Perhaps I should title this post, Parenting Books for the Rest of Us…. as you most likely experience, kids with ADHD just do not fit the mold of most traditional parenting books. It can be so discouraging when your kids do not find success with the advice that pervades the parenting circles….time outs, sticker charts, or my favorite – “just tell him to stay seated!”
I read a lot of parenting books – or rather START a lot. I finish few because I’m a tough critic and most parenting books give advice that doesn’t quite work with my kids. This post contains what I consider to be The Best ADHD books for Parents.
While we may get a bit of a parenting break over the summer – without the stress of school, strict bedtimes and teacher expectations – ADHD issues tend to lessen a bit now. Summer is a great time to regroup and learn something new!
1. The Explosive Child by Ross Greene
The Explosive Child literally turned my ideas of parenting on their head. It is one of the earliest adhd books for parents I read.
For the first time I was advised to look beyond the behaviors and address their root cause. Out went sticker charts and punishments and in came collaborative problem solving, compassion and looking at behavior as communication.
These ideas were quite revolutionary as our therapists up until this point had solely been addressing behaviors. You can imagine how that had gone – years of therapy with very little benefit.
The Explosive Child had me looking at lagging skills and learning how to communicate with my son and teach him that his thoughts and feelings mattered and should be expressed.
2. Saving Sarah by Susy Parker
Saving Sarah, by Susy Parker is truly an inspirational, page turner. I saw myself in this book – over and over and over. Susy is so honest about her struggle to figure out how to parent her amazing daughter with ADHD. Like us, she is a fierce, warrior mama who gives up at nothing to give her ADHD child the very best.
Saving Sarah reads like a diary and I literally, could not put it down. Susy takes us through the exasperating journey of doctors, specialists, and school meetings. The ADHD Parenting struggle is real and filled with just about every emotion you can think of. I love her candidness and feel like I lived a similar roller coaster path.
Susy, through all the ups and downs, was able to come out with a positive view of ADHD and focus on the gifts, instead of the challenges. The message is one of love conquers all and that compassion for our children can go a long way in their healing – and ours!
3. Differently Wired by Debbie Reber
Debbie Reber’s newest book, Differently Wired is such an inspiringly helpful read. Its one of the best guidebooks out there for raising kids with neurological differences. She is candid about her own experiences and foibles as a parent raising a son on the spectrum. This makes her so very relatable.
Debbie( you may remember her from my Best ADHD Parenting Podcast post) offers tips, mindset shifts and self-care ideas from a mom who gets it. The book not only give concrete advice on how to deal with tough times, but reminds us over and over to enjoy the good stuff. And there is good stuff – lots of it.
My favorite chapters talk about showing up in the present and recognizing how your energy affects your child(a huge lesson for me and one that I continue to work on).
Honestly, Differently Wired will have you melting with an appreciation for this amazing parenting journey, even if it’s not quite the one you expected.
I came across these next two adhd books for parents when I was heavily researching Reflex Integration and Rhythmic Movements as a treatment for ADHD. Both books were really eye opening for me and really flipped how I look at ADHD. So many of the symptoms can be helped immensely (if not eradicated completely) with these easy physical movements that grow the brain. Both of these books look at ADHD as a developmental condition – not as a disease to be medicated.
4. Movements that Heal by Harald Bloomberg
We have had great success treating the symptoms of ADHD with Reflex Integration Training. Harald Bloomberg(with Moira Dempsey) literally wrote the book on the subject.
Movements that Heal explains the stages of a developing brain and body in an easy to understand way. They highlight why a lack of both movement experiences and normal rhythmical baby movements wreak havoc on the developing nervous system. And how this lack of input can lead to problems with attention, emotional regulation, motor challenges, etc.
Harald looks beyond the band-aid effect of treating the symptoms of ADHD with medication and looks at ADHD as a developmental disorder. He suggests(and lists case after case to prove) that simple movements can grow the brain and, in turn, lessen or eradicate the symptoms of ADHD.
This book turned my preconceived ideas about ADHD on their head, giving me so much new information to digest! Here was an explanation of ADHD that was rooted in lack of movement with specific strategies to overcome these symptoms!!
I have no idea why these ideas are not more mainstream and part of the common treatment process for ADHD and other attention or learning issues.
This book is a great basic primer on the concepts behind reflex integration and really gives a completely different view of ADHD than we are used to in the US.
If you are interested in reading more about Reflex Integration, read my post about our experience with a Physical Therapist trained in Rhythmic Movements and Reflex Integration. The process has been life changing for us.
5. Smart Moves by Carla Hannaford
I ordered Smart Moves along with Movements that Heal on the advice of our Physical Therapist. I was so fascinated by this idea of lack of proper movement being at the core of my sons’ challenges that I wanted to continue to learn about the ideas that Bloomberg presented in his book.
Carla Hanford’s, Smart Moves, goes really in-depth with the science behind the brain and has many extremely helpful(and hopeful!) case studies.
Like Bloomberg, Carla shows us how movement and play are essential to our growing brain and vital to becoming the best possible learner we can be. She focuses a bit less on ADHD and more on learning and emotional issues, which often come hand in hand with attention issues.
In Smart Moves, Carla Hannaford describes how emotions and the physiological stress reaction can affect the everyday lives of both children and adults. She invents the term SOSOH (Stressed Out, Survival-Oriented Humans) for people with learning disabilities or attention difficulties. She argues that ADD, ADHD, and all other learning problems are related to stress, as stress produces survival-oriented behavior while inhibiting the learning process.
This book is great for teachers as it goes really in-depth with alternatives to enhance learning ability. Included in the list are: de-emphasizing rote learning; more experiential, active instruction; less labeling of learning disabilities; more physical movement; more personal expression through arts, sports and music; less prescribing of Ritalin and other drugs whose long-term effects are unknown.
6. Listen by Patty Wipfler
I heard Patty Wipfler speak at an online conference and literally found myself hanging onto her every word. Listen, Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Challenges is my most recently read book on this list, so I am just beginning to put these tips into place.
And let me just say, I wish I had read this book years ago! Wipfler’s suggestions and methods just feel so right and caring, while still addressing both your child’s needs and your own. This just might be my new favorite adhd books for parents!
The tools in this book are meant to ease the stress around highly emotional and upset moments. This where I struggle the most in my parenting – the times when my son’s fears make him highly emotional and often aggressive.
I often at am a loss for how to react to my son’s big emotions and angry words. Wipfler’s advice have already put me at ease and armed me with lots to try.
Wipfler also suggests many different ways to connect to your kiddos – special time, stay listening (listening and being present when your kids are at their worst), and play listening( a way to defuse a situation and connect instead of yell.)
I really agree with her suggestion to find a listening partner – someone who, at a moments notice, can listen to your woes, tirades or tears about your kiddo. We all need someone who we can pour our heart out to so we can come back to our child ready and able to deal.
Parents, she suggests, may also be working out an emotional “project” that you need to be sensitive to. Our children may be mirroring our own journey as we deal with past upsets or traumas. Yep, makes perfect sense.
Wipfler’s ideas are easy to read and applicable to any stage in your child’s life. In fact, I’ve never seen a higher rated parent book on Amazon!
7. Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn
Unconditional Parenting goes hand in hand with many of these other ADHD books for parents…Kohn does not write specifically for the ADHD parent…but he promotes connection and totally disagrees with sticker charts, rewards and punishments.
First and foremost, Kohn is super clear about the negatives of rewards and punishments – not only do they not work in the long run, but they can actually have longer lasting, adverse effects.
After years of trying different reward systems and complicated consequences, I finally realized why they do not work for my ADHD kids. These types of behavioral systems focus on behaviors instead of digging deeper to root causes. I want to raise thoughtful human beings, not kids who only act nice when they think there is a prize.
This book really resonated with me when my kids were smaller and continues to hold some really deep truths for me today. At a time when The Naughty Step and time outs were all the rage, I took comfort in Kohns dislike of these methods. These techniques made things for my son even worse and Kohn reasons that the isolation of time outs can be really harmful to a child when all they may need is to feel loved.
Kohn stresses that parenting is through good and bad and children need to feel loved the whole way – and that your love is not a condition of their behavior.
Kohn really goes against a lot of main stream parenting advice which is probably why I love this book so much.
8. Simplicity Parenting, by Kim John Payne
Being a Simplicity Parenting Family Life Coach, I am perhaps slightly biased towards Kim John Payne’s, Simplicity Parenting. But, it’s for a good reason. This book has had such a huge impact on both the way I parent and run my household. If you want a simpler, more meaningful life with your kids, this is your guidebook.
Simplicity Parenting serves to help families navigate the ever increasing pace of today’s world and the pressures that can cause anxiety and behavioral problems in children. Both the accumulation of stuff and the fury of screens and busy schedules have a major, negative impact on our children’s growing brains.
Payne cites a study where children with ADHD showed remarkable improvement in their negative behaviors simply by changing their environments. The effects were even more positive than those achieved thru pharmaceutical medications, alone.
Payne shows us that simply by making changes to your families’ lifestyle you can have a tremendous positive effect on the life of your child, whether they have ADHD or not. The book offers inspiration as well as concrete ideas to hep you give your children the space, freedom and time to experience a childhood where they can become their best selves. Real life examples from families are given to help you come up with your own plans.
This book made me realize how much our home environment played a role in the day to day stress and anxiety of both myself and my kids. I became vigilant about keeping only a few toys and books out at any given time and made a conscious decision to really limit screen time.
Now as a parent of tweens, I continue to feel empowered to change what I have control over and not worry about the rest. There is less fighting and rushing around when I make conscious decisions about our time, our stuff, and what media filters into our home.
9. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Mazlish
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish’s books were some of the first parenting materials I read. My favorite is How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk.( I have the teen version , too!) Faber and Mazlish are amazing at showing parents how to deal with children’s negative feelings.
Their advice is practical with changes you can start making as soon as you put down the book.
I was drawn to this book when my son began to have behavioral issues in first grade and I had no idea how to respond to his anger. What I found to be of help in How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk are the real life scenarios with different examples of ways to respond appropriately. I learned how to validate my son’s feelings without condoning poor behavior. These things are so tricky that I still refer to this book for a refresher.
I also love the alternatives to punishment section. I have known forever that punishments don’t work for our family.
Punishments only serve to make me feel more in control of the moment, but have no lasting effects on stopping the bad behavior.
Faber and Mazlish get to the heart of this issues and give lots of alternatives to punishment. I love, love, love the language they use – it’s been so much more helpful than yelling!
10. Connected Parenting, by Jennifer Kolari
I first learned of Jennifer Kolari when a friend sent me her YouTube video. The topic resonated so strongly with me that I ordered her book about 15 minutes into her presentation. I find her writing very similar to Faber and Mazlish in many ways.
Kolari encourages what she calls “mirroring” – a way to show your child that you are listening and understand her feelings.
As parents we often dismiss feelings as insignificant, saying things like, “You’re okay, Don’t worry about it ” I responded like that for years, with good intentions, thinking it was helping my highly sensitive son “toughen up”.
Once I started mirroring my sons feelings, our relationship changed only for the better. My son’s anger is defused more quickly when his feelings are acknowledged. This has had such a positive effect on our family and the way I view interactions with my son.
Kolari’s book is filled with so many strategies for managing sticky situations–many of which have resonated with me. From how to prevent outbursts from happening, to learning ways to deescalate them once they’ve begun, her ideas have been so incredibly valuable to my family.
There is a whole chapter on eating, sleeping, and bathroom issues – and who hasn’t had troubles with those? Connected Parenting offers so many suggestions, I have not gotten to put all of them to use yet. How great to have something in my back pocket!