Q&A with Dr. H: How Do I Help My Son Help Himself?

Q&A with Dr. H: How Do I Help My Son Help Himself?

Today’s question comes from Cindy, a concerned parent. She emailed Distraction and wrote in part, “Our 31 year old son has the most incredible “race car brain with bicycle brakes” that are in desperate need of maintenance… As parents of an adult with ADHD we struggle with how to help our son. How do we help him help himself?”

Dr. Hallowell responds by offering up a few ideas and encourages Cindy to jump in and help. “Sink or swim? In our world you sink,” he says in this episode. “So you need to jump in there with life jackets…” he continues.

If you have a question or comment you’d like Dr. Hallowell to address in a future Q&A episode just like this reach out to us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].  

Learn more about our sponsor, Forman School, a coed college prep school dedicated to empowering bright students who learn differently in grades 9-PG. Forman School provides the individual attention these students need.

Get a copy of Ned’s newest book, ADHD 2.0 at DrHallowell.com or by clicking HERE

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson and our producer is Sarah Guertin.

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Ned and Sue Answer ADHD Relationship Questions

Ned and Sue Answer ADHD Relationship Questions

Dr. Hallowell’s wife Sue returns to Distraction to address listeners’ ADHD questions. Sue Hallowell is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and has been married to Ned for 30 years. They’ve also raised 3 children together who all have ADHD, so you could say Sue is somewhat of a subject-matter expert! Listeners ask about issues with their kids, spouses and more.

Do you have a question or guest suggestion? Send an email with your thoughts to [email protected].

Dr. Hallowell’s new book, ADHD 2.0, comes out January 12th. Pre-order Now!  Click here to pre-order your copy of ADHD 2.0.

Check out #NedTalks on TikTok! @drhallowell

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness!

Now is a great time to try OmegaBrite as Ned has arranged for a special offer for the first 250 Distraction listeners who respond. Distraction listeners who buy one bottle of 70/10 MD Omega-3, will get a FREE bottle of CBD Full Spectrum 25mg Softgels with the promo code: NED. You’ll get FREE shipping too! These are the same supplements that Dr. H takes every day.

Just enter the code: NED after adding the Omega-3 to your cart and the FREE bottle of CBD and FREE shipping will be automatically applied.

Click HERE to learn more about our other amazing sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently!

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

This episode was originally released in August 2017.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is sponsored by OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of Omega Brite CBD Full-Spectrum Softgels with free shipping when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, Ned, at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Distraction is also sponsored by Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, the college of choice for student who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s very demoralizing for me when I come up with a new idea, “Let’s start a goat farm tomorrow morning,” and have her say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” So we each try to manage the other’s expectations a little bit, and we’ve been married how many years, 28 years? It’s…

Sue Hallowell:
It’ll be 28 years September 17th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, we’re still working at it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, and welcome to Distraction, the podcast. Today we have a very special episode because my wife is joining. My wife, Sue, has joined us in the past and it made for one of our most popular episodes ever, and so we’ve invited her back.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
By way of introduction, Sue is my wife of 28 years, the mother of our three children, now 28, 25, 22, but professionally, she is a licensed independent clinical social worker, LICSW, has been in practice for 30 years, is really honestly the best clinician I know. She is truly, and I don’t I’m biased, but I mean it. She’s remarkable. She’s incredibly empathic, incredibly warm, but also very decisive, incisive, and smart. She specializes in couples, particularly couples where one or both members have the wonderfully interesting condition called ADD. Welcome, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you. It’s such a privilege to be here. I’m really happy to be asked back.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, the privilege is ours. And with that, we will take our first caller. I’m very happy to welcome a caller by the name of [Suta 00:02:45]. Hello, Suta.

Suta:
Hi, how are you?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
[crosstalk 00:02:48].

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah. Hi, Suta. How are you?

Suta:
Nice to meet you, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Nice to meet you.

Suta:
Thanks for having me on your show with Dr. Hallowell.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, it’s nice to have you here.

Suta:
Where are you calling from, Suta?

Sue Hallowell:
Pennsylvania.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how can we help you?

Suta:
Well, I’ve been with my husband for 22 years, and he was diagnosed late in life with ADHD, so I listened a lot to ADHD podcasts and I’ve learned a lot about it, but I still struggle with a few things. One of those is how do you respond when your ADHD spouse comes to you with a new idea, a new hobby, or a new business venture? I know that I should respond positively but I still have a hard time with it. Sometimes I maybe question a little bit too much and I think it comes across as being negative.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m only laughing because this comes up in our coupledom all the time.

Suta:
Yes. And my questions generally revolve around the time commitment and money. So I was just wondering, do you have any thoughts on how to respond positively and be supportive, but still be able to get your questions answered?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, as Sue said, this comes up between Sue and me all the time. So let me let you, Sue. How do you handle me when I come up with a new idea?

Sue Hallowell:
Often, probably like you, almost automatically, I come up with, “Oh, yes, but.”

Suta:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
And one of the things that Ned and I have talked about over the years is that drives him absolutely crazy. And it’s my own anxiety that gets perpetuated immediately, and I feel as if it’s happening right now, that if I don’t respond in a responsible way right then, that we are going to have something happen that’s beyond my control without even beyond a blink of an eye. So what I’ve really tried to learn to do is just suppress that part of myself and realize that what’s most important first, is to just be enthusiastic, and say, “Geez, that’s a great idea. Tell me more about it. Wow, that’s so interesting,” because there’s going to be time for questions. It isn’t going to happen immediately, and if I take the time and talk about what’s good about the idea, or really hear what he’s thinking about it, then he’s often much more responsive when I do say, “Well, but have you thought about this, or have you thought about that?” But if I bring up those concerns immediately, he’s not going to listen to me and it just leads to a fight.

Suta:
Right, it shuts down pretty quickly in my household too.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s exactly right. But for me, it really is, and I don’t know if this is true for you, but I just want to underscore, it’s my own anxiety about things getting out of control that leads me to respond so quickly.

Suta:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
And sometimes, actually, if I stop and I really listen to him, he can almost, he’s already considered a lot of things that I didn’t even know he thought about, and/or as he talks about it, sometimes he can see the issues himself. And so that has helped a lot. Would you agree, Ned?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I rely on Sue to be the brakes. My analogy of ADD is I’ve got a Ferrari engine for a brain with bicycle brakes, and so I’ve spent a lifetime trying to strengthen my brakes. And one of the ways I’ve strengthened my brakes is by marrying Sue, because she doesn’t have a runaway brain and she is able to put on the brakes, and what I have to learn to do is take her temperance as just that, instead of thinking of her as the official wet blanket, to instead say, “Yeah, you’re right. We can’t immediately open a goat farm tomorrow morning in our backyard and it does take some planning.” And so I’ve tried to learn to appreciate her putting on the brakes, just as she’s tried to learn to appreciate my new ideas and not rain on the parade right off the bat. Because it’s very demoralizing for me when I come up with a new idea, “Let’s start a goat farm tomorrow morning,” and to have her say, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.” So we each try to manage the other’s expectations a little bit. And we’ve been married, how many years, 28 years? It’s…

Sue Hallowell:
It’ll be 28 years September 17th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, we’re still working at it.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I still get upset when she bursts my balloon, and she still gets upset when I go off half-cocked with yet another new idea. And…

Sue Hallowell:
And, may I say, that sometimes your half-cocked ideas have turned out to be pretty fabulous things, down the line. It’s just taken a little bit of a slower process with it. And as you said, sometimes my temperance has helped us maybe stay out of a little bit of trouble sometimes.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, and also, I’m not the only one with ideas. For example, I’m just finishing a memoir that I’ve spent the past two years writing, and it’s completely different from anything I’ve ever written. And the only reason I wrote it was Sue telling me, “You really ought to write a memoir. You really ought to write something totally different from all the other books you’ve written.” And only with her encouragement, and only with her assuring me that people might actually want to read it, was I able to get up the courage to write the proposal and sell the idea, and now I’m just finishing the book. So, sometimes she comes up with the bright ideas, and I’m the one who needs to be encouraged.

Suta:
Right, right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much for calling in, and-

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah. Yeah, it’s really great talking with you.

Suta:
Yes. Yes, thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you, Suta. Take care.

Suta:
I appreciate it. Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, next up we have a question from [Cheryl 00:09:11]. Hi, Cheryl, this is Ned. Where are we reaching you?

Cheryl:
I am just outside of Portland, Oregon, in a little town called Lake Oswego.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. Well, welcome to Distraction, and how can we help you?

Cheryl:
Okay. Well, my question is around the mindful parenting courses that I’ve been seeing a awful lot of both online, I mean, you can take them online, or you can take them in person. And I’ve been seeing those on different ADHD sites and mostly on the parenting sites. Very recently, I started practicing mindfulness and meditation for myself to help kind of manage my nine-year-old ADHD son, and it helps quite a bit.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Cheryl:
We’re having fewer power struggles, mostly because I feel like I’m stopping and taking a breath. So my question is, what’s your take on these course offerings? Do you think they offer a more directed plan for parenting a complex kid?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Before we comment, I’d like to hear you describe what has been in the course, and by the way, when I hear mindful parenting, I always think, “So what’s the opposite, mindless parenting?”

Cheryl:
[crosstalk 00:10:25].

Sue Hallowell:
Well, that’s what we do a lot of the time, Ned. We often do mindless parenting.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, tell-

Cheryl:
I think they call that autopilot.

Sue Hallowell:
There you go.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So tell us, what is in the course? What have you learned? What are they advising you to do?

Cheryl:
Well, some of the modules involve, obviously, there’s a module on mindfulness and meditation and being able to step back, kind of do the old school count to 10 routine. They talked about effective communication and communicating with your child more on their level, and don’t let them push your buttons. I mean, several of the courses have, and they’re anywhere from six to 10 or 12 different modules that you can go through and some of them are self-paced online, and some of them are in person, where they do a webcast. So I mean, there’s several different pieces involved with the courses.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
My take on it is, what’s not to like? I mean, they’re advising you to learn skills of self soothing, of breathing, of meditating, of being in the moment, of being patient, of waiting and not engaging in struggles, and if the adjective applied to it is mindful, fine. You could call it patient parenting. You could call it taking a deep breath parenting. I think most of these kinds of courses have a lot to offer, simply by allowing you a forum to step back and ponder and consider what you’re doing as a parent. And the oldest job in the world. Sue and I have three kids, and the most important thing we’ve ever done was raise those and some days we were mindful and some days-

Sue Hallowell:
We were not.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We were mindless. But I think these courses, by and large, they’re all good. I mean, unless they’re recommending terrible things, but by and large, I think what they provide is support and certain techniques that have time tested. Goodness knows, breathing and meditation have been around for thousands of years, and learning forbearance with kids who are by nature rambunctious, and we all need support, a guide and someone to worry with and so you feel more confident and less stressed.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
I would basically agree. I mean, I think I heard in one of your questions was you’ve already taken some mindfulness courses? And-

Cheryl:
Well, I haven’t actually taken the courses yet. I was more wondering if, I mean, would this be a good model to follow-

Sue Hallowell:
Yes.

Cheryl:
Or am I in just as good a place in the different little tidbits and things that I’ve stumbled across kind of on the web?

Sue Hallowell:
First of all, I think that I love groups where you can interact with other parents.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
Because I think that that is one of the most healing things that can happen, no matter what the techniques are, right? I think that just being able to have the opportunity to interact with other people who are struggling with the same kinds of issues with your child, is most important. We run this camp in Michigan every year, a week, it’s called ADHD Family Camp, and the kids work with this master educator who does a wonderful program have the kids and the parents work with Ned, and I come in one day. But I always like to joke when I talk to families and say, “Even though Ned’s giving you information and talking with you, what the most important thing is the interactions that you get with the other parents and what you learn from them.”

Cheryl:
Okay.

Sue Hallowell:
So you can read the tidbits and you can get information, but it’s the connection and also having to be able to practice some of it really makes a difference.

Cheryl:
Oh, okay. Awesome. Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s a wonderful book, if you want a book along these lines, by Shefali Tsabary.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you go to Amazon and look up Shefali Tsabary, her books are wonderful. And then-

Sue Hallowell:
And Cindy Goldrich.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There’s another author, Cindy Goldrich, and her parenting course is terrific.

Sue Hallowell:
Calm and Connected Parenting.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So those two books, those two authors, both Sue and I know and endorse.

Sue Hallowell:
And Cindy actually not only has a book, she also runs a Calm and Connected Parenting workshop that people really love.

Cheryl:
Okay.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But it’s on the East Coast, so it’s not exactly convenient.

Sue Hallowell:
But it’s a webinar.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, it’s a webinar. Oh, okay. Oh, okay.

Sue Hallowell:
She does both in-house and webinar.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh, great. Great.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Terrific, then.

Cheryl:
Oh, very good. Thank you so much for your insight. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, and thank you for giving us a call and it was nice to talk to you.

Sue Hallowell:
Good luck.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good luck.

Cheryl:
Thank you. Have a great day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You too. Take care. Bye-bye.

Cheryl:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, so Sarah, I understand there’s a new offer from our wonderful sponsor OmegaBrite Wellness.

Sarah:
Yes, there is and we’re really excited. I like to call it the Ned pack, because they’re, basically our listeners are going to have the chance to take what you take every day. So all you have to do is add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega-3 to your cart at omegabritewellness.com, and if you use the coupon code Ned, your name, N-E-D, it’ll automatically add a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full-Spectrum 25 milligram Softgels to the cart, and you get free shipping. So, pretty cool.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow, that’s an excellent offer. I’m so glad they’re using my name not in vain, but to bring people to this wonderful product. It is a wonderful product.

Sarah:
It makes it nice and easy.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, and my wife, really, if they really want to get someone who loves it, they should get my wife, Sue, on because she, and she’s very skeptical about all kinds of things. I mean, she laughs at me for the various stuff I take, but this is one that she absolutely swears by, so I’m glad to know. So they just go to omegabritewellness.com and put in the code Ned and they get all this cool stuff.

Sarah:
Yep, they just have to add the OmegaBrite 7010 MD Omega-3 to their cart, and then with the promo code, they’ll automatically get the free CBD Full-Spectrum 25 milligram Softgels. They’ll get free shipping, and I should note that this is limited to the first 250 Distraction listeners. So people kind of got to move on if they’re interested.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay, and the offer code is Ned.

Sarah:
That’s right, N-E-D.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Very good. Okay. Thank you, Sarah.

Sarah:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, now I’d like to welcome Christian to Distraction.

Sue Hallowell:
Hi, Christian. Thanks for calling.

Christian:
Thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Where are we catching you? Where are you?

Christian:
I live in Massachusetts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You have Sue and me together. What can we do for you?

Christian:
So my question for you guys is my wife Michelle, we’ve been married 16, almost 17 years, and she has ADD and I think I have ADD as well, but Michelle has a real severe case of it. So it’s frustrating for me, as a spouse where, a lot of times Michelle has great intentions, she’ll say, “I’ll do this for you,” or, “I’ll run this errand,” and I’m like, “Okay,” and I count on her to do and then it doesn’t happen. And that happens often and I know she doesn’t do it deliberately. It’s just she gets caught up with a lot of things going on in her head. But I guess my question is, how can I, I don’t want to be frustrated anymore and I don’t want our kids to kind of sense that from me, because then [inaudible 00:18:18] they may internalize that and think that Mom just lets them down. So I guess that’s my biggest question.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, my first question is, is her ADD being treated?

Christian:
It is, yes. She sees a doctor, I think, once a month, and she works on it. She listens to your podcast. She reads a lot. And I got to be honest, she wants me to read a book, and I haven’t read it. [inaudible 00:18:45] So I also have to do my part, as well, but yeah, she is being treated for it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, is she taking medication?

Christian:
She is, and if I have it correctly, I think it’s called it Ativan? No.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Adderall.

Sue Hallowell:
Adderall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right, the biggest mistake that people make is they don’t get maximum mileage out of the medication. The medication is by far the easiest intervention we’ve got. There’s plenty of other things you can do, but if you are open to using medication, and really the medical facts are tremendously reassuring along those lines, then, once you start, you’ve got to titrate the dose so you get target symptom improvement with no side effects. And that can take some backing and filling. If she’s forgetting stuff, it sounds to me as if the medication dosing should at least be looked at, if not revised, because it’s a shame to… It’s like having the wrong prescription eyeglasses. You don’t get the best results. Or the wrong shoe size. You want to make sure that she’s getting the maximum mileage from the medication. And then-

Sue Hallowell:
But.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The second suggestion is for you to sit down with someone like me or Sue. You can see either one of us, I’m in Sudbury, she’s in Cambridge, and do some couples coaching because-

Christian:
Right. Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll let you take over with that.

Sue Hallowell:
So I have some medication, though I absolutely agree with you, it does have its limitations and people can be adequately medicated with… Still these issues come up, what kinds of things does she, can you say a little bit more about what you notice or what happens?

Christian:
Sure. Just every… It can be any task, like household things. I’ll do the groceries and then, okay. I like to do the groceries because I, just with my experience with her, I’ll go and get everything that’s on the list, but when I give it a list, she comes back with one third of it. And then she’s like, “Ah, oh I forgot this,” and if she says like… It can be any household chore, like, “I’ll do the laundry,” or, “I’ll do the bills,” or something. Lots of times she just forget, she just doesn’t get it done.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Christian:
And I know that she doesn’t do it deliberately. I know that she’s not doing because, “Ugh, I don’t want to do laundry.” No one really wants to do laundry.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Christian:
She’s just, I think her mind is so preoccupied with a lot of things that she just literally forgets.

Sue Hallowell:
Is she working, or is she-

Christian:
She works part, yeah, she works part time. Yep.

Sue Hallowell:
She does. So she’s out of the house, some. Because one of the-

Christian:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
One of the challenges that I’ve seen with a lot of people, women with ADHD who are at home is they feel like they need to be home because they have ADD and they can’t manage everything, but the unstructured life at home actually, in many ways, is much harder for them than if they actually had more of a structure.

Christian:
Right. It’s funny you mentioned that because she worked at home for a while and then she got really, she did a home daycare, and it just was, that was a lot. She did it for seven years and then she stopped. And then she took a break from working and she always said that when she works and she gets out of the house and she works, she can put 100% focus onto work tasks, but when she gets home, she has a very difficult time.

Sue Hallowell:
She loses it. Right.

Christian:
Yeah, so she definitely, what you just said, is definitely true for her.

Sue Hallowell:
Right. The structure really makes a huge difference.

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
And so the more that structure can be built into things, the better she will do.

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
The other thing is to really talk with her about what she is good at and what she’s not so good at. One of the things that people with ADD, and not that that means she doesn’t have to do anything, but really playing to what her strengths are around the house is much better than having her do things that she’s really not good at.

Christian:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
That can help. Also, don’t pick up the pieces so much. So, if she forgets things at the grocery store, instead of you taking over going to the grocery store, going back for her, one of the mistakes people make is they begin to overcompensate for their partner and then their partner ends up sort of feeling crappy about themselves, really, because they feel like they’re never quite doing it, doing everything they’re supposed to do. And I understand that it’s frustrating and you worry about, “Well, are things going to fall between the cracks?”

Sue Hallowell:
Well, you have to think about what’s good enough versus what is your idea of how things need to be, because sometimes you have to look at what your style is, and what’s important to you, because sometimes with an ADD family, it’s not going to look like other families. And it’s what’s good enough and what needs to get done and how to do it, as opposed to, this is the way it’s supposed to be.

Christian:
Right. No, it makes a lot of sense. And we’ve done that recently. We’ve… She enjoys doing the finances and taking care of those things, and she does a great job at it and she does a lot of things with the kids’ school. Our kids started going to private school this year, so she’s taken a lot of those tasks.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How old are your kids?

Christian:
14 and 12. Our daughter’s dyslexic, and our son is has processing, executive function things going on, and they both have made tremendous strides just in one academic year. It’s been a blessing for us. But Michelle has been really in charge with that and in advocating for the kids. And so yeah, I guess so, we’ve done that in the last few years. We’ve focused on trying to give her a structure, I guess, without even thinking about it.

Sue Hallowell:
And raising kids with issues like your kids have, don’t underestimate how much time and effort that takes, and it sounds like she does a terrific job with that. And so-

Christian:
[crosstalk 00:24:59]. I mean, she’s phenomenal.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Christian:
Yeah, so.

Sue Hallowell:
And so focus in on that, and if you have resources, filling in the places that she doesn’t do as well, or… I’ll tell you a story of this one couple I see. He is someone who would really get very upset when his wife would put, they had one small child, and she would put the plastic plates that he was eating on in the dishwasher, which he felt was not a good thing because of health benefits. He felt like… And they would go, and she would really mean not to do it, but then would forget, she has ADD, and would put it in. And it was just this struggle and she didn’t want to do it, but she would forget it was… So I finally said, I said to them, I said, “Well, why don’t you just stop using these plastic plates?”

Christian:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
I mean, and that sounds so simple but they both looked at me like I had given them a magic wand and made it… And so now they have more glass, these pottery that are sturdy, and that she can put them in the dishwasher, and yes, they break sometimes, but it’s really made a major improvement. So I’m saying that you have to sometimes think outside the box a little bit. And-

Christian:
Yeah, no, you’re absolutely right. Yeah, and it’s… We’ve been married 16 years and thank god, our marriage is great and she’s phenomenal. And we’ve had two different upbringings, so that’s also another thing. Life isn’t always the same as when you were a kid.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right.

Christian:
But just this short conversation with you guys has definitely, it makes me think a little bit more.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wonderful.

Christian:
And I agree 100%. I think it can only be a benefit for us to talk to a psychologist, or a doctor like you guys, in terms of figuring out different methods to help us, because if we just try to do it on our own, it’s sometimes [crosstalk 00:27:03].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, someone who has experience with ADD, a little coaching.

Christian:
Right, exactly.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Just a couple of sessions can go a long way, strategies and…

Christian:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Well, good luck to you.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you so much for calling and good luck.

Christian:
Thank you very much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you, Christian.

Christian:
All right. Thank you. Have a good day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You too. Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
You too. Goodbye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to recommend to you Landmark College. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Go to lcdistraction.org to learn more. That’s LC for Landmark College, distraction.org, to learn more. It’s a really wonderful special place in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It’s bucolic, but what goes on there is unique. It is a truly specialized learning environment for people who have the conditions I’ve got, ADHD and dyslexia, for us to learn how best to acquire knowledge and also to express our own ideas. It’s a marvelously talented, sympathetic, lively faculty. The courses are rigorous, but also wonderfully forgiving if you have one of these conditions. Please go to Landmark College, lcdistraction.org, to learn more, and feed yourself with the banquet you’ll find there. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now Sue and I are going to speak with a Distraction listener who reached out to us by the name of [Janine 00:28:50]. Hello, Janine.

Janine:
Hi, Dr. Hallowell. Hi, Susan. I’m so delighted to talk with you both.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what can we do for you today?

Janine:
Well, you know what, it’s interesting, because when I got your initial email that you were exploring marriage issues, it was a week before our 30th wedding anniversary and the question really came to mind is, how on earth did I make it this far, or we make it this far? Because I never thought we’d be celebrating 30, although we both are really stubborn. But there were times when I thought, “There’s no way,” and I guess one of the big things that has helped us survive and be stronger is you in my life, your podcast, your books. And back in 2011, I was part of your summer intensive at Leelanau [crosstalk 00:29:53] School-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Ah.

Sue Hallowell:
Ah.

Janine:
And that was really my first jump into this crazy ADHD brain and kind of understand it, because that’s when my son had been diagnosed. I think what I wrote you about is just being grateful that you were there as a resource, and that you really focused on the connection piece, because that was another big way that we have made it through, is we have a group of friends that we camp with all the time and we just grew our families, and our kids grew up together and they accept us for who we are, but they hold us accountable.

Sue Hallowell:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janine:
So that’s critical.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s so important. And I want to say something about when you said how did we stay married for 30 years.

Janine:
Yeah.

Sue Hallowell:
And one of my favorite answers to that, Ned and I had these very close friends, Priscilla Vail and her husband, who were, what, about 10 years older than us?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
Maybe even 15 years older than us. And they… Priscilla described this evening one time that it was she and her husband and these three other couples, and between them, they were probably married 200 years, just an enormous amount of time. And they discussed, they wanted to talk about why did we stay married or what keeps people together, when so many people divorce. And everybody went around and some people said a sense of humor or respect or all these things, and Donald, her husband, went last, and he said, “It’s the determination to stay married.”

Janine:
That’s so true.

Sue Hallowell:
And I think that it’s really your testament to that, right, that you and your husband, it’s not always been easy, but you kept trying to go back and solve the problems or solve the issues and try different ways of looking at it, it sounds like, and having a connected life with people outside of yourself so you didn’t get so insular. I think that if you hadn’t had that determination, you can call it stubbornness or you can call it determination, then you may not have been a family that survived and wouldn’t that be unfortunate?

Janine:
It would be.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now after 30 years of marriage, what’s the upside? See, we’ve talked about sort of grim determination but what’s the-

Sue Hallowell:
Hey, hey, hey, I didn’t say grim determination. I-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the joy?

Sue Hallowell:
You are terrible.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What’s the fun? What’s the joy?

Janine:
Okay. You guys make me laugh and that’s fun.

Sue Hallowell:
I mean, really.

Janine:
It’s interesting, now that our sons are almost launched and pretty much on their own, I mean, just our intimate life is probably better than it ever been because we… There was a time when we could go months and months without sex because first, we didn’t like each other very well at that point and who had any kind of… You just fake it and that wasn’t fun. So that part of our life wasn’t really active, and that has reemerged in our 60s, believe it or not.

Sue Hallowell:
And I have a question. I often find, and I don’t know if this is true for you, but so many couples, when they’re struggling, they really just focus on what their partner is doing wrong or what makes them unhappy about their partner.

Janine:
Yes.

Sue Hallowell:
And I think that when people are able to finally stop and, sounds like you did a little bit, take stock of what’s good and what’s not good, and what do I really want, then sometimes you’re able to say, “Okay, what can I do differently?”

Janine:
Exactly. I was spending a lot of time being the martyr and blaming, and…

Sue Hallowell:
People fight that because they think, “Well, no, but I’m right in what I believe,” and I often say to people, “Being right is sometimes not the best thing in a relationship.” Sometimes it’s more important to pay attention to what works for the relationship, rather than being right or not, and maybe you don’t have to react to every little thing, whether you’re right or wrong.

Janine:
Exactly. And I felt so justified in pointing them all out. It felt really good but it didn’t get to the end goal of us really being a better couple and enjoying each other.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Janine:
And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s funny-

Janine:
[crosstalk 00:34:41].

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I remember a woman that I saw years and years ago, and she worked in the corporate world, and she was absolutely brilliant, but she wasn’t getting promoted to the level that she really deserved until she figured out why. And she said, “I used to go into meetings with the sole purpose of being right, and I was the smartest person in the room. I had done the most preparation, but my way of being right was to make everyone else feel wrong.” And she said, “Now I’m a recovering righteous bitch.” She said, “When I was able to not have to be right, and allow other people their say, everything changed.” And I think that’s true in couples. Being right is really overrated.

Janine:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Getting along is what you want to do.

Sue Hallowell:
And of course, I mean, Ned’s going to yell at me now because I always have to qualify everything. Of course, we’re not talking about… Obviously, there’s some times when you have to take a stand, but in general, taking a stand isn’t always needed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now’s the time for Sue to issue a disclaimer that we do not have a perfect marriage. We fight all the time.

Janine:
Well, we do too.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We don’t fight all the time, but she would just as soon say that we do fight all the time.

Janine:
Well, we banter. [crosstalk 00:36:06].

Sue Hallowell:
Banter.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, we banter. We banter.

Janine:
We banter. And I think it’s learning to respect each other’s needs, because I wasn’t diagnosed until I was in my 50s, and then I also have dyslexia, so I have a bunch of triggers about being stupid. So I work real hard at [crosstalk 00:36:25] stupid.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Janine, where did you, you are anything but stupid. I can tell just talking to you, you’re very smart.

Janine:
Well, yeah, but I didn’t think that for years and years, so I can’t underestimate or I can’t say enough really for the work you both do and your commitment to this, and it’s not easy stuff and you’re a voice out there that people can go to and trust. And it’s sort of this beacon in the middle of the storm sometimes that, “Oh, there is a different way,” and, so thank you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you for those encouraging words, and we really have fun doing it. And we see the greatness in ADD, not just the problematic part of it.

Janine:
Yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And we have fun with each other.

Sue Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Janine:
Yeah, I can tell. You laugh a lot, and you don’t take each other quite too seriously.

Sue Hallowell:
No, you can’t.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We don’t have much grim determination, I’ll say that.

Janine:
We’ll just keep using the strategies we’ve been using and being gentle with each other and try and listen and not be so bullheaded and I think it’ll work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Yeah, it’ll work. It obviously is working. Enjoy the next 30 years.

Janine:
Hey, thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right.

Janine:
And it’s been delightful talking with both of you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thanks, Janine.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s so nice to talk to you, Janine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Take care.

Janine:
All right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Janine:
Take care. Bye-bye.

Sue Hallowell:
Bye-bye.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s our show, our very special show, featuring my wife the inimitable Sue George Hallowell. Do you have any closing remarks, sweetheart?

Sue Hallowell:
I just want to say thank you to all the callers today. I’ve always felt like it’s such a privilege to be able to get a little insight into people’s stories, and everyone today just had such incredible stories that I’m sure that many of you out there share many of the same issues. And so, I thank them for being willing to call in and to share their stories with us, and help others along the way.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, absolutely, Sue. And the major theme of our show is the power of connection, and we really depend on you listeners for that, and so please write us, call us, be in touch with us, comments, stories, suggestions. We love hearing from you. We’ll do another show like this soon, I hope. Love to get your input and love to create the force field of connection that really is the key to pretty much everything good in life. Well, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell, saying goodbye for me and for my wife, Sue, until next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, that’s going to do it for today. I hope you all had fun. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you learned a lot. If you did, please tell your friends. We’re trying to grow our audience and the best way to do that is for you to tell other people about us. Thank you for all of you who reached out, and please, if any of you feel moved to write a question, write it, email it, record it, whatever. We will almost definitely be airing your question and I’ll get a chance to take a stab at providing my best answer that I can come up with.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If you have a question or comment you’d like us to include in a future episode, write it or record it and send it to, here you come, here you come, [email protected] Send it to connect, the word [email protected] Remember, please to follow Distraction on social media and subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen, so you’ll never miss an episode. I’m now also on TikTok, if you can believe that. I’m loving TikTok. It’s a perfect, perfect format, 60 second bits about different parts of ADHD. So, you can find me there too. My username is @drhallowell.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Thank you so much for joining us today. I love this audience. I just appreciate lending me your ears, as it were. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazingly talented Scott Persson, and our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. Thank you all and see you next time.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard, just now heard, was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. Get a free bottle of OmegaBrite CBD Full-Spectrum Softgels, with free shipping, when you buy one bottle of their 7010 MD Omega-3. Use offer code Ned, that’s my name, at omegabritewellness.com.

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ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

ADHD Questions About Diagnosis, Medications, Doctor Disagreements & Helping Family Understand

What does it mean when you’re one symptom short of an ADHD diagnosis? Dr. H answers this and other listener questions including the difference between short-acting and long-acting medications, how to explain ADHD to family members, and what to do when your child doesn’t like their doctor.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell that you’d like him to address in a future episode? Send it to [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Dr. H takes their supplements every day. Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode is made possible by our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve taken their Omega-3 supplements for many years, and so has my wife, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. I’m proud to have them. You can find all of their products online at omegabritewellness.com and Brite is intentionally misspelled B-R-I-T-E, omegabritewellness.com. This episode is also sponsored by Landmark College, another institution that I have a warm personal relationship with in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Learn more at lcdistraction.org.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. I’ll be answering in today’s session your questions and responding to emails we’ve received recently from many of you. Remember, if you have a question you’d like me to answer, please, please, please send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] We love these Q and A sessions. Of course, we can’t have them without your questions. So off we go. Off we go to the races. Let’s get started. My wonderful producer, the inimitable Sarah Guertin is joining me now to read your questions to me, as well as your comments. And so let me ask Sarah, the wonderful, wonderful Sarah, who are we starting with today?

Sarah Guertin:
Hi, Ned. Today, we are starting with an email from a listener named Tim. Tim wrote to us in response to the episode we released about an ADHD diagnosis being good news, and he wrote: Hi, Dr. Hallowell. I haven’t technically received a diagnosis of ADHD, but the process wasn’t good news for me. After struggling and underperforming through grade school, community college, and university finally earning my bachelor’s degree six years after graduating high school, I finally had myself tested for ADHD when I was put on academic probation after my first semester in grad school. I was told that I was one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis of ADHD. They found that I had a good IQ, but my working memory and processing speed scores were three standard deviations below my other scores. My university was unwilling to allow me any accommodations. And the representative told me that, “No one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree.”

Sarah Guertin:
I later worked with a psychiatrist that allowed me to give ADHD medication a try, but they didn’t seem to help me. This was around 2003, and they had unpleasant side effects. A few years later, I tried treating my dysthymia pharmacologically, and that didn’t seem to help either. I’ve worked with a few different therapists over the years and have made only a little progress on that. I currently take dextroamphetamine because of daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia and sleep apnea that is not treated well by APAP/CPAP. The dextroamphetamine sort of helps the attention piece a little, but also makes me more distracted in other ways. Anyways, the point is that the news isn’t always good, but maybe that is just because I didn’t get a clear ADHD (VAST) diagnosis. Take care, Tim.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Tim. For people listening VAST is the term that John Ratey and I came up with in our new book for ADHD because ADHD itself is so inaccurate. VAST stands for Variable Attention Stimulus Trait. Tim, yes, what you suffered is not good news. What you’ve suffered is terrible news. It reflects both how difficult it can be to have ADHD or VAST, but also how hard it is to get competent help. I mean, the idea that you were one self-reported symptom short of a diagnosis is ridiculous. It’s like my friend and colleague, John Ratey, kids, “If you’re one symptom short of a diagnosis of depression what does that mean? You’re just miserable.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I mean, these diagnostic criteria are not supposed to be taken that literally so it’s hard and fast if you have five symptoms, you don’t have it. If you have six symptoms, you do. Technically, that’s the definition, but a true evaluation, a good evaluation is based on the totality of your presentation. What are you struggling with? And how long have you been struggling with it? And how intense is it? And these are not amenable to being so concrete that you say, “Well, you have five symptoms. You don’t have it. You have six symptoms. You do have it.” That’s just not right. You were suffering and you were not given any help. The idea that no one was going to feel sorry for me if I was able to get a bachelor’s degree that’s also absurd.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
There are plenty of high achievers who have ADHD. I have any number of physicians in my practice. There is a Nobel Prize winner who has ADHD. You can be a CEO, a self-made millionaire, or billionaire, and have this condition. So the fact that you were able to get a bachelor’s degree doesn’t mean you don’t have ADHD. Again, we’re dealing with misconceptions. It breaks my heart to see how hard you’ve been trying, which is also typical of folks who have ADHD, not getting the right help. In fact, getting wrong help. I don’t know about the medications that you were given, but if my guess is right you weren’t given the full range of possibilities vis-a-vis medication. Now, medication does not always work. It does work about 80% of the time and by work, I mean, you get target symptom improvement, improved efficiency, improved focus, improved performance with no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In my own case, meds don’t work. I’m one of the 20% for whom meds don’t work, but I have found a medication that I like, namely, coffee. So I have my coffee every day, and that’s my version of stimulant medication. I think if you were to work with a psychiatrist who really understood the condition, and if you were given help beyond simply try this medication. If you were given some education, some coaching so you could have a fuller understanding of what your strengths and vulnerabilities are then you could maximize the strengths and minimize the vulnerabilities, but you need to find somebody who really gets this. I refer you to my book Delivered from Distraction. If you read that you’ll know enough to be able to actually teach whoever you go to see and you’ll know what the various meds are, but also what are the non-medication interventions that are available, and there are many of them.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We’ve talked on this program before about the Zing program. And if you want to learn about that go to distraction.zingperformance.com, Z-I-N-G performance.com. And it’s just a series of physical exercises that stimulate the cerebellum, which in turn is connected to the frontal part of the brain where the action is in ADHD. My buddy, John Ratey, has written a whole book about how physical exercise, just exercise in general can help with ADHD. And we know also that meditation can help. I’m a big fan of promoting finding some creative outlet, something where you can use your imagination to create, build, or develop something. That’s something that the reason I write so many books. I’m starting my 21st book is not because I’m ambitious to write books it’s because if I don’t have a book going I get depressed. I need a creative outlet to keep me to keep me going.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, long-winded, but yes, this condition undealt with can be horrible, but if you find someone who can guide you to deal with it properly, you can tap into your superpower. You can tap into your unique talents, and your special abilities, which we all have. It can take some doing, some scratching, some probing, some trying, and failing to find what are your special talents and abilities. Tim, don’t give up. It’s not like people with ADD to give up, but I’m sorry you had that negative experience. I’m sorry you’ve had the bad news side of ADHD. Let’s see if you can get some help and get to the good news part of it. Thanks so much for writing in. Sarah, do we have another one?

Sarah Guertin:
We sure do. Actually, it ties into what you were just saying. This one is about changing careers from a listener named Sarah. She asks: Can you do a podcast about ADHD-ers who want to change fields or careers? I have tried to switch a few times with no success. I have never been “happy” in a job. I have an enormous amount of student debt to pay off, which weighs on me every single day of my life. I would like to find something I can be happy doing day in and day out. Like you, Dr. Hallowell, I’m a writer at heart and I am depressed when I don’t have a creative outlet. My husband has even said, “You are so much happier when you write.” With three school-aged kids it’s very hard to find the time for all the things to keep us healthy, exercise, cooking, et cetera, and sane. I’m not a novelist yet. How do you find the time?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Sarah, as one writer to another my heart goes out to you. I mean, you’ve got to make money, and it’s very hard to make money as a writer. So for now I would put the writing under the category of hobby, avocation. It’s probably not going to pay you what you need to make right off the bat. So you want to find a job that is at the intersection of three circles. One circle are things you really like to do. The other circle are things that you’re very good at doing. And the third circle are things that someone will pay you to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So where those three circles overlap, what I call your sweet spot, that’s where you ought to be spending as much of your time as you possibly can. Just sit down at the kitchen table with your husband because we’re not good self-observers. We so often sell ourselves short. Make a list. What do I like to do? And then another list. What am I good at doing? And see where those two lists over overlap. And then the third one. Okay, given these overlaps, which one of them will pay enough to make it worth my while, worth the time I put in? And I know you can find probably a few things in there where you can try to get a job in that overlap in your sweet spot.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And then for the writing, I would recommend you get it’s a very short book. I can’t remember the author’s name, but it’s This Year You Write Your Novel. It’s a very short book and it’s very practical. It’s written by a man who’s written 20 books so he knows what he’s talking about. I’m just going on my cell phone to see if I can find the actual … Here we go. This Year You Write Your Novel. Okay? The author is Walter Mosley, M-O-S-L-E-Y. It’s in paperback. It sells for $15.99. I can tell you it’s money well-spent for you. This Year You Write Your Novel.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Basically, what he recommends is that you write for an hour a day. Now you may not be able to find an hour a day. I think he’d approve if you put in a half an hour a day, but that’s how you do it. You find the time. You create the time. And then you protect that time religiously. And it gets so you really look forward to it. And even if you spent the half hour staring out the window, you’ve committed to doing it. Since you’re a writer at heart, I love your phrase, I’m a writer at heart and depressed when you don’t write, you got to write. Just don’t think that it’s going to pay your bills right off the bat. Now the day may come when it does pay your bills.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
One of the main reasons I went to medical school is I didn’t want to put all my financial eggs in the basket of becoming a successful writer. And it took me a while before my book started paying me, but now they do, and they’ve helped me put my kids through college. I’ve achieved my dream, but my primary job is being a doctor is helping people. I specialize as you know in this condition, ADHD, terrible name, but that’s what they call it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope this answer helps. Try to find a job that’s in your sweet spot, the overlap of what you’re good at, what you like to do, and what someone will pay you to do. And then have your writing. Don’t give up on it. Absolutely have it. Commit to it at least a half hour a day, ideally, an hour a day, and get Walter Mosley’s book This Year You Write Your Novel. I want you to come back to me, please. Let me know how you did with this. Congratulations, Sarah. Don’t give up on your dream. Okay. We’re going to pause for a little break right here to hear from one of our sponsors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
OmegaBrite, omegabritewellness.com has been a sponsor of this podcast for I don’t know how long. I invited them to join us because my wife, Sue, and I have taken their Omega-3 supplements for years and years and years. I’ve known Carol Locke, the woman who developed all the products for many years. She’s a graduate of Harvard Medical School and a superb physician, and incredibly careful with the products that her company creates. She has extremely high standards that are uncompromising. She’s also a really nice person. They’re a natural fit for the show because their products help with mood regulation, anxiety, as well as focus and attention, as well as being good for your entire body their powerful anti-inflammatory action. You can find all of their supplements online at omegabrite B-R-I-T-E wellness.com. That’s omegabritewellness.com. And Distraction listeners you can save 20% on your first order by entering the promo code Podcast2020. That’s Podcast2020. All right. Now, back to the show. All right, this next question comes from Kristen. Sarah, you want to read it?

Sarah Guertin:
Sure. She writes: Hi Dr. Hallowell. My son is moderately gifted, IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound. I would think he hits about six to seven check marks for inattentive ADHD. It does definitely affect him at home and at school. He gets pretty stressed about writing, prioritizing, organizing, planning, ignoring distractions, et cetera, but because he is gifted, he seems pretty average to the teachers. Just seems to “need a bit of help to stay on task.” He is going into grade five in Canada, but he does like school so that’s good. He does have some success there, thank goodness. He has accelerated by one grade for math.

Sarah Guertin:
At home, he has a hard time following more than two-step directions, forgets what he was going to do, avoids hard stuff, emotional regulation is difficult and can be quite extreme, et cetera. Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication. I will see how this year goes. I just wonder if these struggles are holding him back from his potential. Kristen notes that her son has had an assessment and that he scored well on all tests, including working memory, but he was in the clinical range for visual attention, and visual-motor processing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good job with that visual-motor pronunciation.

Sarah Guertin:
I looked it up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Visual-motor. Well, okay. Kristin, 135 is more than moderately gifted. “IQ approximately 135, so nothing profound.” That’s profound. 135 is real good and it’s certainly the top one or 2%, so I think he is indeed at least on the basis of IQ a gifted kid. You said in your letter, “Basically, I am on the verge of considering medication.” That makes it sound like it’s some kind of last-ditch intervention. Medication used properly is very safe and very effective. Putting it off it’s like saying, “Why don’t I do a year or two of squinting before I get eyeglasses?” Medication is proven to be effective in 80% of cases. Effective means you get results and you don’t have side effects. 20% it doesn’t work, but 80% is a pretty good batting average.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it makes no sense to defer hoping that the non-medication interventions will take care of it because the non-medication interventions become far more effective if the person is on medication that works. In other words, you can do all the coaching, and organizing, and planning that are part of the non-medication interventions far more effectively if you’re taking a medication that is helping you. So I would absolutely get my doctor to give my son a trial of Ritalin, or Adderall, whichever he or she likes to prescribe. Make the trial involved enough so you don’t just try one dose of one medication. You try various doses of one from the amphetamine category, and one from the methylphenidate category. The holding off on medication is real common. People have a tendency to think of it as an extreme intervention and it isn’t. It’s not surgery. It’s not last-ditch when all else has failed. Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of people approach it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
If they approached it more like, okay, let’s get the proven intervention, namely medication, and then do all the rest you’d get much better results with a lot less heartache and struggle. People talk about the side effects of medication, and all those side effects can be controlled simply by lowering the dose, changing the medication, or discontinuing it altogether, but what they really ought to talk about are the side effects of not taking the medication. Year after year after year of underachievement, of frustration, of knowing you could be doing better if only you could get the mental eyeglasses that medication can provide. I hope you’ll give that some thought. Please do get back to us. We love to get follow-up emails from these calls. Okay, Miss Sarah, do we have another one in our mailbag?

Sarah Guertin:
We certainly do. We have lots of parents this week. You can tell it’s back to school time, but this next email comes from Lisa, who is the mother of a 12-year-old girl in the seventh grade. Her daughter was diagnosed with ADHD in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until fifth grade. She writes: Please share more on the psychiatry of ADHD medications, and interaction with the brain. My very specific question is about why a 10 milligram methylphenidate seems to be more effective than the fancy slow-release Concerta. What are the risks of me sending methylphenidate to school for my immature 12-year-old to take at lunch hour? (I heard kids sell them). Thank you again for all you do to help me learn to be the best mom I can for my challenging child. Lisa.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you so much, Lisa, for writing in. 12-year-girl in the seventh grade. You got the diagnosis in the second grade, but didn’t start medication until the fifth grade. That’s sort of in keeping with the previous call. There’s a tendency to put off starting medication, which again, I don’t think makes much sense. Everyone does it so don’t feel bad. Everyone thinks that medication is this last-ditch intervention, but it really isn’t. It’s a first-ditch intervention. At least I think it ought to be because there’s very little downside. The meds work right away, and if you don’t like what they do you stop it. That’s only common sense. And if you do like what it does, you say hooray, and you continue it. And that whole process can take a week. You can really find out pretty quickly if the meds are going to be helpful or not. Sometimes more than a week, maybe a month, but it is a process of trial and error.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, your specific question, why does 10 milligrams of methylphenidate seem more effective than Concerta, which is a slow-release medication? The short answer is we don’t know, but specifically with Concerta, it may very well be if you’re taking the generic Concerta that the osmotic pump, the generic manufacturer didn’t get it right. Concerta was the first long-acting medication we had. And when it went generic, all of a sudden people were saying, “My Concerta doesn’t work anymore.” And that’s because the osmotic pump, which was developed at MIT, and allowed for the medication to be slow-release, a lot of the generic manufacturers didn’t get it right. They didn’t know how to technologically reproduce the original Concerta so all of a sudden people were getting different generic formulations that suddenly didn’t work so that could be why.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now there are other slow-release forms of methylphenidate. There’s Ritalin LA, for example. LA stands for long-acting. And if you want a long-acting formulation, I would suggest giving that a try, or trying a different generic of Concerta, or trying brand name Concerta because there’s a distinct advantage to not having to bring your medication to school. Most schools will not allow kids to bring it in for one of the reasons being you already cited that some kids sell their medication. Some kids lose it. Some kids pass it around to friends just to see what it does. You know how kids are with experimentation. That’s dangerous. You don’t want to be doing that. So I would not have my son or daughter bring their medication in their pocket to school.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What schools do do is you can give it to the school nurse and she can dispense the medication. Now that’s inconvenient. The child has to go to the school nurse at recess, or lunchtime, and a lot of people don’t want to do that. So I think it’s worth it for you to hunt down a long-acting methylphenidate that does work. And don’t forget if you don’t find a methylphenidate, there’s always amphetamine, Adderall, or Vyvanse the long-acting version. Adderall XR, extended-release, or Vyvanse.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What can you do to be the best mom you can be? Learn all you can about ADHD. My most recent book is Delivered from Distraction. There’s a ton of information in there. Superparenting for ADD is another book that is worth it. And there are many others out there by many other authors. This field has become richly written about, which is great. And you might subscribe to the wonderful magazine ADDitude. That’s A-D-D-I-T-U-D-E. Terrific, terrific magazine full of really good articles every month that it comes out. I hope this answers your questions. I’m just looking back and trying to see. I think I addressed it, but the main thing you can do for your daughter is to love her, which you’re already doing. Sorry about that. My cell phone just went off. The producer always tells me to turn off my cell phone and, of course, I forget. And so then I will get my wrist slapped during the break for not turning off my cell phone.

Sarah Guertin:
Everyone knows your ringtone.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, I’m sorry for that interruption. There’s methylphenidate and there’s amphetamine. Those are the two molecules that comprise the bulk of the stimulant medications that we use to treat this condition. And it is a matter of trial and error. You can’t predict which one will work best for any given child, but it’s worth trying a few before you give up, different doses, and different formulations. As I said, the best thing you can do for her is love her, and you know that. Provide structure. Provide a routine. Provide what her brain usually doesn’t do so very easily.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And make her feel proud of having it. The more successes she experiences, the more she feels proud of having the imagination I’m pretty sure she’s got. Having the kind of spontaneity, the kind of humor, all her quirkiness make her feel proud of because she should be proud of it. We need this in today’s world. These are the people that make the changes that bring us what we’re hoping for. Anyway, Lisa, thanks so much for writing and please give us follow-up. We love hearing about what happens to the people that our listeners write in about.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to tell you about Landmark College in beautiful Putney, Vermont. It is the best college in the world for students who learn differently, with ADHD, for other learning differences, or autism spectrum disorder. It’s fully accredited not-for-profit offering bachelor’s and associate degrees, bridge programs, online dual-enrollment courses for high school students and summer programs. They use a strength-based model at Landmark, which as you know is the model that I certainly have developed and subscribe to, to give students the skills and strategies they need to achieve their goals in life and really expand upon what they believe they’re capable of doing. It is just a wonderful, wonderful place, and I can’t say enough good about it. I myself have an honorary degree from Landmark College of which I am very proud. Landmark College in Putney, Vermont is the college of choice for students who learn differently. To learn more, go to lcdistraction.org. That’s lcdistraction.org. Okay, let’s get back to today’s topic. So do we have another email?

Sarah Guertin:
We have a couple more here. This next one comes from Tricia and she writes: I enjoy listening to your podcast to help me learn more about how I can help my 11-year-old son use his ADHD superpowers. I have read your Driven to Distraction book as well. Where we struggle is explaining his brain to the grandparents that don’t see him on a day-to-day basis to know how to deal with, or understand his behaviors. They are used to the other grandkids that are very organized and even keel with their emotions. Do you know of a concise general resource that we could point them to so they can better understand and appreciate his unique brain?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, this is common. Grandparents, and people who didn’t grow up with ADD as part of the lexicon often get grumpy about it and say, “What is this nonsense? All he needs is more discipline.” And that’s simply wrong. It’s understandable because they don’t know what they don’t know, but they need to know what they need to know. Now it’s hard to educate your parents. As people get older and more fixed in their ways, they become less open to hearing the truth. So how do you present to them the truth? Sometimes you can’t do it as their child. So sometimes you rely on a book, and the book I would give them would be not Driven to Distraction, but Delivered from Distraction because it has newer stuff in it. The first chapter is called The Skinny: Read this if you can’t read the whole book, so get them to read the highlights.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Now, if they’re willing to listen to you, and if you’ve read it, just explain to them. Keep it simple. The analogy that I like best is the one that I use most often. Having this condition is like having a Ferrari engine for a brain, but with bicycle brakes. It’s not hard to understand that analogy. You’ve got a powerful, powerful brain, a powerful imagination. Your challenge is in controlling it. It’s not easy to control the power of the brain that you’ve got so you need help in strengthening your brakes. That’s a pretty good analogy, and the grandparents should be able to understand that. And the way to strengthen your brakes is not to punish or shame the child. In fact, that’s the worst thing you can do, but to support and give structure.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And when they screw up, say “Your brakes failed you.” You see, because that’s not shaming. There’s no shame in my brakes failed me. It’s a mechanical problem. So I got to work on my brakes. Okay, now how do I do that? Well, I exercise. Maybe I take medication. Maybe I practice more. Maybe I work with a coach, or some teacher. Maybe I get extra help. Maybe I eat right, get enough sleep, not too many video games. These are all ways of strengthening my brakes. And if grandma and grandpa can reinforce that, then that’s so much better than undermining it with grumpy remarks about all he needs, or she needs is more discipline.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Telling someone with ADD to try harder, or get more discipline is about as helpful as telling someone who’s nearsighted to squint harder. It’s antediluvian. It misses the biological science, the point. And even though we live in an age that people are not always receptive to science, we ought to be because science means knowledge, and knowledge is powerful. Lack of knowledge on the other hand is hugely destructive. So try to go with knowledge and science, and try to help your parents help their grandchildren. Grandparents are the greatest blessing next to dogs God ever created. And so let your child’s grandparents live up to the blessing that they have to offer. Thanks so much for writing in.

Sarah Guertin:
Okay. We have one more and it, too, is from a mom. Her name is Denise and she wrote: Good afternoon, Dr. Hallowell. I have enjoyed your books and podcasts for many years now as my husband and I are learning how to help our 13-year-old son with ADHD. My son has been under the care of a child/adolescent psychiatrist since he was nine years old when he was started on Concerta. In the recent 12 months, my son is not liking his doctor. My son describes him as confrontational, and he feels like the doctor is trying to make him mad, or put him down.

Sarah Guertin:
I have a professional relationship with the doctor and have subtly brought up the fact that my son does not like coming to see him recently in hopes that things would improve, but they have not. I would very much like my son to have someone he likes to talk to and can connect with, a physician, therapist, or social worker. These teen years are hard, and I know my son is frustrated with his ADHD. I’m writing to see if you know of any child/adolescent psychiatrists, or therapists in the Chicago area. With much gratitude for your work and positivity in the area of ADHD. Warmly, Denise.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, Denise, it is very important that your son like his doctor. Everything will go better. The meds will work better. The interventions will work better. Your son will feel better about himself. And if he’s come to a point where it’s time to part ways with this doctor it doesn’t mean the doctor is bad it just means the chemistry. People leave me because they don’t like me. It happens to all of us. It doesn’t mean we’re bad doctors. We can’t be liked and appreciated by every single person who comes to see us. Just like you can’t like every food, or you can’t like every movie you see. There’s an element of chemistry in the doctor-patient relationship that you really need to respect.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The doctor won’t take it personally. If the doctor is being unpleasant to your son your doctor probably doesn’t like seeing him either. So if you leave him, he’ll probably be relieved. He probably knows that their relationship has gone a little bit sour. Again, no bad guy here. It just happens in doctor-patient relationships. It happens in clergy-parishioner relationships. It happens with merchants. You have a merchant that you’ve always liked and suddenly you’re not getting along with the merchant, or the plumber, or the gas station person. You have people that you’re working well with, and then you’re not. And rather than getting mad, and pushing forward move on. Fortunately, there are many doctors in the Chicago area. Plus your son will be relieved that you’re listening to him that you’re understanding what he’s saying and just say, “Well, this doctor helped us for a while. Now we’ll find another doctor who can meet you more on your terms and get along with.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I don’t have a specific referral in Chicago, but I can tell you the best psychiatrist in the world, in my opinion, is the head of child psychiatry at Northwestern. His name is John Walkup, like you walkup to a store. W-A-L-K-U-P. John Walkup. Now he won’t have time to see your son himself, but his office I’m sure could give you a referral either within their department, or somewhere. Just to have John Walkup’s name in your book of names, he is an amazingly wonderful child psychiatrist. He’s both an academic, but also just a wise, knowledgeable, commonsensical, down to earth human being. And since you’re in Chicago, I would try calling his office and seeing if you can get a referral, and explaining to your son, you respect what he’s saying, and you’re going to find him a new person because it’s important, not just for medication, but for understanding this condition as he continues to grow and develop. And, also, that you have an ally in the doctor that you can turn to and trust.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Like I say, I don’t treat disabilities. I help people unwrap their gifts. And in order to have someone unwrap your son’s gift, your son has to like that person, and believe in that person, and enjoy seeing that person, and laugh together, and be silly, or whatever your son’s stock-in-trade is. And they’re out there. A big city like Chicago there are plenty of clinicians. It’s not easy to find. You have to do some legwork, make some phone calls, but I’ve given you a starting point. Good luck in unwrapping your son’s gift.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, thank you. Thank you, thank you for sending in those emails. Please keep sending them in. Send it to [email protected] You can send us an email, or record a voice memo. You can put a message on a carrier pigeon, but it’s got to come to [email protected] And I don’t think the carrier pigeon could get onto the internet. It’s a sad thing that we don’t have carrier pigeons anymore, or smoke signals, or any of those ways of communicating that we used to. I’m just saying that tongue-in-cheek. Of course, it’s a wonderful thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s going to do it for today, unless you want to send me a smoke signal to the contrary. Thank you so much to all of you who wrote to us. Really, we rely on your messages. Please keep them coming. It’s the way we exist is because of you, and without you we wouldn’t exist. Remember to like Distraction on social media. We’re trying to beef that up and be sure to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen so you never miss one of our lovely episodes. And please let us know how we could make them even better. Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is Scott Persson, the wonderful Scott Persson. And our producer is the also wonderful, talented Sarah Guertin. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was made possible by my good friends at OmegaBrite Wellness. I take their supplements every day, and that’s why I invited them to sponsor my podcast. Shop online at OmegaBrite, and that’s B-R-I-T-E wellness.com.

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Advice for ADHD Parents Raising ADHD Kids

Advice for ADHD Parents Raising ADHD Kids

Raising children is tough. Having ADHD and raising children with ADHD is really tough. In this week’s mini podcast episode, Dr. H responds to one dad looking for help.

“I have ADHD and four of my children have been diagnosed with ADHD by their pediatricians. I wish I were a confident guide for them about how to thrive with this condition, but instead I’m a mess… What can I do to make sure they are best prepared to thrive when I can’t show them by example?” 

Ned offers reassuring advice that’s applicable to everyone facing a similar struggle. 

Books mentioned in this episode: Delivered from Distraction

Superparenting for ADHD

Can you relate to what Dennis wrote? Let us know what you think. Email [email protected].

Thanks to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness! Ned takes their supplements every day. Distraction listeners, you can SAVE 20% on your first order with the promo code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of “Distraction” is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College, offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, and welcome to “Distraction”. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Today, I want to respond to a question we received from one of our listeners named Dennis. And, by the way, we love getting these questions. Dennis wrote, “Hello, Dr. Hallowell. I have ADHD and four of my children ages 15, 13, 10, and eight have been diagnosed with ADHD by their pediatricians. I wish I were a confident guide for them about how to thrive with this condition, but instead I’m a mess. I was diagnosed at age 37 after having developed anxiety, depression, and a panic disorder. All the kids have taken Ritalin, but none takes it regularly because of the way it suppresses the appetites of the two oldest.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The current pediatrician sees no problem with not taking it as long as they are doing well in school. My wife is inclined to use the same gauge for the necessity usefulness of the medication. But, I have seen my kids lose confidence and joy as they’ve aged, and I’m sure it’s partly because of typical ADHD woes. I think they just hide the effects well, as I did when I was a child. What can I do to make sure they are best prepared to thrive when I can’t show them by example? Should I try to get them under the care of an ADHD expert? If so, how do I even find one? I’ll appreciate any suggestions you offer. Dennis”.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, first of all, Dennis, I think you’re a whole lot better than you think you are, just judging from the letter you wrote. You’re a caring, attentive, loving father. And I think, like an awful lot of adults with ADHD, you sell yourself short. And you don’t need an ADHD expert. They are hard to find. I don’t know where you live, but the most reliable way is to go to the nearest medical school and go through the department of child psychiatry. That’s where most specialists reside, in medical schools and department of child psychiatry. But, failing that, just get one of my books. Honestly, not to peddle my own wares, but they’re very good. And I would get “Delivered from Distraction” or “Super Parenting for ADD”. Either one of those would have more than you could possibly need or want. “Delivered from Distraction” or “Super Parenting for ADD”. And read those and you’ll become an expert, not only for your kids, but for yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And learning about this condition is the single best way to master it, to turn it from a liability into an asset. And that’s the goal. I don’t treat disorders. I help people unwrap their gifts. And the way to do that is to understand the condition, the ins and outs, the nooks and the crannies, like a Thomas’ English Muffin, which I had one this morning. A lot of nooks and crannies, a lot of little holes, a lot of interesting terrain in the world of ADHD. And the more you can understand it, the more you can anticipate the pitfalls and take advantage of the upsides. Regarding medication, I think you’re wrong to say don’t bother with it as long as you’re doing well in school because they may still be struggling even though they’re putting up good grades. You can be number one in your class and be struggling, not be performing as well as you otherwise could.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like needing eyeglasses or driving on square wheels. So, I would not use grades as a gauge of whether or not you need it medication. However, I would work with your pediatrician, or whatever doctor you do see, to find a medication where you have no side effects other than appetite suppression without weight loss. So, you have to eat. And the best meal to pig out is breakfast. Have a high calorie breakfast: eggs, pancakes, bacon. If you’re in a hurry, make a shake with yogurt and ice cream and some frozen fruit or fresh fruit, whatever, and some powdered protein. You want to get some protein in for sure. But, 80% of the time you can find a medication regimen where you have no side effects other than appetite suppression without unwanted weight loss. And then you should take it every day.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In fact, you’ll want to take it every day because it’s nice having eyeglasses instead of having to squint, or it’s nice having round wheels instead of driving on square wheels. So, I would learn about the condition, read my books. If you want to find an ADHD expert, go to the nearest medical school, the department of child psychiatry, and then work with your doctor to find a medication regimen where you can take the meds every day, including weekends, without side effects, just with target symptom improvement. And if you do that, confidence will rise because it’s nice to do well. And if they’re doing okay without medication, imagine how much better they can do with medication. And, again, the anxiety and depression that so often accompanies ADD is usually due to the fact that the ADD itself is not well-treated. You feel anxious because you know you’re missing stuff, and you feel quote/unquote depressed because you’re underachieving, you’re frustrated, and it’s disheartening to underachieve, not do as well as you know you could do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I hope that answers your questions. They’re very good questions, and you are a very good dad. Thanks so much for writing in, and keep us posted. Let us know how this goes. Well, I want to, once again, thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite Wellness. I’ve been taking their omega-3 supplement for years and recently started their CBD supplement as well. OmegaBrite products, I trust them because I know the woman who’s in charge of the company, a Harvard Medical School graduate. She’s very fussy about quality, efficacy and is always looking to make sure that the product she has is the best in the business. And “Distraction” listeners can save 20% off their first order with the promo code “podcast2020” at omegabritewellness.com.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
All right. Remember to reach out to us with your questions, thoughts, and show ideas, just as Dennis, who wrote in. We love to get your questions. We will answer them and keep you informed and up-to-date. To do it, to send us an idea or a question, send an email or a voice memo. Those are great because we can play them on the air. Send an email or a voice memo to [email protected] That’s the word “connect” at distractionpodcast.com. And check us out on social media. We’re on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’re working hard to develop much more of a social media presence, so help us out with that, would you please? “Distraction” is created by Soundscape Media. Our producer is the wonderfully perfect and estimable Sarah Gertin, and our recording engineer and editor is the brilliant, talented Scott Persson, and that’s “person” with two S’s. I’m Dr. Ned Hallowell. Goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

How to Avoid Arguments with Your Kids

Being a parent is hard, and it doesn’t come with a handbook. If you find yourself fighting with your kids and feeling frustrated by them, Katherine Winter-Sellery offers some effective strategies you can use to help you bring harmony to your home.

Katherine’s next Guidance Approach to Parenting class begins September 28th, and she is offering a special discount to Distraction listeners! Save 20% with the promo code: DrNed20. Click HERE for more information.

To download a copy of the free e-book, 7 Strategies to Keep Your Relationship with Your Kids from Hitting the Boiling Point, go to ConsciousParentingRevolution.com.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas. Write and email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Hello, welcome to Distraction. I’m your host, Dr. Ned Hallowell. Glad to be with you again. We’re all aware of how much life has changed since this pandemic started. And with everyone staying at home more, there of course will be disagreements and conflicts in your household particularly if you have kids. My guest today is here to help. Isn’t that great, we always bring people in who can help. Her name is Katherine Winter-Sellery, and she’s taught thousands of parents as well as executives about how to be better communicators. She joins me today to help us all maintain harmony in our homes and our relationships. Catherine, welcome to Distraction.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Thank you so much. It’s such a pleasure to be with you today. It’s great to be here.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Tell me, how did you get into this area of working with parents and their kids?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I started, well, literally 30 years ago, more or less close to 31 years ago. I’d studied Chinese and speak Chinese and was working as a commodities trader, running a firm in Hong Kong trading commodities. And then I started having kids and my husband is an architect. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Do you have ADD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not diagnosed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ll bet you do most commodities, and your life story, anyway-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I wouldn’t be surprised.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Anyway, so there you are speaking Chinese, trading commodities [crosstalk 00:02:22]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I’m sure there’s so many undiagnosed out there. Oh my gosh.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Totally.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So there you are speaking Chinese trading commodities and you started having children-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And started having children. And we had a son and here we were very successful professionals who were complete dear in headlights when it came to like, Oh my gosh, what do we do? A discipline issue would show up and I didn’t have a method to approach conflict resolution or coach for better behaviors. Other than that, tried and tested and failed from my perspective at least, rewards and punishment thing. So I became a student of conflict resolution. I’d also gone to law school. So I had a natural interest in that. And I just became passionate about communication in families and ecosystems and developing ways to create change in behavior without doing it and paying such a high price for it, which you do. You pay a high price when you use a heavy hand that that makes someone feel ashamed of their behavior rather than it’s a teachable moment.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. So you developed this method over a few years I gather and tell us about it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, it’s actually over like decades. I started with Dr. Thomas Gordon, Parent Effectiveness Training and became, I found that course and took it over and over and over again, and finally became actually a trainer for them. And then I studied with Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication and the father of restorative justice in American prison systems. And I sat at his feet and just took every word in and made it, it just became my passion.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
His name was John Rosenberg?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
No, it’s Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. Okay. And what kind of doctor is he?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is a doctor of psychology. He was the founder of the Center for Nonviolent Communication, CNVC.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. That’s great. And he’s a psychologist, he’s a PhD?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He is, yeah.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Marshall Rosenberg. [inaudible 00:04:40] To look him up. Restorative justice [crosstalk 00:04:42]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Totally, restorative justice in the American prison system was all because of Marshall.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Wow. So what brought you to him?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, life is such a… you meet somebody, you meet somebody, and I was at a conference in Brisbane and I was there with the Effectiveness Training Institute of Australia who I’d received some certifications to train under their banner. And there was a conference and the woman speaking at the conference was the author of a book called Children are People Too. Her name is Dr. Louise Porter and she was the keynote. And I literally hung on every word that came out of her mouth. And I strategically positioned myself at the dinner next, I got to sit next to her. And it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And she gave me her book and she and I began a conversation because she had some ways of looking at communication that were different than Gordon. And I wrote to her after reading her book and said, “Wow, are you sure about this?” And she said, “I’m pretty sure I’m happy to have a discourse.” So that became a really interesting, we became pen pals, looking at some of the techniques around communication and connection. And the thing that she brought to my attention that was so powerful is that when you say to anyone, “I feel so upset when you don’t clean up the kitchen.” That there’s a lot of blame that the feeling that I’m experiencing was because of their action. And we all know other people don’t make us feel the way we do. That we can’t blame other people for our feelings. And it opened my mind to how deeply embedded, and it was actually something that I guess became much more nuanced for my own ability to communicate honestly, and not blame other people for the feelings that were coming up in me, but yet to want to talk about their behavior.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
So this just took me to a whole another level and she introduced, she came to Hong Kong. I brought her there as an expert speaker at my children’s school. And she saw that I had a book called Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life, which I had gotten at that event, that conference where I’d met her. And she said, “Have you read it?” And I said, “I haven’t yet.” “Oh, that was the best book I read last year.” So I feverishly read it and fell in love with yet another gem. And the gem in that moment was that I chose how I heard you. I get to choose how I hear you. Not just, I get to choose how I communicate, but I get to also choose how I hear what’s being communicated. And that just opened my mind, that I actually have a choice about how I hear other people. And all of this in the end over many, many, many, many years, eventually Louise and I created a program together with another colleague that I had been teaching with at the time. And that’s the course that I’ve been running now for 12 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s called Conscious Parenting?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It is. It’s the guidance approach to parenting. And it is part of this conscious parenting revolution that I’m just, it’s become sort of my reason to get up every day and make a contribution, is that families hurt and misunderstandings create breakdowns. And the people we care the most about, sometimes we find ourselves in such a difficult position, we’re not connected, we don’t have the warmth that we wish we had or that we had when they were maybe little and somehow it’s been lost along the way. And I know it breaks people’s hearts.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, it does. If people want to read about it, learn about it, where would a listener go to learn about this? Is there a website?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. consciousparentingrevolution.com is the website. And I have a free ebook, which people can take and digest, and it has strategies. And I have blogs as well that people can just enjoy, every week I put a new blog up and it just starts the healing process. Everybody wants healing and they want to create that connection that just makes all the difference. It’s why we have children. It’s to have that beautiful deep connection where we feel so much a part of each other’s lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So, the people who would go or people who are having conflict in the family and they’ve drifted away from their children, something like that?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a whole variety of clients, if you will. There’s everything from the, my kids are really young and I don’t want to get it wrong. And so I’m looking for some support. It’s one of the only things in the world that we do without training, if you will.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The biggest job on the planet is parenting. And so very few people actually go in prepared and accidentally they develop resentment flows. So retaliation, rebellion and resistance, it’s called the three Rs. And they are what happens in relationships. And if you can start by not creating the three Rs and the resentment flows, wonderful. And if you’ve done it and you didn’t even realize it was because of the way that you were parenting, and you thought that you just had kids that were disrespectful or didn’t pay attention or never listened to you, or didn’t cooperate, then it might actually not be about them. It could be that they’re in reaction and you can change the whole thing by changing how you’re approaching conflict resolution.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you used a term that I’ve never heard before. What’s a resentment flow?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
A resentment flow is also a secondary problem. Let’s take a simple example where you’re asking a young child to pick up their toys and help you clean the table off to get set it for dinner. And they ignore you, and you ask them again and they ignore you. And then you start saying things like, “If you don’t do as I’ve asked, no dessert.” And they say something like, “I don’t even like that stupid dessert.” And then you say, “All right, if you don’t help me out, no TV.” And you just keep upping it. And that finally ends with them running upstairs, slamming the door and saying, “I hate you daddy. Or I hate you mommy.” That’s a resentment flow.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a resentment flow. Why don’t you just call it an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Because, well, I guess you could call it an argument. The resentment is that it starts to damage the relationship because they’re resentful of way that you spoke to them. And you’re resentful of the lack of communication or the lack of support or the lack of harmony or the lack of them doing what you wanted them to do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Is there something specific about a resentment flow that distinguishes it from an argument?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, I think the key here is whether it stays past that moment, if it stays beyond, like we just had a disagreement, everything is fine, but when they run upstairs and slam the door and say, “I hate you.” And then you impose the punishment that you said you were going to do, “No TV for a week.” Then not only do they hate you in the moment, but it goes on and on and on. And ultimately the thing was about getting the table tidied, and now we’re so far away from what’s called the primary issue, and everything is now about the secondary issue, which is how I feel about my mom or dad, because they don’t get me. And all they ever do is demand that I do this demand that I do that. And they never see it from my side. They don’t even understand me. It’s a breakdown.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Walk us through that scene, doing it the way a conscious parent, who had done the revolution-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Would do?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, how would she do it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Okay. So when a child says no to you, a conscious parent looks at the no as a yes to something inside of themself. So, I get curious about when they’re saying no to me and not doing as I was hoping that they would do, why are they doing that? What’s going on inside of them that’s getting in the way of them doing what I was hoping that they would do? I then shift from repeating my side over and over and over again, what I want. And I shift to wondering about what’s going on for them. So it would go something like this. My daughter’s name is Pear. “Pear, it seems like you’re really involved in something on this table with all your toys. And I was hoping that you could tidy it up, but because I see that you’re really into this and you can’t even take my side into consideration. I’m wondering, are you worried that the way you’ve got it set up right now, if we move it, it’s going to wreck your game?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And then I would probably get, “Yeah.” I mean, “I got everything set up just the way I want it. And if we move it, it ruins my game.” “Oh, I see. So you’re trying to figure out how to do what you want to do and you can’t figure out how to do that and also do what I want you to do?” “No, mom, it’s like, you always get your way and I never get mine.” “Oh, I see. So you just feel like, I just want you to do what I want you to do, and I’m not ever thinking about what’s important to you?” “Right. You just want me to do what you want.” “Oh, okay. Well actually that’s not what I want. I want your needs to be met and my needs to be met. What do you think we can do so that both of our needs could be met here?” “I don’t know. I don’t have any idea. What do you think I could do? I don’t know. Mom, what do you think?” “Well, I mean, I have a couple of ideas. If I take a picture and we move everything and then set it up, we could use the picture to help us figure out what to, and how to set it up. That’s one thought, what do you think about that?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
“Well, I guess we could do that. Or there’s that cardboard box in the garage. Maybe we could just place everything in the box and then I can just move it around the house.” “Well, that would work too.” And then we just kind of go into the problem solving. So we stay on the issue at hand, which is that I just wanted to get the table cleared and the resistance to that wasn’t disobedient or disrespectful or any of those kinds of things. It was someone not being able to figure out how to meet their needs and my needs at the same time. So children are people too. And if we begin to look at resistance as not as defiance, but as there’s something in them that is getting in the way or blocking their ability to cooperate. And as long as there are no built up resentment flows, it’s as simple as they can’t figure out how to meet my needs and their needs at the same time. And so it’s really easy for us to figure out ways to problem solve collaboratively.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I just have such a inner bristle to jargon, but okay, I’ll go with resentment flows. Because what [crosstalk 00:16:17]-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, actually it’s interesting that that’s, Thomas Gordon was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times based on his research regarding resentment flows. And so what Gordon discovered is that when you use a controlling form of discipline and you demand that a child do something, and then you punish if they don’t, what you generate is a resentment flow. And that appears as retaliation, rebellion and resistance. So the three Rs and the research around that is what gave him the nomination.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, I get it. And it’s brilliant. And it’s wonderful. I just hate jargon. But resentment flow, fine. He’s introduced the term and used it eloquently. I’d never heard it before. And I always balk at jargon. I would say, why not just put it in plain English, but I think we can all identify with the resentment flow, know what it is, and certainly work around it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
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Dr. Ned Hallowell:
What you were saying reminds me a little bit of Ross Greene and collaborative problem solving, do you think there’s an overlap there or not?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Oh, for sure. I mean, there’s so many collaborative problem solving models.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. The spirit is very much the same.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s wonderful. It’s really wonderful. And you have courses on it or how does it work?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah, no, I do have courses. I’m in a course right now and I’ve S I’ve literally taught thousands of people over decades, where up until now I would be running courses in schools to parent communities in person. And with the sort of advent of the new world, I just transitioned to doing this online. And I have a group that I’m taking through the process now, and I have another group starting September 28th.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And how long does it take? So if a listener said, boy, I really want to learn how to do this. It sounds so freeing getting out of struggles with my kids. What would they do? They’d sign up for-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
They can sign up, my initial course is a 90 day parenting reset. And so over the course of three months, we do a coaching call every week that I do online with my group. And then every week I also give them pre-recorded sort of lesson with worksheets for them to not just understand it conceptually, but begin to land it in the way they’re changing and shifting their behavior. So, it’s a period of three months where we begin to actually take on the underlying beliefs that get in the way of looking at children as people too. There’s some shifts that have to happen around our beliefs about children should be obedient and compliant. They should do as they’re told there’s something actually around parents not generally looking as their children’s right for autonomy, for example, should be honored because they’re children and they have no right to autonomy, but actually everyone has the need for autonomy, including children. So some of our beliefs about children are getting in the way of actually truly being with them like we would any other human being.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, no, indeed. Having raised three of them, early on we treated them as autonomous beings and they were wonderful. They’re three very happy adults now. In fact, similar to you when we started having kids, I realized here I am a Harvard trained child psychiatrist and I know nothing about how to raise children and particularly about how to instill joy. I was an expert on misery. I knew a lot about misery, but I didn’t know much about how to instill joy. So I did research and I wrote a book called, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and of my 20 books. It’s my favorite one. It really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Wow!

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And it’s the manual that we use to raising our kids, The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness. And you’re so right. How you treat them really matters and to get into what you call resentment flow. I just call the big struggle and so many families, they just live in the big struggle and it’s damaging on both sides. So if someone wanted to take your course, they go to consciousparentingrevolution.com?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yes, they do. And actually, I think I had it in the show notes, or I spoke to Sarah about it that I would give your audience a 20% discount so that there’s some appreciation to you for having me on and that they get to benefit.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And what is the fee?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
The fee is 497. And so a 20% discount, I think puts it at 397 or something like that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Something like that. Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s for the 12 week course, and it’s truly amazing value. So, it’s really a lot of hands on support over the course of 12 weeks and the gems, the gems from my own experience over 20 years, starting at the beginning, really it’s been longer than that because our son is 25 and he was two. When I started down the journey of recognizing that, how I’m being with regard to sorting out problems, mediation, working together with one soul to another in moving forward to resolve an issue, it’s no different with children than it is with adults. And if I have demand language, I’m going to activate the three Rs, if I have consideration for their needs and I model it, then they are naturally considerate of my needs.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s just about modeling.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. It’s such a beautiful concept. And if they sign up for the course, it’ll be online and how many others are in the course?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I have a group right now of 17, so it’s a very intimate group.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s wonderful.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it allows for everybody to learn on Monday when the module is dropped in and they can listen to it as often as they want. A lot of the information it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. I do a whole unit on self-esteem for example, and how we have probably grown up where our worth has somehow been confused with our competence, and breaking that so that children have a sense of feeling worthy, whether they’re good at baseball, whether they excel at tennis, whether they got an A on the test, de-linking competence from self-worth and just all these ways in which we accidentally, and I do think it’s accidental, no one intends to link someone’s competence to their worthiness. And yet when we’re trying to get our kids to be capable and competent, that message somehow does get communicated, that they love me if I’m good at this and they’re not so happy with me if I’m not. And my love and belonging is linked somehow to my capacity to be good at Chemistry or excel at Biology, or be a star on the tennis team.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do you break that? How do you-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
How do you break that?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Well, you create the ecosystem in your family where the sense of love and belonging, I love you worths and all, I love you, you have to be intentional about it. You have to be languaging, my love for you doesn’t matter. And also break the habit of rewarding the wanted behaviors, because we can’t just give the, let’s go out and celebrate and have an ice cream only if they do the level of performance that we wanted. Let’s go out and have an ice cream if you failed, because I just want to be with you and let you know that I know how hard this is and how disappointing. And I can imagine this is a real struggle for you right now. And let’s go do something that’s enjoyable and fun together, and let’s have a chuckle and a laugh over it. Let’s be there for our kids in all the ways that we think when we’re behavioralists that we only reward the behaviors that we want so we get more of them.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Let’s break out of that mold completely and stop treating our children like their dogs. And we just give them a treat when they’re good so we get more good behavior and we give them a little smack on the bottom when they’re bad, so that they never do that again. That whole world doesn’t work.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right now. Of course, it doesn’t. And how do you counter the messages that society puts out? That you’re only as good as your most recent triumph?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, absolutely. I mean, you have to be intentional. You have to be intentional and you have to have the conversations at the dinner table, and you have to have the conversations in the car, and you have to have the conversations every time you see their little faces sink, because they are in the world of external locus of causality. They’re out there comparing themselves to others. They’re out there thinking that if little Johnny next door is better at this than I am, then somehow they’re more worthy than me. So, it has to be languaged. It can’t just be assumed. We have to know how to sit down with our children and say, “I can see you’re really upset and that it’s hard for you to celebrate with other people’s successes,” because somehow we don’t know where the languaging came and the message was delivered, that you look to other people to determine whether you’re worthy or not. We need to stop that, in our family, we’re going to put up big signs that say, “It’s acceptable to fail here.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
We’re going to put up big signs that say, “If you didn’t make a mistake, you’re not learning.” We’re going to try to overcome the messaging of society, every single turn of the corner, so that the children and our family know that it’s not about that. And that this is not whether, they do well or not. It’s that no matter how they do, how are we with each other and how are you with yourself?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It’s like the line from the poem, “If.” It’s written on the tunnel heading to the center court at Wimbledon, it goes, “If you can look at triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters, just the same.”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Beautiful.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And I think it’s, [crosstalk 00:28:45] Yeah. I mean, it’s a wonderful lesson to learn young. I’ve always said to my kids just, “It’s the love of the game. The victories and the defeats are part of the game. And so, as long as you love the game, you win, that’s the victory in life is finding a love of the game.” And just what you were saying, these poor kids think they’re worthless if they’re not number one, and I call it the great Harvard fallacy, that if I can get into Harvard, then I’ve got it made. And if I don’t, then I’m a second rate. And the kind of, well, just what you’re saying. And I think you’re so right. You have to consciously and deliberately oppose that because society is sending out constant messages of, you’re only as good as your-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
GPA?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah, exactly. And then-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And it’s heartbreaking. I mean, it’s so heartbreaking as you and I both know in Hong Kong, it has the largest or the highest suicide rate among young women in the world.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh boy.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And there’s so much pressure on these kids that if they don’t, it’s a very, I’m going to call it, I hope I don’t get in trouble draconian educational style, and it’s very much achievement oriented. It doesn’t celebrate all kinds of brains. It just celebrates a very linear, sequential, achieving scientific brain. And for the creative child that thinks out of the box and doesn’t fit into that mold and is definitely not going to do well in that system. There’s a sense of them being made to believe that they’re not as good as other people, that there’s something wrong. And not only that, they’re losing face for the whole family. It’s bringing shame to the whole clan.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yup. And they’re my ADD guys, and they’re going to change the world for the better if they’re not broken through the educational system. And the Chinese are catching on. They want us to come over and teach them divergent thinking. They want us to come over and teach them creativity. And they don’t realize that they’re regimented system literally beats the creativity out of these kids.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. I went to teach it, Hong Jo University in 1983, and I was young. I just graduated and I get to [Hong Jo 00:31:14] And they say to me, “What we really want you to do is teach them how to think.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And I thought, wow. I don’t even know where to begin. And that’s such a part of the American education in so many ways. I think it may still be one of the strengths, is there’s a round table where you do, do a lot of just conversation and thinking, thinking, thinking, and brainstorming. And that is a really beautiful way to just open your mind to possibilities.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Absolutely. I mean, that’s what… I went to a high school at a school called Exeter in New Hampshire and all it was a boarding school and all of the classes were taught at round tables and it was all Socratic. So it was all about open-ended questions. And you were always imaginatively engaged. Is the opposite of drilling and memorizing. And I saw the value of this. I consulted for a few years to the Harvard Chemistry Department because they had a bunch of suicides there. And one of the things I learned during my time there, they get the best applicants from around the world. They have five Nobel Prize Winners on the faculty. In every year a new crop, and it’s a big department, over a thousand postdocs and graduate students. And every year a new crop arrives in Cambridge and the mandate is go into the lab and discover new knowledge.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, one group runs into the lab just eager to mix chemicals and blow up the building, but the other group freezes up and says, “No, you’ve got to tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you want. I’ll run your experiments all night if you want me to, but you have to tell me what to do.” And that’s the group that basically had their imagination snuffed out back around fifth grade when they got the message that do exactly what you’re told. And if you do that, then you will succeed. And it’s just tragic because what you really need in life, as you know as well as I do is the ability to take initiative, is the ability to come up with new ideas, is the ability to, I call it play, and this doctrinaire system just doesn’t allow for that, does it?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s just so sad. And I hear you so deeply that it’s truly this mind boggling turning of the ship, turning of the Titanic and moving into territory where it’s not as measurable, and therefore it’s scary. And there’s also some reality check around children and their brilliance. Isn’t because of, I don’t know. I mean, I have no research for this. It’s not because of learning the three, reading, writing, and arithmetic. It’s opening up the mind to allow for the access to that big magic, where all of it is out there for discovery and the more we’re free to make mistakes, the more we’re free to discover and create. And this is, to me, what gets me so excited, is to find the ones that are willing to risk.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes. You have to be given permission. You have to know that it’s safe to fail.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yap.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Success has made a failure as you know and if you’re not failing, you’re not trying anything new.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Absolutely. Marshall used to say, “Until your children know that they can say no to you, then they can’t say yes.?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. That’s so true, and mean it. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And mean it.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. That there’s actually the fabric, the ecosystem that’s been created in the family system that allows for you to say no. And I even extend that a little bit further to the school systems where if you have that authoritarian model again, there’s only one thing that you get to say, and that is, “Sure, okay, I’ll do what you tell me to.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes sir. Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And this, again, gets in the way of that beautiful autonomous aspect and nature to the human being even the young ones, where they have within themselves, some dignity.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
I remember there was a kid that I got to work with for a while. And he was just always in trouble. And it was a very prestigious Hong Kong family going to the best school. And every day they would walk into the classroom and he was told, “Now, take off your backpack and hang it over here on the hook. And be sure to get that book out and put it on your table.” And he wouldn’t do any of it. And he was just so in reaction to all of this control, and he would just say to me, “If they’re going to treat me like a baby, I’m going to act like one.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
He says to me, “As if I don’t know where to hang my bag.” And he says, “As if I don’t know to take the book out, I mean, seriously?” And I just thought, part of me was just like the dead poet’s society. I wanted him to stand on a chair and just go, “Yeah.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly. Good for you.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And the parents said to me, “What’s wrong with him” And I said, “There’s nothing wrong with him, but there’s something wrong with this school you have him in.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Because it’s the prestigious school and La, La, La and I was just like, “Make choices.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Do you want to a child who will be a person who can take initiative and use his imagination or do you want to have a robot?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Exactly. Yeah. And I mean, honestly, what’s going on in Hong Kong right now. I mean, really just the robot will be fine.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Well, Katherine, you are wonderful. You really are. I can’t thank you enough for coming on. And-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
This has been so fun. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I want to say it again. Katherine Winter-Sellery, and her website is consciousparentingrevolution.com. You can get her free ebook there. Seven strategies to keep your relationship with your kids from hitting the boiling point. And I can tell you for sure, just talking to her in this interview, she’s spot on. She knows what she’s doing. She’s been trained by the best people and she’s been a serious student and she’s got decades of experience. And my gosh, it’s a deal to take her course. If you’re a parent and if you’re having some struggles as most parents do, there is a rational way out of it that’ll be good for both of you, not just your kids, but for you, because you don’t like struggling with your kids any more than your kids like it. And if you’re not careful, it takes on a life of its own.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
And as Katherine says, it becomes part of your culture, part of your family culture. And you don’t want that. The good news is, you can change it. You have to be deliberate, but you can change it. And she will show you how, and I can tell just to, I’m looking at her picture now and hearing her, she’ll tell you how in a very warm and a helpful way, she’s not going to sit there and tell you what to do, but she’ll suggest what you might do. And there’s a big difference. There’s a big difference there. So, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, get the free ebook, sign up for the course with a 20% discount. And my gosh, that’s so modestly priced. I mean, if I were a parent, I’d take advantage of it right away. And the next course starts September 28th, you said?

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yes, it does. Yeah. And it is, it’s priced for access. So that, I’m about the revolution. I’m about giving parents the skills that they need to change their family’s systems if they need to, if there’s resentment, clean it up, and to also be able to go back to that school and say, “I’m actually not okay with this approach. Would you be willing to hear me out?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Not in an aggressive way, because that doesn’t get us anywhere, but in a really sort of open-hearted. “I’m in discovery. Would you go down the road with me?”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. Well, “Wouldn’t you like to learn something new?”

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Yeah. Just that Mr. Rogers neighborhood kind of thing.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Exactly.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It really is about supporting everybody in learning how to manage their emotions.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It sure is.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
And when kids are under threat and they can’t meet their needs and they’re falling apart, I call it drowning, and they don’t know how to drown politely just like the rest of us. So let’s not get so hung up on how people drown and let’s get really connected to what the needs are that they’re not able to meet underneath it. And if we start to meet the needs, all the behaviors that we didn’t like disappear anyways. So let’s start with the heart.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So they can swim.

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Okay. Katherine Winter-Sellery, thank you for welcoming us to your neighborhood. It’s really-

Katherine Winter-Sellery:
It’s so lovely. It’s just been really beautiful to be here with you. Thank you so much.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Thank you so much and, please again, go to consciousparentingrevolution.com, sign up for a course, get her free ebook, and remember to reach out to us with your questions, comments, and show ideas. We thrive on them. We love them. We eat them up and we turn them into shows of their own. So write an email or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected] That’s [email protected] Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our recording engineer and editor is the amazing talented Scott Persson. And our producer is the also amazingly talented Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell saying goodbye for now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
The episode you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

Minimize ADHD’s Impact on Your Relationships

How do you work through issues that arise when you and/or your significant other have ADHD? Sue Hallowell (a couple’s therapist and Ned’s wife of 31 years) sat down with Ned in the kitchen of their Massachusetts home to talk about the realities of being married to someone with ADHD. Sue’s insights shed light on how to navigate the frustrations of being the “non-ADHD” half of the couple, and what predicts whether a relationship will succeed. You’ll hear the love as Ned and Sue talk shame, blame, excuses and more in this heartwarming episode.

Please reach out to us with your questions and episode ideas! Email [email protected].

Click HERE to learn more about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Thank you to our sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Distraction listeners SAVE 20% on their first order with the code: Podcast2020 at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin and our recording engineer/editor is Scott Persson.

This episode was originally released in August 2019.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode is below.


Dr. Ned Hallowell:
This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com. And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Sue Hallowell:
Even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right. Hello. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell and welcome to the opening episode of Distraction. Fittingly enough, the first episode in August of 2019 is graced by my lovely and wonderful wife, Sue, always the favorite guest. I don’t think I need to introduce her, but for those of you who have not heard her before, Sue and I have been married for 31 years. I would say wonderful years, but she doesn’t like me to say that because she doesn’t like me to brag. She would prefer I say 31 strenuous, difficult, horrible, years. But anyway, we’ve been married for 31 years and that’s a fact and, and we have three wonderful children, now aged 30, 27 and 24, Lucy, Jack and Tucker. Sue is an incredible therapist, a social worker, the best therapist I know, and she also runs our office in New York City and runs our lives.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
She’s an amazing woman, an amazing woman, the kindest person I’ve ever met, and truly the cornerstone of our lives. We’re grateful to her every, every single, single day. I really love having her on the podcast. And her specialty naturally enough is working with couples where one or both members have the wonderfully interesting condition so misleadingly called ADHD, which I’m renaming, John Rady and I are renaming in our next book, VAST, variable attention stimulus trait. So without further ado, let me introduce Sue. Look how I made that little rhyme, ado, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Ado, Sue. That’s my Ned.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Welcome, Sue.

Sue Hallowell:
Thank you, sweetie.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So we can talk about so many different things. I said I was going to ask you, what are the elements that you think predict a marriage that will go well versus a marriage that won’t go well, particularly when one member of the couple has this thing called, that I now called VAST, but most people call ADHD?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can certainly tell you what predicts in couples therapy what’s going to make things go best. It’s whether both people are really willing to look at themselves and what they bring to the relationship, the challenges they bring to the relationship. I always like to say that whoever comes in my door, actually whether they have ADHD or not, but every couple that graces my door, whether they will cop to it or not, their primary thing that they think needs to happen is their partner needs to be fixed. That if only my partner wasn’t the way they are, if only my partner did this better, then the relationship would be better. And that is just not true. And-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re still trying to fix me.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m not trying to fix you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yes, you are.

Sue Hallowell:
I’m trying to understand you as you’re trying to understand me. And I know that I bring a lot to the table. That’s why I tell this story over and over about the kitchen counter, because we talk about the kitchen counter and how what a mess it was for years. I don’t know if everybody knows, but not only do I have a husband with ADHD, I have three children with ADHD, and in our kitchen we have a counter that is constantly covered with everything.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
In fact, we’re doing this interview right next to that kitchen counter.

Sue Hallowell:
Which is …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Covered.

Sue Hallowell:
… covered with things. I used to get so mad about this. I used to say, “How can you guys be so …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Inconsiderate.

Sue Hallowell:
… inconsiderate? You don’t care. It’s not so hard to …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Selfish.

Sue Hallowell:
… put things over there.” I would get so angry about it. But one of the things that I’ve really learned to do for myself as well as encourage other people, is I began to think, why does this bother me so much? Why does this make me so angry? I began to think it’s almost like it’s imperative that the counter be clean, that that is a moral issue, that that is the way a counter is supposed to be. But when I really stopped to think about it, what I understood about myself is I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and when the counter is covered, it makes me feel chaotic. I’m someone who likes things structured and like space more organized.

Sue Hallowell:
And when that counter, it has a lot on it, I end up feeling chaotic. Now, that’s my problem. It’s really not everybody else’s problem. And once I was able to be aware of that, then I was able to develop strategies. So we developed this plan where every day I straighten out the counter and then after two days, I’ve let everybody know anything of theirs will be removed from the counter. I don’t do it with anger anymore. I don’t yell at people. I don’t get upset with people. You guys don’t like it when I move things, but you’ve been given lots of notice.

Sue Hallowell:
But what I’ve been able to do is look at myself and not just blame you or the family for doing something. I figured out where the issue is. People in a couple begin to think that there are defined ways that the world should be. And we have to understand, not just about our partner and why they do things the way they do them, but we also have to understand why we want things the way that we do them. And couples, when each individual is really able to look at themselves and stop just wanting to fix their partner, that’s when a couple can really make progress.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative). And how, when you do your couples therapy, how do you help them do that? That’s our dog barking in the background, by the way. Our dog is Max.

Sue Hallowell:
The first thing I really have to do is develop a relationship with both people, because no one wants to hear that they’re the locus of the issue. It often takes a lot of work. Learn how to ask questions and be curious about both themselves and curious about the other person rather than make assumptions. One of the things that I try to work with people first to try to understand is we all are smart enough to know that we all view things from our own lens. But it’s really funny, in those that are close to us, even though we know that the other person has a different way of thinking, feeling, processing the world, we make the assumption that they’re doing it in the same way that we are. So we determine their intentions, we determine everything based on how we see the world.

Sue Hallowell:
So early on I try to begin to help each person separate that out a little bit so that they can begin to question and have some curiosity that maybe the other person’s reasons or ways of doing things isn’t what they assume it is. Once you’re able to do that, then you’re be able to begin to think about it differently. I talk a lot about intention and impact with people. One of the mistakes I made when I first started doing this work is everybody was talking about how the person with ADHD, how their brain is different and how it’s not their intention to forget things all the time. It’s not their intention to not pay attention.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? But that would get you a little ways, but then I found the couples therapy still falling apart, the person without ADHD is continuing to be angry. And then it went more into the, oh, that’s just an excuse. What I found out that I had to pay more attention to was impact, that even though the person with ADHD, their intention may not be to ignore, to not pay attention, to forget, they have to understand that that behavior still has an impact on their partner.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So when you’re able to begin to make sure that both people are being heard, then they’re able to begin to take more responsibility for themselves.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Let’s say the ADD guy says, “I didn’t mean to forget your birthday. My intention was to remember your birthday. I just forgot your birthday.” So then you say what?

Sue Hallowell:
Then I say, “So it was your intention, but how do you imagine that makes …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Her feel.

Sue Hallowell:
… her feel? And are you able to open up your yourself a little bit to imagine and to listen to how that makes her feel?” And I say, “That’s really going to be hard for you,” because people have ADHD, they often have so much shame and so many years of being told that they do things wrong.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I say that to them and I say, “So that makes it really hard for you to hear the impact on her because you feel so bad. There’s part of you deep down that feels so bad about what you’re doing, you can’t tolerate.”

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So what does he do with that? He feels bad and ashamed, so he says-

Sue Hallowell:
I think shame is the greatest disability there is, honestly. I know you talk about fear, but I honestly think that shame is. I think that what shame and its counterpart, externalization, and for those of you don’t know, shame is when you take whatever is happening in you internalize it and blame yourself and you go-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you feel bad about-

Sue Hallowell:
You feel bad about yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Well, let’s be concrete. You feel bad that you forgot the birthday.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, you feel like you’re just not a good person or you’re never good enough and you never do something.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So you generalize and you say …

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’m just a bad person who forgets birthdays.

Sue Hallowell:
Exactly. Exactly. Or you externalize because you can’t tolerate that feeling of feeling bad and feeling shame.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re just a bad person who always blames me for-

Sue Hallowell:
Or I wouldn’t have forgotten your birthday, but you-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me.

Sue Hallowell:
You’re so mean to me, I forgot it or I forgot it because of blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, something outside of yourself. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
What both of those are, are really ways to keep the feelings away, even though you’re feeling-

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How is shame a way of keeping the feelings away?

Sue Hallowell:
Because it’s rather than taking responsibility for just the fact that you’re someone who is forgetful, one of the symptoms of your ADD may be that you become very distracted with a lot of different things and you forget things. That in and of itself is not … If you can separate out the shame from it, if you can see it as a symptom, if you can see it as just something about how you are in terms of behaviors as opposed to part of who you are, it becomes easier to not let it be such a big deal. It makes it so that you don’t have to feel bad about yourself. And when you don’t feel bad about yourself, then you can develop strategies to help yourself.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I’ve been taking a new supplement called OmegaBrite CBD. As I’ve mentioned before, OmegaBrite CBD was created by my good friend, Dr. Carol Locke, graduate of Harvard Medical School and her company, OmegaBrite Wellness. They’ve been making the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. Well, Carol and her team decided to break new ground and having set the standard for purity, safety and efficacy in the world of omega-3s, and they’ve brought that same commitment to excellence to their new CBD supplement. I take it myself. It helps me with my reactivity, my impatience. It just puts a smoother edge. It’s in no way is it a buzz or a high, anything like that. It’s way more subtle.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But it’s a very noticeable subtle effect and one that I’ve come to really appreciate as I take it every day. So, all right. Get OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com. And now Distraction listeners can save 20% on their first order by using the promo code podcast2020. That’s podcast2020, go to omegabritewellness.com and order OmegaBrite CBD. You’ll be glad you did, just as I am. Now, how does the other person, the person whose birthday was forgotten, how does she deal with that?

Sue Hallowell:
Well, I can tell you that there’s a true two-pronged approach for them too, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
First of all, if someone really feels like their partner understands the impact, really takes responsibility for how it makes them feel, you see, when somebody says, “I’m just a bad person,” that’s really about them. It takes the focus away from the person whose birthday was forgotten, right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
Which is the feeling that people often have. If someone can really say, “Look, you’re right, I really have trouble. I get distracted and I forget things, and I really understand that hurts your feelings and made you feel unloved, and I am really sorry about that,” if someone hears that, they still may not like it, but at least they feel connected. At least they feel loved, and that’s a really different experience. That’s what a lot of these couples can never get to.

Sue Hallowell:
Now, of course, the person with ADHD, they also really have to buy in and understand that so if they forgot somebody’s birthday because they’re not distracted, or if they didn’t pay attention, that would mean probably something more dynamic or would mean that they were angry or it would mean that they don’t care. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sue Hallowell:
So they have to be willing to understand that there is a different lens and they really have to buy into the fact that their partner with ADHD really does get distracted and when they forget something, it doesn’t have the same meaning for them. So they have to really be able to buy into the idea of intent and see that it really is a different thing, which they are more likely to be able to do if the person with ADHD really feels the impact. Does that make sense what I’m saying?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yeah, totally. Yeah. Yeah. And then there’s the old problem where the spouse doesn’t want to have ADD be used as an excuse.

Sue Hallowell:
Right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
I always say to people, “No, it’s not an excuse, but it is an explanation.”

Sue Hallowell:
But where it becomes an excuse, where that comes from is exactly what I’m talking about. When people go to externalization of shame rather than taking responsibility.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, but it’s an explanation to help you take responsibility more effectively.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s exactly right.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s not an excuse to get out of taking responsibility.

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. But you know what’s amazing to me is people, even people who proudly wear the banner of ADHD sometimes, they say, “I have ADHD and I’m proud of it,” they fight the symptoms that make up the ADHD and that’s where the problem come.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
How do they fight them?

Sue Hallowell:
So they may say, “I have ADHD,” but say there’s someone who’s always late because that’s an easy. They won’t really take responsibility that they really have trouble being on time. They make it about, “Oh, I just can’t help that,” or, “I’m a bad person because of that.” Or, “If you love me, you just accept me”, instead of just really understanding yes, timeliness, because of the way that I think in the world, being on time is hard for me. And if you can really see that as a problem that you want to solve, then you can develop strategies that aren’t going to work all the time, but you can certainly do better.

Sue Hallowell:
But people with ADHD, they’ll often say, “Oh, I don’t want to get help with that.” Or, “I don’t really need to put strategies in place. I’m just going to be better next time. I’m just not going to do that anymore.” Or they get mad at the other person for getting upset with them. So even though they say they have ADHD, they don’t want to accept that they really have trouble with time management, or they don’t really want to accept that they have trouble with different things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But on the other hand, just to take the other point of view, I don’t think someone should spend a lifetime trying to get good at what they’re bad at. At some point you want to say, “Look, I’m just not going to get better at this now. So I probably always will be late.” And you don’t offer that as an excuse. You offer it as a part of who I am. In my own personal case, as you know, I don’t remember names. I just simply can’t remember names and I no longer feel ashamed or guilty about that. It’s just a fact of who I am. If someone doesn’t like that about me, that’s their problem. I no longer think that’s a failing on my part because it’s a quirk of my brain. It’s like the fact that I’m also left-handed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
It doesn’t hurt anybody, and if someone does take offense at that, that’s their problem. I’m fully ready to explain to them I have this neurological problem. My brain doesn’t remember names. Unless I walked around with a notebook writing down, okay, describe the person, took a picture of them, it would be ridiculous the lengths that I’d have to go to. And for some people, the lengths they have to go to to be on time would be equally ridiculous.

Sue Hallowell:
I do. One of the things that I really do work with people is realistic expectations of what is possible to change and what isn’t possible to change. Right?

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
One of the famous ones use for people is you would be surprised, or maybe you wouldn’t about how many people come in and one of the major issues is whether people close the cabinet doors.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Oh yes, yes.

Sue Hallowell:
Or whether they turn off the lights before they go to bed.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Yeah. I wrote, you know my satirical piece in Super Parenting For ADD where the guy says, “When I take something out of the cabinet and I don’t even notice if it’s open or not.”

Sue Hallowell:
That’s right. That’s right. That’s the kind of thing that I absolutely agree with you, that there are not really strategies one can put into place. I don’t spy so much the timeliness issue so much. I do agree that you will never be perfect at it and I really work with people around, again, what are realistic expectations. But I do think that there are strategies that you can put into place that can help you with that. You just have to understand what it is that gets in your way and be willing to do that.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
But once you’ve put all the strategies into place …

Sue Hallowell:
Then you’ve done the best you can do.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… I’ve done all I can do about names. Well, not all I could do. Like I said, but I’m not going to go to the length of writing notebooks and putting posters up and hiring an assistant to follow me around.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, of course.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
So I suppose if I were a politician maybe I’d have to do that. But since I’m not, I’ll just live with people wondering why I can’t remember their name. But yeah, you don’t want to blow off being late because it can cost you your job and it can cost you …

Sue Hallowell:
Lots of things.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… lots of things.

Sue Hallowell:
It’s really important.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right, right, right.

Sue Hallowell:
And I do try to make the differentiation, but yes, they’re never going to be perfect on it. But I do think that that is the kind of thing that there are more practical things that you can put into place rather than your brain just escaping you.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
Right.

Sue Hallowell:
Right? So I really try to work with people around what is realistic and what isn’t realistic and what needs to be done. And sometimes I try to get people to think out of the box. Like this isn’t about timeliness, but I worked with a family and I think a couple of the kids had ADHD too and mornings were just very disorganized. And even if dad, it would take him a while once he took his medication and it would just be a mess. The family was just very distressed about this. What we ended up deciding was he would either have to stay in bed until everybody left or get up before everybody got up.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
That’s a good example of thinking outside the box. Well, talking about escaping us, the time has escaped us. As always when we have you on the time just disappears. Would you come back again soon?

Sue Hallowell:
I surly would.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We really should have you on more often. It’s wonderful. I know our listeners love it as much as I do. We just begin talking and we just keep talking, which is not surprising.

Sue Hallowell:
Well, after 31 years.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 miserable years. Correct? Is that what you want me to say?

Sue Hallowell:
Now, now.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
31 impossibly difficult years full of [sturm and drang 00:00:23:59]? Right?

Sue Hallowell:
You know that’s not what I mean. You know that what I hate is when “experts” make it sound like they have all the answers. You know that it’s something I can’t stand.

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
We certainly do not have all the answers. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, who does not have all the answers.

Sue Hallowell:
And his wife, Sue …

Dr. Ned Hallowell:
… who does not have all the answers, thanking you for joining us on this first episode of Distraction. Please come back and join us again. We look forward to building this community as this year develops. Thank you so much. This is Dr. Ned Hallowell, until next time for Distraction.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe, third-party tested, and it works. Shop online at omegbritewellness.com.

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5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

5 Tips for Parenting in a Pandemic

Parents of children with ADHD we are thinking of you! Dr. Hallowell offers five ways to help you manage your kids while quarantined. These are simple things everyone can employ– like having set breakfast, lunch and dinner times. And they’ll work even if your kids don’t have ADHD.
As you’ll hear, structure plays a key role!
What are you doing to stay sane? Share your thoughts with us! Write an email or record a voice memo and send it to [email protected].

Learn more about our newest sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD! Dr. Hallowell takes the supplement every day because it’s safe, 3rd party tested, and it works. Shop OmegaBrite CBD online at OmegaBriteWellness.com.

Do you know a high school or college student with ADHD or other learning difference? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Check out this episode!

A transcript of this episode can be found below.


Dr. Hallowell:

This episode of Distraction is sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

And by Landmark College offering comprehensive support for students with ADHD and other learning differences. Learn more at lcdistraction.org. Landmark College, the college of choice for students who learn differently.

Hello, this is Dr. Ned Hallowell with a mini episode of Distraction. Each week we’ve been putting out what we’re calling a mental health check during this pandemic. And today I’d like to address the specifically people at home with children who have ADHD, which I have myself. And give sort of a overview of the issue and then a few little tips that might be helpful to you.

You know people with ADD, we are born renegades. We like to run wild and run free. We are open prairie people. So our idea of hell is being cooped up, stuck in one place. Reined in. We hate rules. We hate being told what to do. The best way to get us not to do something is to tell us to do it.

So now, we’ve got this total terrible situation where we all have to stay indoors and we all have to play by really tough rules of not interacting, not going out and being cooped up. And so, the people with ADD particularly, nobody likes it, but people with ADD hate it. It pushes all of our buttons.

So the first tip if you will, is just to recognize that fact. If you have ADD, if your kids have ADD and you’re having to shelter at home, just be aware that that is a setup. That is a setup for all kinds of conflict, for anger, for tantrums, for breaking rules, for busting out. And try to acknowledge that amongst each other. Say, “This is real stressful for us,” and don’t be surprised when fires break out so to speak, when tempers flare.

So other than recognizing it, which is a big deal. Once you recognize something and name it, it’s a lot easier to deal with. It doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s easier. One really good tip is to structure your day. People with ADD need structure. We bristle at it, we push back at it, but we really want it.

Structure is like the walls of the bobsled ride. You know my analogy for ADD, a Ferrari brain with bicycle brakes. Well, structure strengthens brakes. And structure, contrary to popular belief, potentiates, enhances creativity. Far from repressing it, structure enables creativity.

And my two favorite examples are Shakespeare and Mozart. Shakespeare wrote everything in iambic pentameter. Bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba-bu-ba. All of his stories, iambic pentameter, blank verse, very structured. And yet within that structure he created infinite variety, the most beautiful poetry that’s ever been written in English.

And Mozart, the same with music. He wrote within very tight forms, very tight forms. But within that tightness he created unbelievable beauty and variety. So think Shakespeare, think Mozart when you’re creating structure. You’re not being a repressive schoolmarm at all. Without structure you have chaos. With structure you have potentially beauty, but certainly your chances at harmony, living at home, sheltering at home, are much greater.

So what do I mean by structure? Have a schedule, have a breakfast time, lunch time, dinner time. Have a project. Okay, your project Joey is to design the house you’d like to live in when you get to be 30 years old. Draw it on a piece of paper. And Sally, your project is to call grandma and grandpa and get their life story and start a grandparent book. And your project is to make sandwiches for lunch.

I mean give everybody a project. Or even better, let them design their own project. So the projects can be you make up your own or mom and dad will give you one. Either way but have them have a project, have them have a structure and have them have goals for the day. Structure is really, really important.

Another little tip is to have games. This is a great time for games, board games, charades, hide and seek around the house, have games. Games are also, it’s a kind of a project. And it engages the imagination, which is what you want to do.

A third tip is to allow for space. If you live in a place that’s big enough, try to let people go off into corners by themselves. This is not the time to force togetherness. This is the time to give permission for people to go off to their room, lie on their bed, read a book, veg out, what have you. Because that togetherness, you can reach a critical mass and the next thing you know you’re fighting with each other.

And then finally, expectations. Try to manage your expectations. So, you anticipate there will be conflict. And you anticipate, what Ross Greene calls, collaborative problem solving. Instead of issuing orders, you issue alternatives. Try this, that, or the other thing, and work out the differences that way.

So those five suggestions, add structure, play games, allow for space, create projects for everybody every day and manage your expectations so they’re in some concordance with reality and reasonable expectations. It’s a hard time, but it can also be memorable in a good way of closeness and learning how to get along during periods of stress.

That’s it for this mini episode. Before I go, I’d just like to thank our sponsor, our wonderful, wonderful sponsor, OmegaBrite CBD. That’s OmegaBrite, O-M-E-G-A-B-R-I-T-E, intentionally misspelled. I take it every day along with their Omega-3 fatty acid supplement and I highly recommend them both. OmegaBrite CBD, was formulated by Dr. Carol Locke of Harvard Medical School. And her company OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years.

She’s really a remarkable woman and the work she’s done is truly outstanding. All our products are safe, third party tested and they work. I can tell you, I take them as does my wife as well. Please help support our podcast and check out OmegaBrite CBD online at omegabritewellness.com.

Okay. Remember to reach out to us with your comments and questions. We need them. We love them, we grow from them. They’re our mother’s milk. Reach out to us please with your comments and questions and thank you to those who have been sending in emails. We just love them. You have no idea how our eyes light up when we see a new email from you guys. We truly mean that. We love hearing from you.

If you have a question, a comment, or a show idea, anything, try recording your thoughts as a voice memo on your phone and then email the file to us at [email protected]. We really will absolutely read them all and mull them over and very likely do what you suggest. Unless your suggestion is for us to go jump in the lake. Well, maybe we’d do that when it gets warmer.

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media and our recording engineer is the amazingly talented Pat Keogh. Our producer is the also amazingly talented, delightful Mary Poppins-esque, as I love to call her, Sarah Guertin. I am Dr. Ned Hallowell and thank you, thank you, thank you so much for listening.

The episode of Distraction you just heard was sponsored by OmegaBrite CBD, formulated by OmegaBrite Wellness, creators of the number one Omega-3 supplements for the past 20 years. OmegaBrite CBD, safe third party tested and it works. Shop online at omegabritewellness.com.

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Flipping ADHD On Its Head

Flipping ADHD On Its Head

Like our host, Dr. Jim Poole also thinks ADHD can be a gift. The two share a candid conversation about Dr. Poole’s holistic, integrated and empowering approach to identifying and promoting the strengths, and managing the challenges of those with ADHD.

His new book, Flipping ADHD On Its Head: How To Turn Your Child’s Disability Into Their Greatest Strength can be found HERE.

Link to Dr. Poole’s FastBraiin

Do you have a question or comment? Write an email or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone with your question and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Do you know a student with ADHD or other learning difference looking for a higher education experience? Tell them about our sponsor, Landmark College, in Putney, Vermont. It’s the college of choice for students who learn differently. Find out more HERE.

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Is There an ADHD and Alzheimer’s Connection? And Other Listener Questions

Is There an ADHD and Alzheimer’s Connection? And Other Listener Questions

Dr. Hallowell addresses listener questions regarding ADHD and balance; Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease; natural treatment remedies and vitamin recommendations.

Thanks so much to our listeners Caroline, Anna, P.G. and Helen for sending in your questions!

Do you have a question or comment for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone with your question and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

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#HeartsforADHD Helps Children See Their Strengths

#HeartsforADHD Helps Children See Their Strengths

Taking place February 1-14, the Hearts for ADHD campaign encourages parents and caregivers to tell their children what they love about them through handwritten notes on paper hearts. Hearts for ADHD is the brainchild of Jennifer Kempfe, who joins Dr. H to explain where the idea came from and how you can participate.

Post your “heart pics” on social media using #HeartsforADHD!

To download the heart templates or to learn more go to HeartsforADHD.com.

Hearts for ADHD Facebook Group

To learn more about Jennifer go to FantasticallyFocused.com.

Do you have a question or comment for us? Write an email, or record a message using the voice memo app on your phone with your question and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

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How to Help Kids Learn to Make Friends

How to Help Kids Learn to Make Friends

Shyness, lack of confidence, anxiety, and alienating behaviors can make it difficult for some children to make friends. Coach, speaker and author, Caroline Maguire, joins Ned to share some of the practical ways parents and caregivers can help improve a child’s social skills. Caroline offers specific activities that can be done at a mall or family party that will give children of all ages the skills they need to make progress in their social life. Her new book, Why Will No One Play with Me? The Play Better Plan to Help Children of All Ages Make Friends and Thrive is highly recommended by Dr. Hallowell.

SIGN UP to receive Caroline’s checklist to determine if your child needs social skills help click HERE.

Do you have a question for Dr. Hallowell? Write an email, or record a voice memo on your phone with your question and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

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How to De-escalate a Conflict

How to De-escalate a Conflict

In this quick 3-minute episode, Dr. H offers up several ideas for reducing the intensity of a heated situation. Whether it’s an argument with your spouse, a co-worker  or someone else, follow these simple steps to work toward resolution.

Do you have a question or comment? We’d love to hear from you! Write us an email, or record a voice memo on your phone and send it to [email protected]

Distraction is created by Sounds Great Media. Our producer is Sarah Guertin (@sarahguertin) and our recording engineer/editor is Pat Keogh.

Learn about our sponsor, Landmark College, HERE.

Episode image courtesy of Vic on Flickr

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