The ADD Label

A Three-Step Action Plan to Achieve a Goal
We have heard of twelve-step, seven-step, and even five-step action plans. It's time to step up with the three-step plan. I want your child to step faster than others. My mother used to say, "Inspiration without perspiration makes you a fan, not a player." So I'm putting your child to work so he can get in the game too.

Step One: Identify a Goal
Labeling usually occurs when we confront a challenge en route to a goal. The operative word is a goal--not many goals or all the goals for your child's whole life. For this exercise, the entire family must participate. Your child with ADD shouldn't be made to feel like the family project. If everyone participates, then everyone can gain empathy for the demands of the exercise. More important, participation shows that this is as much about family unity as it is about the ADD child.

Call a family a meeting to define one goal for this exercise. Some examples:

  • Read a book, one chapter per day. (This helps extend attention span and develop good study habits.)
  • Memorize a poem, book passage, speech in a play, or short story. (This helps develop memory skills.)
  • Learn to sing a song with all the verses. (Believe it or not, this can help stimulate the brain as well as induce healthy breathing patterns.)
  • Dig a ditch or take a ten-mile hike. (The physical act of performing even a monotonous task for an extended time stimulates the brain to pace itself.)
Step Two: Identify Inner Dialogue That Limits Your Ability To Pursue Goals
As Yoda might say: This is inner homework, Jedi trainee.

Your child might fight it, but it is important to show him how his inner thoughts can be reprogrammed for more positive results. After you have identified the limiting inner dialogue, write down some healthy alternatives. Talk to your child about the importance of finding positive options both for his inner dialogue and for his actions.

What follows is an example from the family workbook of one of my patients, named Bobby, containing family members' thoughts on a goal--digging a ditch in the backyard:

Thoughts Alternative Healthy Thoughts

Bobby's Thoughts: This is dumb. I am just scared of doing something else stupid, but this might help me improve my abilities to focus on a task.
Father's Thoughts: I don't want to dig another ditch. I did enough of that in the army. This might help my relationship with Bobby.
Mother's Thoughts: This is his problem, not mine. I am kind of proud of what I have done, and it does help the garden.
Younger Sister's Thoughts: Not another thing to do for my big brother. I can see that my family would help if I needed it. I like my family better.


From The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now by Frank Lawlis, M.D. Copyright 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here or on the book cover. Get a 15% discount with the coupon code FENPARENT.

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