Book Review: Parenting Your Child with ADHD: A No-Nonsense Guide for Nurturing Self-Reliance and Cooperation, by Craig Wiener, EdD

I have recently read this book, and I think it would be extremely helpful for parents, teachers, and counselors who work with children in this area.

Here are some quotes:

“…ADHD [is] something that your child does rather than something that she has.”

“The first thing to realize is that while you and other adults see your child’s ADHD behavior as a problem to overcome, for your child, ADHD behavior holds solutions to the difficulties that he faces on a daily basis. When your child encounters adversity, ADHD behavior somehow mitigates the situation. When you identify what gives his ADHD behavior its staying power, you will have gained valuable insight into why such behavior repeats so frequently. You will also be taking a giant step forward in knowing how to eliminate it.”

“Groups are breeding grounds for ADHD behavior, because children often have problems accommodating when they must function in groups. In group settings, individuals are typically less important than the group as a whole, so they may feel neglected in comparison to one-on-one interactions, in which they have more influence and importance. It comes as no surprise, then, that one-on-one interaction results in less ADHD behavior in comparison to when a child is part of a group. This is why your child might have been doing okay before he started preschool or kindergarten.”

“When your child feels neglected or denied in a group, ADHD behavior can be quite effective in getting people to shift their attention back to him.”

“Your child’s ADHD behavior may have any of the following beneficial effects: it may garner attention for her, it may get others to make accommodations for her, it may help her avoid certain situations, it may help her acquire something she wants, and it may antagonize others for doing things she does not like. Any one of the five “A”s can increase the frequency of ADHD behavior. Sometimes these reinforcements even work in combination to drive particular behaviors, strengthening them that much more.”

“ADHD behavior generally remits as soon as the child hears the word “yes.” Loved ones will frequently offer relief when hearing a child complain or create problems. This can occur when your child overreacts, shows frustration, becomes self-critical, or behaves in any number of ways that indicate distress. When a child is diagnosed with ADHD and considered impaired, the tendency is for the adults in her life to lower their expectations and offer support.”

“The accommodated child will often ask questions about matters that she can easily resolve on her own. She enjoys the fact that you drop everything to address her concerns. Playing dumb or foolish can increase assistance because it’s difficult to impose requirements, hold her accountable, or ask her to contribute when you have doubts about her competence. Her staying ineffectual can keep you preoccupied with her, and it becomes your responsibility to solve her trials and tribulations. Often she will complain, ‘Why didn’t you remind me?’ when you failed to run interference for her. The side effect when you and others ‘pick up the slack’ is that she remains unskilled.”

“If your child frequently sabotages your shopping, shop for essentials and the items you want first. Buy what she likes at the end. If she wants you to buy snacks, for example, say, ‘We can get the snacks before we leave, if we’re still interested in shopping.’ Even if this makes your shopping trip less efficient (e.g., instead of working through the aisles in order, you pass the snack aisle at first and return to it later), her behavior may improve.”

“Most ADHD interventions recommend that schools adjust to the needs of the child with ADHD. If the school does not make the recommended changes, parents are encouraged to pressure administrators until the adjustments occur. However, insisting that the school make all the adjustments comes with an important risk: your child may not learn to adapt to others’ ways and adjust to the world the way it is.

As is evident from the above quotations, Craig does not conceptualize ADHD as an illness.  Rather, he presents these kinds of behaviors as ways in which the child copes with difficulties that he or she might be experiencing for various reasons.

The book is written in plain, jargon-free English, and is filled with down-to-earth, practical advice, suggestions, and detailed illustrations.  Craig encourages parents to scrutinize their own actions and perspectives, not from a blaming perspective, but rather to explore ways in which the parent-child interactions might be reinforcing the very behaviors that are causing concern.

Craig’s suggestions and examples are presented thoughtfully, and without patronization, and I think most parents, even those whose children have never been labeled ADHD, will be able to see something of themselves in the pages.

I, and I suspect most people who have worked in this field, have heard many parents say:  I’m at the end of my rope.  I don’t know what I can do with this child (or words to that effect).  Well here’s something that any parent can do:  get a copy of this book; read it; and give the suggestions a try.

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Disclosure:  I have no financial links to this book or to any books/materials that I endorse on this website

  • Harry hobbes

    Phil intentionally ignores the massive body of evidence which proves beyond any doubt that ADHD is a disorder which afflicts many in childhood and even into adulthood. A “yes” often reduces the ADHD behavior? It is hard to imagine a more ridiculous bunch of garbage you guys create to try to deny the perfectly obvious. Try dropping the hyperactivity emphasis. Inattention is a trait. Do we fail to concentrate because we want attention?

    Well, they have a point. Adults are just faking the symptoms to get drugs. Thanks Phil. You are filled with compassion and understanding.

  • Rob Bishop

    Neuroplasticity studies reveal we can alter how our brains function (attention, anxiety, anger, depression) without drugs…”Inattention is a trait”… Are you claiming people are born with an unchangeable ability to focus? There’s a large amount of evidence humans have the ability to significantly alter their brain functioning without drugs.

  • all too easy

    “The first thing to realize is that while you and other adults see your child’s ADHD behavior as a problem to overcome, for your child, ADHD behavior holds solutions to the difficulties that he faces on a daily basis”

    If you had the slightest idea what you are talking about, you would be happy to back up your silly opinions with scientific data. You won’t because you can’t. You have a fine imagination, but we are talking about human beings, not play things. You keep publishing the same unproven, untested dogma that your team has pushed for years. No one relies upon your suggestions because they don’t work. As long as you deny reality, your ideas will remain useless.

    People aren’t standing up and applauding your terrific, innovative ideas, not people with ADHD. No one (except the groupies who worship Whitaker as the Second Coming) apply your “solutions” with their ADHD kids. They have no bearing on who they are and what they experience. Some may be helped, but not ADHDers. That’s what you just don’t get and until you see the light, your best advice will stink.

    Ed, you are not to blame. Your team appears to have deficit in comprehension. You all say the exact same things repeatedly and get nowhere. If you fellas offered some tips we found helpful, you could market your products to a much wider audience. Preaching to the choir limits your potential income, big time. You all sell your books back and forth to each other and can’t figure out why you’re broke all the time. Some folks are color blind. Some can’t curl their tongues. Some are tone deaf. What ADHDers considered to be your willful disregard of the obvious is most likely a genetic predisposition. We apologize to you. We’ve been harsh. You guys don’t mean to be boobs. You can’t help it. Let’s find a behavior mod program just for your type.

    “If your child frequently sabotages your shopping, shop for essentials and the items you want first. Buy what she likes at the end. If she wants you to buy snacks, for example, say, ‘We can get the snacks before we leave, if we’re still interested in shopping.’” No. No patronizing here. You are right Phil.
    Stay focused on the “illness” of hyperactivity in kids (as a ploy) and in the mean time, adults function poorly if at all because they are so easily distracted with no hope things will ever get better.

  • all too easy

    “Your child’s ADHD behavior may have any of the following beneficial effects: it may garner attention for her, it may get others to make accommodations for her, it may help her avoid certain situations, it may help her acquire something she wants, and it may antagonize others…”
    You assume the child has control over her behavior. Wrong. Big, fundamental error. One you keep making. You miss the essence, in fact the entire problem, because you misinterpret the very nature of ADHD. Your premise is incorrect and everything you believe based on that “foundation” of quicksand is way, way off. No matter how well you construct your structure, it cannot stand.
    Also, redirect your focus from children, exclusively, to those impacted by this monster from every age group. Analyzing ADHD as it pertains to kids alone eliminates a sizable portion of the body of the afflicted. Stop referring to ADHD as a disease and an illness. Its official label defines the problem adequately.
    Don’t fear the adults who can speak for themselves and tell their truth. All of us are pursuing the truth above everything. Even as Dr. Saul believes that millions of us from all age groups cannot function in life without treatment, as adults we are equipped and more than qualified to tackle any and all arguments to the contrary. Kids do not articulate their experiences as powerfully as adults. If you are really serious, if you really want to attempt to refute ADHD, direct your efforts to those who know it inside and out from personal experience and from the literature and the most up to date collection of research from the best and brightest. We welcome you. You are the best resource we have to dispel the silly nonsense floating around which may cause the needy to hesitate to get medical help.
    Again, remember Dr. Saul’s position. Don’t take our word for it. The destruction ADHD causes impacts millions and we are helpless to affect change without medical intervention.

  • Rob Walter

    Thankyou Phil for your review of Parenting Your Child
    with ADHD by Craig Wiener, EdD “…ADHD [is] something that your child does rather than something that she has.” Aldous Huxley “all great truths begin as
    heresy”. The intuitive mind makes the difficult simple, the rational reasoning
    mind the opposite. Albert Einstein understood this. Elon Musk understands this,
    he intuitively “— boil(s) things down to their fundamental truths and reason(s)
    up from there”. Quantum physics, the science of boiling things down to the
    fundamental truths. The wonderful technological marvels we enjoy today has resulted from intuitive thinking and understanding truths. However when it comes to understanding ourselves we can be easily bamboozled by the beliefs and ideas of those who wish to exploit our ignorance for power and profit.

    From your review, Craig Wiener’s intuitive book reveals some
    fundamental truths. They not only apply to parents and their children but also
    to staff, workers, patients and residents in mental health and disability
    sectors and all our relationships in the wider community. The book may also
    give some insight into the opposite end of the spectrum to autism. The North
    American Indians and Australian Aborigines understood this aeons ago. Thanks
    again for your wonderful work. Rob

  • Phil_Hickey


    And thank you for your encouragement and support.

  • all too easy

    Why would Phil endorse Dr. Richard Saul when he states uncategorically that millions are unable to function without medical intervention.

    In his book, ADHD doesn’t exist, he devotes a chapter to a condition he calls “neurochemical distractibility/impulsivity”, which is not a formal diagnosis and is not the same as ADHD, (but looks a whole lot like ADHD) and recommends stimulants for it.
    In reality, Dr. Saul is a bit of a knucklehead. Even as he rules out 20 other problems that may look like ADHD, thus the misnomer for the title of his book, in doing so he merely does what the DSM insists must be done to make a proper diagnosis. Everything else which may cause some of the symptoms of ADHD must be eliminated first, before the diagnosis of ADHD can be made.
    Neurochemical distractibility/impulsivity is ADHD. It is a neurochemical disorder that causes distractibility and impulsivity that responds very well in most cases to stimulant therapy.

  • Harry hobbes

    What Ed is saying is that kids who become labeled with ADHD have a unique capacity for harrassing others and getting away with it, a trick they learn which by definition means they are ADHD. All kids do these kinds of things and there is not one scientific objective test that proves they are prone to such common behaviors.

  • all too easy

    From ADHD Voices
    The Voices Project
    we learn,

    “Many are concerned that Ritalin and similar drugs, which aid concentration in those with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are chemical straightjackets that prevent children from taking full responsibility for themselves.

    But Dr Ilina Singh of King’s College London said she and colleagues found no evidence this was the case, after interviewing scores of children on the drug.

    Instead she found children commonly thought it benefited them, by helping clear their heads to make the right decision. It did not “make the decision for them”, she insisted.

    via Ritalin ‘doesn’t turn ADHD children into robots’ – Telegraph.

    One perspective that is often AWOL from stories about neurobiological conditions is the view from those who have the condition. I’ve called before for including autistic voices in articles about autism, and that applies for ADHD, as well. That’s why I was glad to see this report from Ilina Singh, a bioethicist at King’s College London, and colleagues relaying what children with ADHD have to say about it and about the medications they take for it. The report [very large PDF], which has what I can only describe as a festive format, is not peer reviewed but does detail the inner lives of 151 UK and US children with ADHD.

    I learned about the ADHD Voices project when I contacted Singh about a New York Times article describing a doctor who doesn’t think ADHD exists but who prescribes ADHD medications on the grounds of leveling the academic playing field for low-income children. In her response, Singh alerted me to the upcoming report, funded in part by the Wellcome Trust. She also had this to say about using ADHD medications in children without the condition with the goal of boosting academic performance, a comment that the report echoes:

    It’s a bad idea to use stimulants as a quick-fix educational solution anywhere, but especially in under-resourced settings. Evidence suggests (MTA Study) that stimulants don’t work to improve academic performance and they stop working over time. So pragmatically this is a bad strategy. It also leaves the social problems untouched – and I don’t accept the idea that we should give up trying to tackle those problems – especially because the environment is an integral component of a child’s behavioral and emotional health.

    According to the ADHD Voices report, children with ADHD have three main concerns about their ADHD:

    They want to be able to think before they act.

    They want someone they can talk to about ADHD.

    They wonder if they will be able to stop take ADHD medications some day.

    These children often found themselves with no one to talk to about their ADHD and felt lost among educators and parents whose tactics in addressing ADHD behaviors were, let’s say, less than ideal. Even the physicians prescribing their medications spent little time discussing with them the hows and whys of the condition or the treatment. As the Telegraph article notes, doctor face-time was instead devoted to side effect checks and weigh-ins. One child, when asked what ADHD stands for, said that “ADHD is kind of like a cancer disease, but you’re not going to die from it.”

    Finally, the Telegraph quotes Singh as saying,

    Children value the medication because it puts them in a place where they can make good moral decisions, which is exactly what the ethicists are worried about.

    This is the take-home message of the report: Children with ADHD viewed their medications as useful tools to help them with their behaviors, not as controlling drugs that hijacked their minds.”

    From: Ritalin ‘Doesn’t Turn ADHD Children Into Robots’
    Emily Willingham Contributor
    The brain is my beat.


  • Rob Bishop

    For me, meth was highly effective in treating my depression.
    I find a lack of logic in the reasoning above.

  • all too easy

    What do you geniuses recommend for the compliant, well behaved child who does not follow along? Hmm? Tell us please, or if you prefer, belabor the challenges of the fidgety kid and never address the problems of inattentiveness. Funny. You dopes just don’t get it.

    But, you make powerful arguments.I have to admit it. I mean, what could possibly go wrong with merely 100,000,000,000 physical connections in the most sophisticated, complex, powerful, intelligent, thinking, 3 pounds of jel-like mass in the universe?

  • all too easy

    I can’t think of anything more exhilarating than to spend time discussing Rob Bishop’s beliefs on everything.

  • Rob Bishop

    Negativity is all too easy.

  • all too easy

    Good answer, Phil. There is no reason to object to Saul’s position that millions are unable to manage their lives w/o medication.

  • all too easy

    Not a shred of scientific evidence backs up what Ed teaches. Apply the same standards to antis ideas that they use to condemn psychiatry and they got zero. Hypocrites

  • all too easy

    Yep. People are born with ADHD. The genetic link is undeniable, unless you are brainwashed.

    Neuroplasticity enables a person to heal her ADHD? Wouldn’t that be nice? Neuroplasticity is the answer for a disease that doesn’t exist, never did, never will; it is the product of a conspiracy to hook children on addictive drugs for life brought to you by big pharma and all psychiatrists. All psychiatrists means everyone of them. They need to be rounded up immediately and imprisoned.

    Mental illness doesn’t exist, either. This Stevie Wonder dude is quite the genius. Ask his two sons.

  • all too easy

    Neuroplasticity studies prove we can alter our brains to correct ADHD. Good, Steve. Nice one. What an argument to solve the attentional issues that don’t exist.

  • Shannon

    are you nuts? The take-home message should be two-fold: The kids wonder when they can stop taking the drugs (i.e. they want to stop at some point – they want to feel competent without taking meds); and Dr. Singh herself notes that the drugs stop working at some point – i.e. these kids are in any case going to find themselves once again struggling when the drugs just don’t deliver the goods anymore – and what are they going to do then?
    Drugs may be very nice as a short-term crutch, but long-term? Answers?

  • all too easy

    Switch meds. Not rocket science.

  • all too easy

    Effects of low-dose methylphenidate (MPH) on extracellular levels of NE and DA within and outside the PFC. (a) NE levels within the PFC and the medial septal area (MSA). (b) DA levels within the PFC and nucleus accumbens (ACC). In each panel, the mean (SEM) NE or DA levels within 16-min samples collected before (negative numbers) and following (positive numbers) injection of vehicle or 0.5 mg/kg (i.p.) MPH are displayed. Values are expressed as a percentage of baseline (calculated as the average of four pre-infusion samples). Low-dose MPH produces substantially larger increases in NE and DA within the PFC relative to the MSA and Acc, respectively. At this dose, but not 0.25 mg/kg, MPH produces a larger increase in PFC NE levels relative to PFC DA. Similar preferential actions of MPH on PFC catecholamines were observed with oral administration (2.0 mg/kg). * P<0.05 compared to vehicle-treated animals. Data from Berridge et al (2006).

    Stimulants such as methylphenidate and amphetamine are currently the most common treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). For years, it was assumed that stimulants had paradoxical calming effects in ADHD patients, whereas stimulating 'normal' individuals and producing locomotor activation in rats. It is now known that low doses of stimulants focus attention and improve executive function in both normal and ADHD subjects. Furthermore, the seminal work of Kuczenski and Segal showed that low, oral doses of methylphenidate reduce locomotor activity in rats as well. Berridge et al have now shown that these low doses produce marked increases in norepinephrine and dopamine release in the prefrontal cortex, whereas having only subtle effects on subcortical catecholamine release. ihe prefrontal cortex regulates behavior and attention using representational knowledge, and imaging and neuropsychological studies have shown that the prefrontal cortex is weaker in subjects with ADHD. This cortical area is very sensitive to levels of catecholamines: moderate levels engage postsynaptic 2A-adrenoceptors and D1 receptors and improve prefrontal regulation of behavior and attention, while high levels impair prefrontal function via 1-adrenoceptors and excessive D1 receptor stimulation. Administering low doses of methylphenidate to rats improves the working memory and attentional functions of the prefrontal cortex, while high doses impair working memory and produce a perseverative pattern of errors similar to that seen in patients. The low dose improvement is hiocked by either an 2-adrenoceptor or Dl receptor antagonist, suggesting that both norepinephrine and dopamine contribute to the beneficial actions of stimulant medications.

  • all too easy

    “Drugs may be very nice…” How are they very nice, Stevie? What do they do? Mechanism of action? What is very nice about flooding a child’s brain with addictive, dangerous, neurotoxins especially when ADHD is a fraudulent diagnosis?

    “they want to feel competent without taking meds…” Who doesn’t? I’d like my body to fight off cancer without medical intervention.

  • Rob Bishop

    From a young age, humans manipulate each other, beginning with a child’s cry. We put a lot of effort into manipulating others. It’s a highly adaptive trait. The slacker employee who kisses the ass of the boss to gain their favor (“polishing the apple” as we call it) is manipulating. How interesting these childhood behaviors might be functional effective strategies to reduce expectations and get what they want. Kids use many strategies to manipulate. In our evolutionary history, for millions of years, our ancestors young were not forced to socialize in large groups… so that we might see unique effects with schooling really is interesting. Childhood schooling is huge change from the small groups that primates are used to growing up in.

  • Phil_Hickey


    This is an interesting perspective. I heard someone say once that if you’re not training your children, they are training you.

    Best wishes.

  • all too easy

    I see edy’s book was a big hit. Sold 13 copies.

  • Sarah

    I’m curious, why do you continue to lurk within the comments section, only to post negative comments? Are you a psychiatrist, or do you have an affiliation with a pharamceutical company?

  • doppelganger


  • all too easy

    Curiosity killed the cat. I’m curious, why do you care, Sarah? LOL! Go bother someone on your side, someone filled with self-pity and volcanoes of fury and rage.

    Yes, I’m a psychiatrist. And another yes. I am the CEO of the most profitable pharmaceutical company in the world. All the people I hire to develop new drugs to treat new diseases I invent get vast sums of money, under the table. They assist me in creating fictitious illnesses and the drugs that cause them to manifest the very symptoms they pretend to address. But, don’t tell a soul. I’ll deny it.

    So who are you? A writer of fiction looking for assurance that your ridiculous theories could somehow be taken seriously? Some Scientology guru forbidding your puppets from finding the medical help they need? A true L. Ron Hubbard fan? He was quite the catch. Let’s see the scientific peer reviewed studies your side claims to support your wacko beliefs. Go right ahead and quote the results scientists discovered through their research. While your at it, quote some of the statements from your hero, Big Ron. Include how much money your buddy Baughman made pushing his books on the naive and oppressed and charging his clients to appear in court as an expert idiot, or Pretty Pete Breggin. He is quite the scholarly proponent of making money for selling bull crap. Or Wittie! Yes, quote some Wittie. At least he doesn’t try to hide his B.S., selling snake oil in the guise of science.

    Get lost Sarah. I know who you are. You are wasting your time, honey. Take paladapus and the mouth, little robbie stevie, with you. I love how you hang on my every word. I’ve always known I am a force to be reckoned with, but I never realized how mesmerizing I am until you, girlfriend, showed up.