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November 2008

Raising Motivated, Positive, Capable Kids
Q & A With Edward Hallowell, M.D.

By Lynne Ticknor, M.A.

If you seek new ways to avoid yelling, nagging, bribing and punishing your children, you have to check out Dr. Edward Hallowell’s practical and proven approaches to raising capable kids. Hallowell is a parenting expert, psychiatrist and author of 14 books including The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness and Driven to Distraction. I recently had a chance to reread Dr. Hallowell’s books and further explore his views on parenting.

Q: Why does parenting seem so much more difficult than it was for our parents?
A: “There are several reasons.  First, we take it more seriously.  Our parents loved us, but they didn’t delve deeply into parenting.  They sort of let the community raise us and let us raise ourselves.  In addition, there was a greater sense of community a generation or two ago.  The world was not as fast, complicated and at-you as it is today.  Finally, we take on more than our parents did, and we live in a world that seems less secure.”
Q: You emphasize the importance of creating a "connected" atmosphere.  What do you mean by that?
A: “Children need to be connected to all sorts of things. They need to feel connected to family, friends, neighbors, school, nature, pets, activities, the past, organizations and ideals. They also need a spiritual connection and connection to self.”
Q: Parents are bombarded with parenting advice. How do parents know what advice is best?

A: “Pick a few people you know well and trust.  Listen to them.  Pick one or two experts and read their books.  Be open to all suggestions, but trust your own instincts. At the same time, be humble and aware that sometimes your instincts lead you astray.”
Q: Your books talk about how much parents push children. How can parents gauge their involvement in children's lives?
A: “If no one is having any fun, that's a good indicator something is amiss.”
Q: In your best selling book, Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood Through Adulthood, you describe ADD as a style of living instead of a diagnosis.Why?
A: “I see ADD as a trait, not a disorder.  If it is managed properly, it can be a great asset in life.”
Q: What are some of your tips on ways that parents can positively structure life for children with ADD?

A: “First, love them for who they are. Next, develop a routine so they get enough sleep, exercise and positive human contact. Next, set up reminders and other tricks for getting organized.”

Q: As you are raising your own children, what’s the one thing you keep uppermost in your mind for creating a positive family life?

A: “Above all else, enjoy your children.  If you do that, it is all but certain you are doing it right.”

Join the Parent Encouragement Program (PEP) and Edward Hallowell, M.D., for his talk, Five Keys to Raising Motivated, Positive, Capable Kids, on November 19, 7:30-9:30 p.m., at the Bullis School in Potomac. Hallowell will also present a workshop, Driven to Distraction: Unwrapping the Gifts of the ADD Mind, on November 20, 9:30-11:30 a.m., at the Temple Emanuel in Kensington. Contact PEP for tickets. 301-929-8824.