Children and Anxiety

Signs and How to Help Children with Anxiety – Anxiety –or what I call “toxic worry”–is rampant among children these days.  Ask any school teacher and she or he will tell you that kids are worrying far more than they did just a decade ago.  Not necessarily rising to the level of a diagnosable anxiety disorder, like obsessive compulsive disorder or generalized anxiety disorder, toxic worry nonetheless is really bad for a child’s health, school performance, and sense of well being and security in the world.

These kids really do need help.  Aside from obvious signs, such as a child sharing many worries with others, or complaining of various somatic complaints or missing school due to minor illnesses, here are some less obvious signs that your child–or any child–may be suffering from toxic worry.

Signs That Your Child May Be Suffering From Toxic Worry

       1. The child just “isn’t himself” or “herself”.  Nothing specific, but the sparkle has left the eyes, and the usual buoyancy has sagged.  The once-happy child has been replaced not by an obviously unhappy child, but a child who is not the formerly overtly happy child.

       2. The child is not sleeping soundly, and wakes up tired.

       3.  The child is unusually clingy, not wanting to be left alone when normally he or she is fine alone, and has trouble going to bed without being tucked in or read to.

       4.  The child asks many questions about the state of the world, the health of parents and relatives, the health of the family pet, and the state of parents’ marriage (when normally the child does not ask these questions).

       5.  You notice little cuts, bruises, and other marks that could be the result of the child picking at his or her skin, or you notice fingernails bitten down to the quick.

       6.  The stories the child writes for English class at school reflect a dark or apprehensive tone or describe impending doom or bad times.

       7.  In repose the child looks worried or apprehensive.  When asked what he or she is thinking, the reply is, “Oh, not much.”

       8.  The child develops various superstitions, not to the level of OCD where the superstitions have to be obeyed, but just little new habits, like wanting to triple check that the doors are locked at night or that the toothbrush is thoroughly rinsed out.

       9.  The child spends inordinate time in escapist activities, like on-line games, fantasy literature, or science fiction movies.

       10.  The child does not volunteer for new activities, new trips, new adventures, or even to try a new restaurant, wanting instead familiar people, places, and routines.

Children and Anxiety: Three Steps For Managing Anxiety and Toxic Worry

What a parent, teacher, or other caring adult can do is follow these three steps, which are my carry-it-with-you-everywhere first-aid kit for toxic worry:

        1.  NEVER WORRY ALONE.  This motto should be emblazoned on every person’s brain, regardless of ago.  Connecting with a trusted other is BY FAR the best immediate remedy for toxic worry.

         2.  Get the facts.  Toxic worry is usually rooted in lack of information, wrong information, or both.  Do whatever you need to do to get the actual facts.

         3.  Based on those facts, and with the person you turned to to worry with, MAKE A PLAN.  When you have a plan you feel more in control and less vulnerable.  Toxic worry derives from feeling low on control and high on vulnerability, so when you reduce feelings of vulnerability and increase feelings of control, you reduce toxic worry.  Making a plan does this. If the plan does not work, you revise the plan.  That’s what life is all about, revising plans that didn’t totally work.


Learn how the Hallowell Centers Can Help You.

When You Worry About The Child You Love

What is constructive worry?  What is toxic worry?  Dr. Hallowell gives guidance on what they are and how to tell the difference in his podcast on Don’t Worry, Do This Instead.

Managing Toxic Worry

Tips on Managing Toxic Worry  – While a healthy level of worry can help us perform efficiently at work, anticipate dangers, and learn from past errors, excessive worry can make an otherwise sane person seem crazy, devoid of sound judgment, peace of mind and happiness. So how do you curb the anxiety associated with stress and toxic worry?

First, it helps to understand what I call the basic equation of worry. This is a good way to conceptualize where toxic worry comes from:

Heightened Vulnerability + Lack of Control = Toxic Worry.

The more vulnerable you feel (regardless of how vulnerable you are) and the less control you feel you have (regardless of how much control you actually have), the more toxic your worrying will become. Therefore, any steps you can take to reduce your feelings of vulnerability and/or increase your feelings of control will serve to reduce your feelings of toxic worry.

But how do you stay out of the paralyzing grip of toxic worry?

If you’re walking through a minefield, how do you not feel so afraid that you can’t take another step? You need a plan. When you have a plan, you can turn to the plan for guidance, which immediately makes you feel as if you are less vulnerable and more in control whether you are or not. So whether the danger you perceive stems from the poor economy, a concern about your children, or a mole on your forearm that you think might be melanoma, you need a method to keep your fear from running wild so you can systematically dismantle the problem and take control.

10 Tips for Controlling Worry

1. Never worry alone.  

When you are alone, toxic worry intensifies. So talk to someone you trust – a friend, your spouse, a colleague, a relative. You often find solutions to a problem when you talk it out with someone. The mere fact of putting it into words takes it out of the threatening realm of the imagination and puts it into some concrete, manageable form.

2. All worry is not bad.

Identify all the things you worry about and separate out the toxic to your health worries from good worry. Good worry amounts to planning and problem solving. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive, unproductive, paralyzing, and life-defeating.

3. Get plenty of vigorous exercise.

Exercise is an anti anxiety agent and reduces the accumulated noise and helps relax you.

4. Repeat the mantra

“I’ll fix what I can and, then I’ll put the rest out of my mind,” when you feel anxious thoughts emerging.

5. Add structure to your life where you need it.

Often disorganization, poor time management creates anxiety. To help get you on track and calm your stress, consider hiring an organization coach. empowers individuals to identify, organized and master their organization skills. The National Association of Professional Organizers is another resource for finding coaches.

6. Reality – test your worry.

Regain perspective. Share your worries with someone who should know if what you are worrying about makes sense or if you have exaggerated it. So many of our problems are the result of overactive imaginations.

7. Use humor.

Make friends with amusing people, watch a Marx brothers movie, tune into Comedy Central or a humorous sit-com. Humor restores perspective; toxic worry almost always entails a loss of perspective.

8. Get plenty of sleep.

One good way to fall asleep naturally is to focus on counting your breaths. Inhale on 2-3 counts and exhale on 5-6 counts. This relaxes you and gives you something neutral to think about.

9. Avoid watching too much TV

or reading too many newspapers and magazines.

10. Get regular doses of positive human contact (connect – the other vitamin C.)

Avoid doses of negative human contact.  In other words, try, as much as you can, to be around people who are good to you and not be around people who are not.   

Learn how the Hallowell Center Can Help You.

Listen to Dr. Hallowell’s Podcast discussion on Worry.

For a dose of optimism, listen to Dr. Hallowell’s Podcast on “If You Believe It, You Can Do It!”

Adapted from: Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition
Edward M.Hallowell, MD, Ballentine, 1997

Don’t Let Anxiety Hold You Back!

If you’re struggling with anxiety, it may be hard to recall the last time  you weren’t feeling tense, worried, or on edge. Don’t let anxiety hold you back.  Anxiety can cause sudden panic attacks, may interfere with your personal or professional responsibilities, and is often tied to depression and insomnia. When you feel overwhelmed, you need a safe and rapid solution that can relieve your anxiety and help you regain your confidence and zest for life.

The Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest has a solution. They’re offering Alpha-Stim: A New Technology for Anxiety, Depression and Insomnia. 

What is Alpha-Stim?

The Alpha-Stim is a new technology designed for patients with anxiety, insomnia and/or depression who prefer a non-medication treatment approach. It’s also for those whose medication regimen is insufficient for treating their symptoms. The Alpha-Stim is a small, hand held, FDA approved device that uses electromedical technology to relieve anxiety, depression and insomnia in a safe and painless way. It provides long-lasting, cumulative relief without the risk of negative effects.

Listen to an audio recording of Alpha-Stim with Rebecca Shafir, M.A., C.C.C. and Jeff Marksberry M.D. Vice President Science and Education at Electromedical Products International, Inc.

Come to the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest and experience a safe, effective and medication-free approach.

Call (978) 287-0810 to set up your 30 minute Alpha-Stim trial session with Rebecca Shafir, Coordinator of the Alternative and Complementary Services.

Go to to read how Alpha-Stim works and the supporting research.

Dr. Hallowell reports, “We are very pleased to discover Alpha Stim, a safe and effective approach for our patients; I highly recommend it — our results have been excellent.”

Here’s what some of our Alpha Stim users say:

“I have tried several medications for my anxiety over the years with little relief and many side effects. The Alpha Stim works for me so much better without the side effects. I’m very pleased to have found this device, and recommend it to my friends.” Ben J.

“My 12 year old son had always fought medications and other more traditional relaxation approaches to curb the anxiety he experiences with his ADHD, but he thinks the Alpha Stim is cool. He uses it every morning before school to set the tone for the day. I use it a few hours before bedtime to help me quiet my mind. We love it!” Kathy O.

Looking for tips on ADHD & Anxiety?  

Anxiety is often brought on by “worry.” Dr.Hallowell offers the following 3 Antidotes for putting worry in perspective:

  1. All worry is not bad. Identify all the things you worry about and separate out the toxic to your health worries from good worry. Good worry amounts to planning and problem solving. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive unproductive, paralyzing and life-defeating.
  2. Exercise at least every other day. It reduces the accumulated noise and helps relax you.
  3. Repeat the mantra “I’ll fix what I can and, then I’ll put the rest out of my mind,” when you feel anxious thoughts emerging.

Dr. Hallowell offers 5 tips on Clearing out your mind in Distraction Mini Episode #34.

Dr. Hallowell Addresses False Accusations

Dr. Hallowell Addresses False Accusation:

I’m saddened to see false postings stating that I have connections to drug companies and Big Pharma.  I do not, and it is slanderous to claim that I do.  I’ve worked for my entire career to help people of all ages who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by using whatever methods help a specific person, always starting with education, then suggesting various other interventions from coaching to exercise to meditation to nutritional changes to neurofeedback, to parent and teacher training, and yes, sometimes to medication, which I closely monitor and supervise.  This is the widely accepted standard of care.  My philosophy to to use whatever intervention works, as long as it’s safe and it’s legal.  Fortunately, we have many tools in our toolbox that can help people who have ADHD.

Setting the Record Straight

It distresses me that we live in a world where people can lodge false accusations with no regard for the truth and find an audience on social media.  The truth is that I have no ties to drug companies.  Furthermore, I serve no private interest or corporation.  I am here to serve  my patients, and to educate the general public through my books and lectures. 

Please, let’s work together on social media to make the world a healthier more harmonious place.  Let’s use this great tool to connect constructively with each other, not to tear one another down.  Likewise, let’s start a movement together of spreading positive energy and good will.  Let’s do all we can to build each other up.  We all need daily doses of that. So let’s make it happen.  Thanks very much.

Click HERE to learn about Dr. Hallowell’s Strength-based Approach to Treating ADHD.

Listen to Dr. Hallowell’s YouTube video on: Stimulants, ADHD and Should You Be Concerned. 

ADHD – No Creative, Productive Outlet

ADHD – NO CREATIVE, PRODUCTIVE OUTLET: All of us do better when we are creatively and productively engaged in some activity. It doesn’t have to be overtly creative, like writing a poem or painting a portrait. Almost any activity can become a productive outlet that you feel good about. Cooking a meal certainly can be. Even doing laundry can be.

How can doing laundry be fulfilling?

By turning it into a form of play, by  turning it into a game. Children show us how to do this all the time. When my son Tucker was younger,  he turned his bath into a creative activity every time he takes one. He adds a few action figures and the game is on. If you are willing to be a little silly and let yourself go, you can turn doing your laundry—or anything else for that matter—into a playful, creative activity.

The more you can do that the more likely the activity will turn into flow, a psychological term invented by the great pioneer of the psychology of happiness, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is the state of mind in which you lose awareness of time, of place, even of yourself, and you become one with what you’re doing. In these states we are at our happiest as well as at our most effective.

The doorway to flow is play.

You can play at anything you do. If you have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), play comes naturally to you. So do it!  Play is deep. When you play, it changes the world. Play can turn the most mundane of tasks into an activity you lose yourself in. As such, play is not a silly, superficial activity. By play, I mean creative engagement with whatever it is you are doing.

The opposite of play is doing exactly what you are told to do; that is the refuge of people who have attention surplus disorder. For people who have ADHD, play should come easily. You just have to get shame, pessimism, and negativity out of the way and make sure you’re not so isolated that you get too depressed to play.

To get out of S.P.I.N., PLAY.

As you play, you will find something you like to play at over and over again. With any luck, it will have value to others. That is called a great career: some form of play that someone else is willing to pay you to do.

At core, being stuck means not having a creative, productive outlet. If you hook up to a creative outlet you can’t stay stuck. Oh, sure, you can get blocked. You can have periods of inactivity or frustration. But then you will start to fiddle around—to play—and you will dislodge the block.

Finding a Creative Outlet

Adults with ADHD who stagnate after starting treatment need to find some creative outlet to get going again. Everyone does better with such outlets, but for people with ADHD they are essential for a fulfilling life.

Once you find a creative outlet, or several, you will be much more able to hook your waterfall up to a hydroelectric plant. Don’t say you can’t find it. That’s negativity speaking. Get with someone who believes in you, or listen to the part of yourself that believes in you. Brainstorm. Try this. Try that. You’ll find your hydroelectric plant.

ADHD and Isolation

ADHD and ISOLATION: Isolation is often the by-product of shame, pessimism, and negativity. It intensifies the shame and negativity, and can lead to depression, toxic anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse, and generally poor performance in all aspects of life.

Staying connected with others is the most important life line any of us has. And yet, as naturally inclined to connect as most people with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are, their shame and negativity can grow so intense as to lead them to cut themselves off.

What To Do When You Feel This Happening To You

If you feel this happening to you, do all you can to counteract it. You may feel that all you want to do is to hide. Try as hard as you can not to let yourself do that.

  • Talk to a friend.
  • Go see a therapist.
  • Pick up the telephone and call someone you trust.

How Isolation Develops

Isolation develops gradually, almost imperceptibly, and you justify it to yourself as it happens. “Those people are just a bunch of hypocrites.” “They don’t really want me there.” “I’m too tired.” “I just want to stay at home and relax.” “I need my down time.” “My doctor told me to avoid stressful situations.” Of course, isolation is better than the company of nasty, disapproving, shame-inducing witches and warlocks.


So, as you try to reconnect, do so judiciously. One friend makes for a good start. Have a regular lunch date. Or a weekly squash game!

Learn about ways to connect here.

In this YouTube video Dr. Hallowell discuss the power of vitamin connect – the other vitamin C. The Surgeon General named loneliness as the #1 medical problem in the country. Moments of connection can boost your spirits. It’s in your power to live a life rich in human connection. WATCH NOW!

ADHD and Pessimism and Negativity

Yesterday, you learned how to handle SHAME.  Today, I’m tackling how to handle Pessimism and Negativity associated with ADHD.

Pessimism and negative thinking create a roadblock that conscious intent can actually dislodge like a battering ram if properly aimed. Likewise, pessimism and negativity—which may be boulder-sized due to years of failure and frustration—block your growth at every turn. If every time you have a new idea or go to meet a new person or begin to play a game you feel, “Why bother? This won’t work out well,” you constantly reduce the chances that anything will work out well.

One remedy for pessimism is to achieve some successes, but in order to gain those successes you may need to overcome your pessimism. Sounds like a Catch-22, doesn’t it? But there is a way out of the Catch-22. You can control what you think, to a certain degree.  You need to work on dismantling your pessimism. That does not mean you should become a foolish, empty-headed Pollyanna. However, it does mean you should escape the embrace of Cassandra, the doomsayer inside of you.

How to Break Down Negative Thinking

Controlling what you think is the domain of what is currently called cognitive therapy. Aaron Beck, and his student David Burns, have written superb, practical manuals on how to break the shackles of negative thinking. Also, Martin Seligman describes a method for achieving optimism in his book, Learned Optimism.

My favorite book on this topic for the ADHD audience is The Art of Living, by the Roman philosopher Epictetus, as translated and put into a modern idiom by Sharon Lebell. One reason I like to recommend it to people who have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is that it is short—under 100 pages. Another reason is that it has stood the test of time, and then some. Epictetus lived over 2000 years ago. He is the true father of cognitive therapy. His basic, guiding principle is that a person should determine what he can control and what he can’t. Then work on what he can control—similar to the serenity prayer used in Alcoholics Anonymous.

Controlling What You Can

One element of life we can control, at least somewhat, is how we think. Epictetus began his life as a slave. Ordered around every day, poorly fed, beaten, and abused as a slave, he evolved a way of thinking that refused to intensify his suffering by adding to it with wretched thoughts. He was so persuasive in teaching others his methods that he was released from slavery and became renowned as a great philosopher. His words were written down by his students and compiled into one of the first and best “self-help” books ever, a book that was so useful in dealing with difficult situations that Roman soldiers often carried copies of it as they marched off into battle.

It worked for Roman soldiers, and it can work today. I highly recommend this slim volume if you suffer from excessive pessimism or persistently negative thinking.


Today’s blog post will focus on  ADHD and SHAME (the “S” of S.P.I.N”)  Tomorrow’s blog will focus on P – Pessimism and Negativity.

SHAME:  The older you get, the more shame you are apt to feel if your ADHD is undiagnosed.  Perhaps, you feel ashamed of what a mess your pocketbook always is in.  Or you feel ashamed of how late you usually are, no matter how hard you try not to be.  And, you feel ashamed that you haven’t made more of the abilities you were born with.

The shame may penetrate to deeper levels.  You may feel ashamed of your thoughts, desires, and predilections. Likewise, you may feel the only way you can be accepted is by putting on a mask. In addition, you may feel that the real you is fundamentally flawed.

Why Shame is Toxic

Such shame is toxic.  It is also traumatic.  It raises your stress hormone levels and eventually corrodes your memory and executive functions.  While your fifth grade school teacher may have planted the roots of that shame, you are now the one who intensifies it.  You imagine harsh judges everywhere, as if the world were swarming with strict fifth grade school teachers.  You project the harsh judgments you are making of yourself out onto everyone you meet.  Soon the world becomes like a huge set of judgmental eyes, looming down on you, and your only option is to hide.

With a therapist, a friend, a spouse—with someone, because it is all but impossible to do this alone—you need to talk through or “confess” what you take to be your sins.  As you do this, you will discover that they are not nearly as bad in the eyes of others as they are in your eyes.  It is all right that you have messes.  People enjoy your unpredictable remarks, and those who don’t can look elsewhere for friends.  It is all right that you are late.  Sure, it would be good to try to be on time, but as long as people know you are not just blowing them off, they can forgive lateness.  If they can’t, you don’t need them as friends, either.  How boring it would be if everyone were “normal.”  Where would Monty Python or Mel Brooks have come from?  Remember, what is strange today becomes truth or art tomorrow.

Not only does shame hurt, it also is the chief cause of a huge problem in adults who have ADHD. Shame contributes to their inability to feel good about their achievements.  Consequently, it is common for ADHD adults to be all but impervious to positive remarks.  Whatever they have legitimately achieved they feel must have been done by someone else, or by accident.

Why Adults with ADHD Can’t Enjoy Their Success

One of the main reasons adults with ADHD can’t take pleasure in their own successes and creations is, simply, shame.

  • First, they feel too ashamed to feel good.
  • Then they feel too defective to feel nourished.
  • Likewise, they feel it is practically immoral to feel proud of themselves.

Healthy pride is such an alien emotion that they have to look back into the dim recesses of their childhoods. That’s because it’s the last time they felt proud of themselves, if they can find an instance even then.

Shame prevents you from allowing your best self to emerge.  Shame gets in the way of every forward step you try to take.

  • You call a business and instead of asking to speak to the president or person in charge, you figure you’re too small potatoes for them, so you speak to an underling who can do nothing for you.
  • Likewise, you apply for a job, but instead of making a strong case for what you can do for the company, you present a self-effacing persona that is charming, but uninspiring.
  • When you go shopping for clothes, you pick outfits that allow you to recede into the background as much as possible.
  • You shake hands, but have trouble making strong eye contact.
  • Similarly, you want to ask a question at a lecture, but fear that your question is a stupid one.
  • Even when you have a bright idea, you don’t do anything with it because you figure it must not be that good if you thought of it.
  • You do all the work on a project, then don’t speak up when someone else gets credit for what you’ve done.
  • Finally, when someone doesn’t call you back, you assume it was because they found you lacking in some way.  And on, and on.

How to Override Your Feelings of Shame

Try as best you can to override your feelings of shame.  When you shake hands, make eye contact and give a strong handshake, even if you feel second-rate.  Furthermore, when someone doesn’t call you back, assume they’re simply too busy. Then give them a call.  If, indeed, they do find you lacking and reject you, don’t internalize their judgment.  Look elsewhere.  You don’t want someone who rejects you, anyway.  And remember, rejection in one place is just the first step on the way to acceptance somewhere else. That is, of course, unless you let that first rejection stop you.

It is heartbreaking to watch an adult contribute wonderfully to the world, only to feel every day as if she hadn’t.  Likewise, it is painful to watch an adult work hard and do much good, only to feel as if someone else had done it.

To allow the adult who has ADHD to take deserved pleasure and pride in what he has done, he needs to detoxify the shame that has plagued him for years.

How to Detoxify Your Shame

To detoxify your shame, you need to engage in a deliberate, prolonged process.  It will take some time.  But it can and should be done.  As long as you feel intense shame, you will never feel the kind of joy in life that you have every right to feel.  You will stay stuck in a painful place. Instead, with someone else’s help, you can work toward accepting and enjoying your true self.

If you struggle with this issue, you should try to get rid of the people in your life who disapprove of you or don’t like or love you for who you are.  It’s  important to get rid of or avoid the people who are overly critical of you rather than accepting of you.  So get rid of the harsh fifth grade school teachers in your life—and within yourself.

Getting rid of that which is within you will be a lot easier if you get rid of the ones who surround you.  Your shame has allowed them to stay.  You have felt that’s what you need—daily reprimands, daily belittlements, daily control.  But that’s the opposite of what you need.  It’s your shame that’s let those people into your life.  Your determination not to be ruled by shame any longer will send them away.

What You Need

  • Acceptance
  • People who see the best in you and,
  • want to help you develop that.

As you surround yourself more and more with people who see more good in you than you see in yourself, then you will start to feel less afraid and less ashamed. As a result, you will dare to feel proud, a little bit at a time.

 Check back tomorrow to learn about Pessimism and Negativity.

If the fear of feedback prevents you from advancing in your career and in your relationships, read this blog post on Fear of Feedback.


ADHD and S.P.I.N. Cycle

HOW TO AVOID THE S.P.I.N. CYCLE OF ADHD: I often compare the ADHD mind to Niagara Falls, both wonders of gargantuan movement and energy.  The trick to making use of the energy in Niagara Falls, and to doing well in life with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD,) is building a hydroelectric plant.  You need to hook the energy up to some contraption that can turn it into a useful product.

Whoever makes your diagnosis could say to you what might have been said to someone who lived next to Niagara Falls all her life but never understood how to deal best with a waterfall.  “This waterfall is an insurmountable obstacle if your goal is to paddle.  But, if you will change your plan, I can show you how you can turn this waterfall into something wonderful.  This waterfall can generate enough energy to light up millions of homes.  People will pay you for all that electricity.  You just need to throw away your paddle and build a hydroelectric plant.”

When treatment begins, you are on your way to building that plant.

Treating ADHD may seem as difficult as building a hydroelectric plant—but it can be just as successful.  You need to know some of the major pitfalls.

After an initial burst of improvement at the beginning of treatment of ADHD, there is usually a leveling off.  This may be followed by long, frustrating periods during which the person with ADHD—or the entire family—feels stuck. It’s as if they are simply spinning their wheels instead of making the kind of progress they should be making.  S.P.I.N. happens in people of all ages, but it is especially a problem in older adolescents and adults.  With children, the natural forces of development, coupled with the influence of parents and school, usually prevail and the child progresses.

However, when the diagnosis is not made until late adolescence or adulthood, prolonged periods of going nowhere can stultify treatment.  As one woman wrote to me, “I know you know this already, but there are some people who stubbornly resist help, who are caught in patterns too deeply rooted in the subconscious to be freed from.  Sometimes I wonder if I am one of those.  So don’t bet your money on this horse.  Remember, you can’t save everyone, kid.” I refer to these periods of being stuck “spinning,” based on an acronym, S.P.I.N.

The term sums up the usual causes of getting stuck:

  • “S” stands for Shame.
  • “P” stands for Pessimism and Negativity.
  • “I” stands for Isolation.
  • “N” stands for No Creative, Productive Outlet.

Getting unstuck often depends on reversing the influence of some or all of the components of S.P.I.N.  You can do this with a therapist, a coach, a spouse, a support group, a friend, a pastor, a relative, or all of the above.

Check back tomorrow for suggestions on how to handle the SHAME associated with ADHD.

If you think you may have ADHD, learn about getting a diagnosis here.

Watch Dr. Hallowell’s YouTube video on The Negative and Positive Traits of ADHD


ADHD – Changing the Shame and Fear

The greatest learning disorder of all is fear.

Getting rid of shame and fear are key!!  Kids, and this includes kids with ADHD, Dyslexia or any Learning Disorder, need to feel emotionally safe in the classroom and at home.  My own childhood experience with difficulty reading shows how a supportive environment can illuminate a child’s life. As a first-grader, I had a great deal of trouble learning to read. I simply couldn’t decode words on a page. At that time, before we knew much about ADHD and dyslexia (I have both), poor readers got a simple diagnosis: They were “stupid.” The treatment plan was to “try harder.”

Fortunately, my first-grade teacher was a wise woman. Mrs. Eldredge didn’t know why I could not read, but she did know what to do about it. At each reading period, she would come over and wrap her arm around me. That simple sign of encouragement was tremendously reassuring. With her beside me, I knew none of my classmates would dare make fun of me. It’s incredible that a seven-year-old would sit there, day in and day out, and demonstrate his incompetence. But I did. Such was the power of Mrs. Eldredge’s arm.

By the end of the year, I wasn’t much better at reading. But, I was the most enthusiastic reader in the class. (Dr. Hallowell shares his memories about Mrs. Eldredge’s arm in this YOUTUBE video.)

So how do we help our children get rid of the shame and fear of ADHD?

First, there is no substitute for a parent understanding the child’s mind and conveying that over and over again to teachers! A child needs an advocate after a diagnosis of ADHD and too often testing results get “filed away”.

Spend time talking with your child about his or her classroom and social experiences to learn what is going on in the classroom and at school. Family dinners are a great time of the day to discuss what’s going on at school and how your child feels.

Become a partner with your child’s teacher. Don’t go in with a set of things you “want” from the teacher. Go in with the goal of creating a relationship that will support your child. Consider helping out in class. Treat your child’s teacher as the professional he or she is.

Consider talking with your teacher about having a home to school notebook for quick comments on daily basis and easy communications.

Finally, remember that you are not alone! There is a tremendous community to support and help you. A few places to look, depending on your needs:

The Hallowell Centers in Boston MetroWest, NYC, SF and Seattle.

Understood. org provides expert advice available for all parents of children with learning and attention issues – an incredible resource that is entirely free of cost.

Calm and Connected: Parenting Kids with ADHD, 7-Session Parent Coaching Workshop Series led by ADHD Parent Coach, Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ACAC.

ADHD for Teachers

Learn more about managing ADHD and other forms of distraction, by listening to my weekly podcast series, DISTRACTION!

More ADHD Resources here.