Month: August 2021

“My Child Doesn’t Pay Attention – Do You Think He Has ADHD?”

Practically every week I hear an array of  concerns regarding distractibility and inattentiveness.

There’s always the question of, “Does my child have ADHD/ADD.”   In the discussion with parents a lot of  territory is covered and  I do my best to broaden the narrative and review other factors that may be contributing to why a child is not consistently paying attention.

Here are some factors to consider before presuming your child has a neurological disorder:

  • Perhaps the work is too hard.  If it is, it will lead to inattention
  • Perhaps the child is playing video games far too late in the evening and not getting enough sleep.  Maybe the child is addicted to video games leaving little in the tank for sustained mental effort, something that I am seeing much more.
  • Maybe there’s been a lot of tension and fighting in the family that is unsettling to the child,  which will lead to distractibility.
  • Perhaps the teacher is not motivating.  Not to blame the teacher, but a boring teacher can certainly produce a lot of off-task behavior.
  • Perhaps the child  has “W.B.D.” (i.e., “Worksheet Burnout Disorder.”) and is being flooded by too many worksheets (or its on-line equivalent), leaving the child feeling disconnected and unmotivated.
  • Perhaps the child has significant reading problems, making it difficult to pay attention and comprehend.  This is an extremely important consideration.
  • Perhaps there is a lot of distraction in the environment (whether it be the  classroom or at home) and the atmosphere does not lend itself to paying attention.
  • Maybe the child is struggling with anxiety and the excessive worrying looks like inattention.
  • Perhaps the child is feeling like she may have social issues as she goes on TikTok and Instagram and sees her friends does not feel included, leaving a sense of her upset and distractibility.
  • Maybe the child has been made fun of or ridiculed, but no one really knows of it other than the child.

Oh, yeah.  I almost forgot.

Maybe the child has ADD/ADHD.

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –



Executive Functioning & the Goldilocks Standard

My overall mission on is to present to parents in down-to-earth, understandable terms, concepts that I think have become unnecessarily complicated.

“Executive Functioning” is a term I hear parents use a great deal, but when I ask them what they are referring to, I usually get a shrug and a look of confusion (even though they are pretty sure their child has it).

When it comes to “executive functioning,” here are few points to keep in mind:

Ship’s Rudder: Think of “executive functioning” like the rudder to a ship helping to steer things along.  For many kids they have firm “rudders” and their boat is well-steered. Tasks get started and finished.  Completing homework is no big deal.

For others, their rudder is quite floppy, which leads to floundering around and not staying on course.  Homework is rarely completed.  Basic tasks like walking the dog or putting things away are an enormous chore.

Late Maturing of the Rudder: For many of the students of concern (especially the boys), there is a late maturing of the “rudder.” Effectively, these children are not on the same timetable of school.

 Be careful with comparing your child to the average or the “norm,” as your child may be outside of the norm with the various executive functioning skills, such as task initiation and sustained effort.

The Goldilocks Rule and the 10% Standard: One of the toughest questions parents grapple with is how much they should be involved on a day-to-day basis.

Many parents that I meet (ok, the moms) are very involved with the child’s school work.  As the mom does everything she can to get the child to do their work, the child is ignoring it all while they are on TikTok, Youtube or whatever.

When it comes to parent involvement, I like parents to be thinking of the “10% solution,” which means that the parent should be approximately 10% or so involved.

The “Goldilocks Standard” is also something I mention when considering their involvement.

That is, if you are in too deep (i.e., the soup is too hot) then the kid will not be taking sufficient personal responsibility for things like homework.  Why worry about work if the parent is doing most of the worrying, anyway?.

On the other hand, if you are not involved  (i.e., the soup is too cold) with a weak-rudder type of child, then the child will flounder.

Takeaway Point

Try and find the sweet-spot of parental involvement – not too hot, not too cold, but just right and you will be on the path to helping move things forward.

Copyright, 2021  Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick. 

Not in the South Jersey area?  For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –

“Just Use Spell Check”

Let’s say your 12-year-old sixth grader, spells the following words:

  • bref  (brief)
  • susess  (success)
  • edcccate  (educate)
  • resolt  (result)
  • kicten  (kitchen

Then he writes the following story to a picture prompt:

          “Once a o pon a time there was a kid that was a million air and he whated to buy a house   he look at so many house and finally found a house. but it needed a lot of work So                 the kid hierd lots of people to help him but after thay were all done the house went back  to it whent back to the way  it was.”

Or, perhaps you have an 8-year- old third grader who writes:

            “I hrd a son.  It was funne. My dad was beyenfunne was he dats Wen he was in the cr  Wan we wr gown to the prck.”

(Translated as best I can after the child tried to tell it to me –  “I heard a song.  It was funny.  My dad was being funny when he danced.  When he was in the car when we were going to the park.”)

In each case, when the parents raised the issue of their concerns about their child’s spelling and writing,  the response was, “Well, spelling really doesn’t matter – they can use spell check.”

For those of you following this blog for a while, I am sure that you will predict that I respectfully disagree.

In the early grades, about 70% of the kids progress smoothly in reading, spelling and writing without any special intervention.

The more they do of these activities, the better they get, creating a positive growing snowball effect, as it picks up momentum rolling along.

Effectively, the rich get richer.

For the 20-30% on the other side, it’s not simply a matter of doing more of the activities that will lead to improvement.

For this group they are not attuned to the sounds within words or the concepts of writing a sentence and these skills do not come naturally.

They are at a decided disadvantage and need to have these sounds taught much more explicitly with much greater practice following the direct instruction.

It’s a long, slow process.

A study conducted of practices in the classroom where teacher practices were observed, revealed that less than 5% of the language arts instructional block time is devoted to spelling or direct instruction in writing.

For the 70% mentioned above that’s fine, for the rest, simply saying “They can use spell check” is not a substitute for the challenging work needed.

Copyright, 2021
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email –


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