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5 Ways to Help Children Diagnosed with ADHD

Author and developmental pediatrician, Dr. Raun D. Melmed (founder and director of the Melmed Center in Arizona), focuses his work on children diagnosed with autism and ADHD. In his new book Marvin’s Monster Diary: ADHD Attacks! (But I Rock It, Big Time) Dr. Melmed combines funny illustrations and original techniques to show readers how one little monster named Marvin literally rocks his ADHD at his school’s Minor Monster Music Fest.  

This middle-grade novel includes a special section for adults. Below is an excerpt from the text that answers the question, “What can adults do to help children diagnosed with ADHD?”

Educational accommodations can help with school performance, and behavioral strategies can effectively manage behavior at home. In certain circumstances, medication might be considered. Dietary interventions can be helpful, the most important one being the need for a good breakfast, high in protein. A good night’s rest is imperative.

Most children do better with routines. Keeping schedules for daily activities such as meals, homework, sports, and even leisure time helps. Reward positive behaviors rather than punishing negative behavior. Identify a specific behavior you want to change, and come up with the specific, positive skill you’d like to replace it with. Then, use reinforcement and repetition to teach that positive skill. In that way, you can help your child replace a negative behavior with a positive skill. 

Be specific with praise. Avoid platitudes such as, “You are such a good girl” or “You’re a great kid.” Rather, be specific! That will provide much-needed and very effective positive reinforcement. 

Have fun with your child. Incorporate physical exercise into afternoon homework routines and take fun breaks from homework. Stay off your phone and model good listening skills. Really listen to what your child has to say. 

Anticipate problems. If your child has a challenging time in a specific situation, teach the skills necessary to succeed in that situation—including ST4, a kid-friendly formula to help children remember to “Stop Take Time To Think.” If something is likely to bother your child, or if he or she will be in a novel situation that might be stressful, practice ST4 in advance. Give your child the tools he or she needs to succeed. 
(ST4 is discussed in detail in Marvin’s Monster Diary.) 

Dr. Raun Melmed participated in a Q&A with Familius Marketing Director, Erika Riggs. See what inspired him to write Marvin’s Monster Diary and what he hopes this book can do for children diagnosed with ADHD. 

ER       How long have you been working with children diagnosed with ADHD?
RM      Thirty years ago I wrote a review article for a pediatric medical journal on “Unhappy Wanderers” or in the vernacular, kids with ADHD. Skeptics at the time doubted whether indeed the condition even actually existed. I have been passionate about spreading the word that ADHD is real, that the problems these children face are enormous, and that the outcome of those left untreated can be devastating. We ignore the problem at society’s peril. I see these kids every day in my practice. No, they are not lazy, crazy, or stupid and I have yet to meet a child who chooses to fail. Once the condition is recognized we have a place to start. Identifying the problem is key.
ER       Why did you decide to write a children’s book about ADHD?
RM      No parent rejoices at the thought of using medication to treat their child. So I asked myself, “What else might help?” For starters, let’s avoid the shame and blame game. That belongs in the dark ages. We also know that understanding, demystification, and compassion is essential.  Behavioral interventions are evidenced-based and must definitely be considered. When a child can develop insight into their own challenges through problem identification and have access toy tools that can actually make a difference, that’s a beautiful thing. When a kid says to me, “Hey Doc, I tried ST4 – and it works,” it just makes my heart sing!
ER       Why did you use monsters as your main characters?
RM      Sure monsters can be frightening but it’s a lot worse when no one understands you, when everyone is “mad at me,” and when you just don’t know how to get out of a mess you are in. If I tell a kid that I know some ways they can help themselves, they jump at the chance. And if it takes a wacky monster to get their attention, I am all for it!
ER       How will this book help child diagnosed with ADHD?
RM      Kids will be helped when their parents realize the difficulties are real and then commit to working together with their children to come up with solutions. Insight is a good thing, and problem identification is a good thing, and if there are tools that make a difference, then you have hit the jackpot! Marvin’s Monster Diary is filled with these tools for both parents and children. 
ER       What are your next plans with the Monster Diary series?
RM      At the inception of this series, we realized that mindfulness was the key to addressing not only ADHD but also the very many challenges in childhood that even typical children have. Ask any parent what they would like to see improved in their kids, and included among several concerns will be, “How do I get my child to limit their time with videogames, Xbox, and screens in general?”  That’s probably going to be what Marvin and his monster buddies tackle next!

Like the article? We bet you’ll love this book:

Meet Marvin, a lovable monster with a twelve-stringed baby fang guitar, a rambunctious case of ADHD, and a diary to record it all. His teachers scold him, his parents don’t know what to do wit…

Marvin’s Monster Diary

Raun Melmed

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Dr. Raun Melmed is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician. He founded Developmental Pediatric Associates, now known as the Melmed Center, in 1989, where he is currently the medical director. He is also a co-founder and the medical director of th… Read More


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