable prescription you received after a fairly brief assessment using checklists as the primary information source, I would encourage you to check out other possible explanations as to why your child is not paying attention.

Back to my coffee!!!!!!!!!!


Copyright, 2018

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New School Year: 4 Top Tips

You’re muttering to yourself that you can’t believe the summer has gone by as quickly as it has. You wonder whether you’ve done enough of the traditional summer activities before it’s all gone.

And then there is the pit in the stomach. I know you’re feeling it.

The school year is starting again.


All the parenting magazines, websites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be having all of the “Back to School Tips for Success” articles for having the best school year ever and you’ll soon start scratching your head wondering what planet these people are on with their cheery tips. Some of you might be new parents and looking at independent league tables to find the perfect school for your kid. Whatever stage of parenting you are going through, the back-to-school tips can be confusing.

I feel your pain.

Even though I’ve written this kind of thing before in different forms, I will try and give you my top tips. Something tells me you’re not going to see these tips in the magazines or social media:

Stay Calm: I know. It’s a lot easier said than done. Practice following your breath meditation, taking brisk walks around the neighborhood-anything to try and help you walk it back some when your child is pushing your buttons.

Responding to the Whining: Parents get excessive whining accompanying homework or any independent tasks that are given to the child. The refrain goes something like this while the child is rolling around on the floor, “I hate school. It’s so boring,” followed by a mild, moderate or severe tantrum. (Seemingly the only thing that can calm it down is access to some type of screen, such as and iPad, Xbox or cell phone, kind of like a version of a baby’s bottle calming the baby down when it’s crying.) While you are deep breathing and stay calm (Point #1) have a ready answer that you can repeat on a daily basis while you are shrugging your shoulders. It goes something like this, “You’re right. School isn’t fun. It never was. Homework is boring. It always was.” That’s it. That is your mantra.

Finding the Goldilock’s Point: For those of you who remember Goldilocks and the Three Bears (if not, Google it), Goldilocks taste-tested the bear’s soup to see if it was too hot, too cold, or just right. Parental homework involvement should be the process. If you’re in too deep, it’s too hot and your child will take advantage of you. If you’re not involved, too cold, especially if your child has a learning problem, he probably needs a bit more support than you are offering.

Finding that middle point where you are not in too hot or too cold, but just right is what we are looking for.

As a guideline, I like to tell parents to be 10% involved with the child’s academic work. Much more than that is probably too hot.

Remember, Screens are An Earned Privilege: Unless the child somehow is paying for the Internet, his cell phone and iPad, then access to these are all privileges. Keep asking yourself (on a daily basis) has your child earned the privilege. Too many children view their accessibility as a right – “I breathe therefore I get my Xbox.” You need to bring a better dose of reality to their brains. That is, “You give and you get.” It’s that simple. Don’t overcomplicate it. Lay out the rules as to how homework and other academic tasks will go. You are in charge of overseeing it. If there is good faith effort, then a nice green check can go in the calendar (get an old school calendar and put it on the wall, not an App or other such other such thing on your phone). You will convey to your child, if the green check goes on the calendar, then the evening is free play. Go enjoy yourself. If there is no green check on the calendar, then you have not earned screens and it’s going to be a very boring night.” No punishments. No yelling just clarity.

There it is. The Selznickian tips for a great school year.


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