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How to raise your ADD child without medication

Updated on May 6, 2013

The History

I have adult ADD. I didn’t realize this for most of my adult life but, one benefit of pursuing studies in Psychology is that you can often self-diagnose certain ‘conditions’. This self-diagnosis caused me to reflect on my childhood and certain aspects of my social and emotional development. What stood out to me was that even though I was always bright and enjoyed learning, I was not a very good student at the secondary level. I was mostly bored and disinterested, did little or no homework and definitely did not study. I also did not have any supervision of my academic responsibilities and so ‘did my own thing’.

I was probably a source of frustration for most of my teachers and I really didn’t understand why I couldn’t be what was expected of me. I actually didn’t start to do well in school until I started teaching myself. It is now apparent to me that I was not benefiting from the teaching styles that were traditionally used at that time.

Since then, I have taught at the secondary and tertiary level for several years, always focused on how to keep my students interested. I think I succeeded… and then I had my daughter. It’s not that my son doesn’t have a bit of an attention problem…just not significant. My daughter – like my husband – is a ‘full blown, text book variety’ ADD case! Thank goodness I had a few years of adjusting to my husband before I was ‘presented with’ my daughter!

The Challenge

Now, my daughter is precious, brilliant and charming. Her attention span lasts for about one minute at a time – unless the topic is fashion (that’s all me!). If I say, “Sweetie, please close that door”, she will answer “OK mommy”, then get up to do it and have no idea why she got up. If we’re talking about one topic, midstream – with no warning - she will jump into a brand new topic, with no recollection of what we were talking about before (that’s my husband!). At school, she becomes the best friend of everybody she sits beside because she’s ALWAYS talking. She quickly completes the assignment (IF she heard the teacher) and then starts talking! Presently, at grade 10 she is just understanding the concept studying and preparation. I am writing this, not because I have accomplished much, but because I have been able to enjoy parenting my daughter despite the frustration of her limited attention.

The Strategy

  • Discipline is the goal for her and this must be established through routine. I have to instill and try to maintain that routine, and it is hard – but possible.
  • She needs to learn how to become and remain focused on her goals. It is important that she knows what she wants and why. She also needs help to see the ‘big picture’ and to connect her present activities to where she wants to go.
  • She needs a loving, strong support system of friends with similar goals and their own discipline and focus, who will serve as motivators for her.
  • She needs to be able to do what she loves and have the experience of working hard at something and excelling at it. This sense of reward and fulfillment is infectious and will eventually affect the other areas of her life.
  • She must have consequences for good and bad, consistently. Not punishment, just an understanding that that action requires this consequence and the opportunity to learn from the experience.
  • She needs unconditional love and acceptance – flaws and all. She must have a healthy sense of her worth to keep moving forward with optimism.

I have watched progress happen, slowly but surely. I know that it is possible that her personal achievements might be delayed because of her distracted, unfocused outlook. But that’s okay if she feels secure and supported on her journey. My priority is to have a child who knows who she is, and how to be the best person that she can be. I have put her in the Lord’s hands!


The text on this page, unless otherwise indicated, is owned by happiness coach (karen mcgibbon) who hereby asserts her copyright on the material. Permission must be granted by the author in writing prior to copy or republish this article in print or online. Thank you.

© karen mcgibbon


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