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Caregivers' Skills Program


In this section we're going to pull together some of the more important concepts in the Caregivers' Skills Program. We'll look at the elements that contribute to creating the IA or HM child's cognitive and behavioural patterns and at how to reverse the damage. Each misstep we cover will serve as a reminder of the solutions we've learned to the problem of keeping children off Ritalin.


Throughout this program we have said that no evidence confirms that attention problems are the product of a disease or malfunction of the brain. If you are still wondering how your youngster could have gotten this way, we'll review the ten basic parenting missteps that contribute to a child's becoming IA or HM; we'll also review the solutions we've discussed.

1.    Frequent yelling at your child or other family members trains children to tune out. A loud home trains children to not pay attention to anything.

Solution: Talk in a normal tone at all times. When telling your child to do something, speak in a calm, normal, firm tone.

2.    Frequently hitting or spanking children teaches them to rune out the discomforts of their surroundings. It also makes them nervous and agitated, which interferes with learning and increases HM behaviours.

Solution: Use time out exactly as prescribed in this program. Use reinforcement removal when the target behaviour is severe, such as aggression.

3.    Being inconsistent confuses children trying to learn right from wrong. They don't understand when they are behaving as they should or shouldn't.

Solution: Be consistent with praise for doing things correctly and with using time out for doing things incorrectly.

4.    Doing everything for your children trains them not to think, not to problem solve, and not to be independent. Not thinking is the key characteristic of children with attention problems.

Solution: Use the CSP, in which the consequences require children to think, to remember, and to be attentive. Teach them to do things for themselves and to help with family responsibilities. Then require them to not only do all of these things but to remember when these tasks are to be performed. Get rid of the mistaken belief that good parents wait on their children. Making them dependent makes them handicapped.

5.    Serving as your children's reminder machine teaches them how not to think for themselves.

Solution: Use praise for remembering and time out for not remembering.

6.    Warning your children of the ramifications of their misbehaviour is similar to reminding them and contributes to their not thinking.

Solution: If they fail to do something, send them directly to time out.

7.    Sitting with your children while they do their homework teaches them dependency.

Solution: Set up strong consequences if the school reports that a child's homework was poorly done or incomplete. Use the daily report card program. With strong enough consequences, such as loss of free play after school with no substitutions, watch how your child hustles to get schoolwork done properly.

8.    Failing to praise your children when they are behaving nicely reduces their motivation to behave correctly - motivation to do their schoolwork and their chores, to problem solve, and to take the initiative.

Solution: IA and HM children are poorly motivated, and this can only be remedied with a high dosage of daily praise.

9.    De facto (unintentional) neglect is a prime cause of IA and HM kids. Because we fail to train children in appropriate behaviour, we fail to tenderly nurture their values and we break their spirit. Our stressful, busy lives steal from our children the quantity and quality of love and attention they need from us. The dramatic increase in the diagnosis of kids with attention problems is not occurring because of the epidemic spread of a disease but because children without love and nurturance simply stop caring.

Solution: Carve out of your busy schedules not only quality time but sufficient time (quantity) each and every day. Children need our attention.

10.    Failing to make education and reading important places your child at a lifelong disadvantage.

Solution: First, from preschool on, take a deep and sincere interest in your children's day at school. Sit and talk with them about their day and also share with them how yours went. A great time for this is dinnertime, with everyone gathered at the dining table instead of in front of the TV.

Yes, a good education is an important ingredient to getting a good job, but education in and of itself is important. If you convey excitement about your own learning as well as theirs, you'll be transmitting an important message. Time, love, attention, and interest in school, learning, and education are crucial if you want your child to pay attention and behave well in school. Remember that this is how values are taught. A child who values his education will not be diagnosed as IA or HM.

Second, offer lots of opportunities for educational enrichment. Take family visits to zoos, museums, plays, live-music concerts, historical sites, nature and science activities, and college campuses. In other words make learning new things fun, exciting, and an important family value.

Third, make reading a basic value in the family. Kids who love reading rarely display attention problems. If you follow the ten basic ingredients we discussed earlier and use carefully what you have been taught throughout this book, wonderful changes will take place in your child. At the same time, the IA or HM (ADD or ADHD) patterns of behaviour and lack of thinking disappear-and you won't need Ritalin.

If the problems begin to return, you are relaxing. Proper parenting to arrest and prevent attention and misbehaving problems requires your total dedication. You must remain vigilant and work diligently for the well-being of your most loving and God-given blessing - no shortcuts.


David Stein writes:

"I want to close this program with a word from my heart as a psychologist and as a father of three children. I believe in everything I have presented in this program about the parenting skills of CSP, about IA HM not being a disease, about the dangers of Ritalin and about the solutions I've presented for building highly motivated and independent children. But good behaviour means nothing unless we also enjoy a deep, loving relationship with our children.

"I have learned from one of my favourite writers, Deepak Chopra, and from my favourite book, the Bible, that love is an unselfish thing because we give it freely and should expect nothing in return. At the same time, love is a selfish thing because it gives us so much joy, peace, and serenity in return. If the love is returned from others, it adds wonderfully to a great life. And the CSP moves our interactions with our children from anger and frustration to positive interactions and love.

"Your children are precious. And now that your children are better behaved and thinking on their own, you can enjoy them so much more.

"I hope that I have presented ways your child can no longer be viewed as a diseased or handicapped person but as a healthy, normal child who will henceforth reach his or her full potential and never, never, never again be put on Ritalin."


David B. Stein received his bachelor's degree from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College, and his master's and doctoral degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University. There he served as the university's president of Psi Chi - the national honour society for psychology. He completed his residency at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.

Stein is associate professor of psychology at Longwood College, which is part of the Virginia state college system. He has been an educator, writer, speaker, and practitioner for over 25 years and has taught at the elementary, intermediate, college, and graduate school levels. He is a former clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences. His clinical experiences include being a staff psychologist at the Memphis Mental Health Institute, director of psychological services at a home for adolescents, a staff psychologist at mental health centres, and owner and director of a private psychology treatment centre in Memphis.

Stein is listed in Who's Who Among America's Teachers, 1998, and Outstanding Americans, 1998. He is a member of the Council for the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. He is credited in National Contributions to Mental Health with developing the first divorce recovery therapy group in the South.

He is licensed as a clinical psychologist in Virginia and Tennessee and as a school psychologist in New York.

Stein authored the first book on comprehensive behavioural treatment strategies for oppositional and defiant adolescents, titled Controlling the Difficult Adolescent: The REST Program (Real Economy System for Teens) (1990).















Acknowledgement: The content of this program is based on Ritalin Is Not The Answer: A Drug-Free, Practical Program for Children Diagnosed with ADD or ADHD by David B. Stein, PhD (Jossey-Bass, 1999 paperback)