Taking Charge of ADHD, Third Edition: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents Info

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From distinguished researcher/clinician Russell A. Barkley,
this treasured parent resource gives you the science-based information
you need about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and its
treatment. It also presents a proven eight-step behavior management plan
specifically designed for 6- to 18-year-olds with ADHD. Offering
encouragement, guidance, and loads of practical tips, Dr. Barkley helps
you:

*Make sense of your child's symptoms.
*Get an
accurate diagnosis.
*Work with school and health care professionals
to get needed support.
*Learn parenting techniques that promote
better behavior.
*Strengthen your child's academic and social
skills.
*Use rewards and incentives effectively.
*Restore
harmony at home.

Updated throughout with current research and
resources, the third edition includes the latest facts about
medications and about what causes (and doesn't cause) ADHD.

/>See also Dr. Barkley's bestselling Taking Charge of Adult
ADHD
.

Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies
(ABCT) Self-Help Book of Merit

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Reviews for Taking Charge of ADHD, Third Edition: The Complete, Authoritative Guide for Parents:

5

Jan 27, 2016

I wish I had read this three years ago. This has become an invaluable resource for me in getting a gameplan together to manage my son's ADHD. I recommend this for anyone with a child who has trouble in the classroom. It doesn't touch on any learning disabilities, but gives plenty of arrows to point you in the right direction.
3

Jul 06, 2013

Hm. Don't know where to start on this one. Some chapters were certainly worth it. Others were very clinical and scary. Lots of statistics to make it Loud and Clear what kids and parents are up against. It was a good cautionary tale in some respects, validations about some of the things I'm already doing in other respects...and some good basic medical information. But, as a good friend reminded me recently, this isn't the book that is going to give me hope. This book will give me facts and Hm. Don't know where to start on this one. Some chapters were certainly worth it. Others were very clinical and scary. Lots of statistics to make it Loud and Clear what kids and parents are up against. It was a good cautionary tale in some respects, validations about some of the things I'm already doing in other respects...and some good basic medical information. But, as a good friend reminded me recently, this isn't the book that is going to give me hope. This book will give me facts and truths. The hope I must find from the heart of my boy and my faith. ...more
4

May 22, 2013

I found this book to be both informative and insightful. However, in my opinion, it also reads like a textbook and was at times a bit of a chore to get through.
4

Oct 28, 2019

Disclaimer: This is probably more a rant about my son’s ADHD than a review. You’ve been warned.

Not too long ago, while reading a description of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I was struck by its similarities to my child. Having been around for 100% of his fetal development, I know I ingested nothing worse than Ramen Noodles, but the similarities led me to the suspicion that my son’s more concerning behaviors and traits are related to some type of early brain damage. This took me down a rabbit hole Disclaimer: This is probably more a rant about my son’s ADHD than a review. You’ve been warned.

Not too long ago, while reading a description of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I was struck by its similarities to my child. Having been around for 100% of his fetal development, I know I ingested nothing worse than Ramen Noodles, but the similarities led me to the suspicion that my son’s more concerning behaviors and traits are related to some type of early brain damage. This took me down a rabbit hole that led me back to his diagnosis of ADHD from 3-4 years ago, which then led me to this book.

I don’t know why the pediatrician who diagnosed him didn’t explain that there is so much more to ADHD than inattentiveness. I hadn’t realized how valid “Blame It on My ADD” could be. This book explained so much about my son’s behavior, so many aha moments. It was like watching the end of Sixth Sense and reframing all those scenes in light of the big reveal. Some of the bigger ahas:

* Pre-natal developmental problems are linked to ADHD. I have a pet theory about mold in the chronically flooded basement I lived in while pregnant, but this is not one of the known factors listed in the book. What I do know is that my baby was so small en utero that the doctor decided I must have been confused about my dates and pushed out the due date a full month (which made no sense because that meant I wasn’t pregnant when I took my first positive pregnancy test, but hey, I’m no doctor). Lo and behold, my son was born “early” and very small.
* Temperament in infancy and early childhood is connected to ADHD. People would tell me my colicky baby had to be in pain to cry so much, but I secretly wondered if he was just bored. He could never get enough stimulation. I became a human Disneyland ride, bouncing and pacing and swinging simultaneously to keep him happy. The study about ADHD children playing with each toy for less time really hit home. As a toddler (through NOW), he couldn’t (can’t) entertain himself for long. I remember one particular weekend rushing him from one activity to the next — the zoo, the park, several playdates, and more — and coming home exhausted only to find my 5-year-old couldn’t entertain himself for even the one unstructured hour of the day. Still waiting for that selective hyper-focus everyone talks about ADHD-ers having to kick in.
* Deficiencies in fine motor skills are linked to ADHD. Around age 4, he was concerned about who would spoon-feed him when his baby brother needed the same service. When he was starting kindergarten, I remember trying to explain to a teacher that he couldn’t put on his own jacket. She kept thinking I meant he couldn’t zip it, but he literally could not put it on. Another teacher warned me he would fail kindergarten if he couldn’t form more legible letters. (We moved, so I never found out if he progressed enough to pass that school district’s standards.)
* More than an attention problem, ADHD is an issue with self-regulation and executive function. I think the book uses the term “self-inhibition,” but it made more sense for me to think of it as “self-control.” I truly believe my son wants to be “good” but has cognitive deficiencies that make carrying out that resolve difficult. I remember his pre-school self staring wistfully at a mall Santa and saying, “Santa won’t bring me anything. I’m not good.”
* ADHD brains have difficulty processing long-term consequences. Only days before I read this, my son had tried to explain, when asked why he did X when he knew the consequence would be Y, “I’m not a future person. I’m a now person.” He wasn’t presenting it as an excuse, just an explanation. I don’t know if I’m mixing up this book with other studies I’ve read, but I guess ADHD brains don’t get much, if any, of a chemical rush of pleasure from anticipating a reward, making it more difficult to work towards that reward. This explains why all his sticker charts remained empty growing up. I assume it works the same way in reverse, where he doesn’t get the same reaction to anticipated negative consequences as everyone else does.
* ADHD is one ginormous sleep problem. I’d already learned that ADHD and sleep problems are connected, but this book further explained that those with ADHD move more physically during sleep as well as during the day, and they don’t have the same structured circadian rhythms as others. I’ve read elsewhere that when sleep problems are solved, ADHD symptoms go away entirely. But since ADHD causes the sleep problems to begin with…
* ADHD is a disability. I remember trying to explain to a therapist that our son was “high maintenance” and required a lot of energy from me. The therapist interpreted this as him having “special needs,” and I corrected her, but maybe that wasn’t the wrong way to put it. However, the author is firm that this particular disability requires MORE accountability of the disabled, not less, in order to mitigate the disability.
* ADHD is linked to Oppositional Defiance Order. My son doesn’t have an ODD diagnosis, but that would explain A LOT.

One thing the author did well was make me, the parent, feel validated. I’ve gotten so burned out on parenting books, with their condescending assurance that you were doing everything ridiculously wrong until you found this book. I was whining to my sister about this when she said, “Maybe all the normal parenting books don’t work because you aren’t parenting a normal child.” (Mind blown.) If this can be called a parenting book, it’s not a normal one, thank goodness. The author reassures us that we aren’t bad parents. One study is cited to show that the differences between parents of ADHD children and others is probably a reaction to the child, not a cause. The author walks a fine line between not blaming parents and showing it’s still within the parents’ power to make it better. (It was sobering to hear that the big distinguishing factor between whether difficult toddlers are later diagnosed with ADHD is the primary caregiver.) He even understands that parents have their own crap to deal with, with ADHD parents being more likely to have depression and anxiety and even ADHD themselves, something that “normal” parenting books never seem to grasp. When the author expresses understanding of how exhausting parenting an ADHD child is...strumming my pain with his fingers. He notes that parents of ADHD children have the same stress levels as parents of children with severe developmental disabilities. And I thought I was just a wuss. He even includes a chapter on how to take care of yourself as a parent, with the takeaway that your child doesn’t need you to be a martyr. 

A lot of the parenting suggestions in the book rang true to me, such as:
* Reward and punish immediately so they can more easily connect their behavior with its consequence. (I think of this as treating them like Pavlov’s dogs.)
* Lecture sparingly. The kid probably isn’t listening anyway. If you have to lecture, keep it short and sweet.
* Never issue a command without enforcing it. So think carefully before issuing a command.
* Focus on one behavior at a time. Decide what the biggest problem is and work on that. I don’t know why I never gave myself permission to do this, but it’s very freeing to think I don’t have to address every problem at once.
* Don’t expect perfect grades, or homework perfectly completed. I already resigned myself to Bs, but I was still insistent that homework be perfect because it was done on my watch. Like several parents in the book, I’ve let homework impair our relationship. Grades are definitely not the biggest problem we should be working on, and if I’ve learned anything from parenting it’s that I need to save my strength for the battles that actually matter.

On the other hand, the suggestions for dealing with schools seem like helicopter parenting to me. Teachers do not get paid enough to do give as much individualized attention to my child as the author thinks parents should demand. However, that’s my perspective as the parent of a kid who’s bright enough (or at least at the older end of his class enough) to eek by despite his ADHD (albeit below his potential), and maybe I’d feel differently if he wasn’t doing so okay. It’s probably useful for students who already have IEPs, and maybe I’ll revisit that chapter if we ever get to that point.

I’m also a bit skeptical about reward programs, having set up and discarded many over the years. The nature of ADHD, as the author explained, requires bigger-than-usual rewards, so even small rewards have to be relatively large. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized he could be bribed, at 5, to not fight with his little brother for 24 hours in exchange for the backpack he wanted for school. But I don’t feel I should buy him a $10 something for every day he doesn’t hit his brother, and giving him tokens (e.g., sticker charts, money) to work up to a bigger reward has almost never worked with him. Further, often when I’ve offered him a reward and he doesn’t earn it, he’s thrown a tantrum about not being given the reward anyway, so I’m stuck with even worse behavior than I started with. I’m not sure how to apply a reward system in conjunction with other science that suggests too many rewards and even praise can backfire into entitlement and a lack of motivation to perform without an arbitrary/extrinsic reward. I don’t want to raise a Naomi Campbell: “I don't get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day.”

As other reviewers have noted, there is certainly a bleak, almost hopeless tone to the book. I’d been taking comfort that kids “grow out of it,” as evidenced by their frontal lobes developing into normal size by adulthood, but the author shatters this by observing that an increase in size is not necessarily an increase in grey matter. And sure, 50% of kids “grow out of” ADHD by adulthood, but according to the author only 10% of kids DON’T have a some sort of mental disorder (depression, ADHD, anti-social, etc.) in adulthood.

But it’s what I needed — realistic explanations and expectations, not empty platitudes or promises about what a wonderful gift ADHD is if only it were understood. Maybe I’ll want to read that type of book later, but right now I want to know what I’m up against.

It’s helped to remind myself, when hearing that ADHD teens are however-many-more times likely to crash a car or get someone pregnant, that 4 times a very small percentage is still a small percentage. (Side note: I thought it was a little hypocritical of the author to scare us about how much more likely our child is to do all manner of shenanigans, then later lecture us not to catastrophize about our teen doing those shenanigans.)

I would have liked to see more optimism about neurofeedback and neuroplasticity in general, with evaluations of the effectiveness of exercises for developing white and grey matter in the prefrontal lobe (e.g, piano, “brain games,” Brain Balance), but I realize this book was written a while ago. I’d love to see an updated version. ...more
5

Jul 15, 2019

I haven't read every page (yet) but this has been an invaluable resource in helping me understand the best way to parent my son.
5

Oct 30, 2013

Best book that I've read on this topic. Recent science, excellent advice. One downside for me: less attention (ha!) to inattentive type than to hyperactive and combined types. Barkley is a blunt guy, calling the myths about ADHD "fallacies" and those holding them to be "scientifically illiterate." This is also the first book I've read that addresses the true seriousness of ADHD, that even the term ADHD (which he thinks should be changed) "trivializes the disorder, since it grossly understates Best book that I've read on this topic. Recent science, excellent advice. One downside for me: less attention (ha!) to inattentive type than to hyperactive and combined types. Barkley is a blunt guy, calling the myths about ADHD "fallacies" and those holding them to be "scientifically illiterate." This is also the first book I've read that addresses the true seriousness of ADHD, that even the term ADHD (which he thinks should be changed) "trivializes the disorder, since it grossly understates the substantial and dramatic problems" it can cause. Kind of a bummer to read cuz ADHD ain't pretty, but I do prefer facts to fallacies, so I recommend it. ...more
2

Apr 25, 2012

Although there are some good chapters in this book, I found that the author assumed all children with ADHD had oppositional defiance disorder (ODD) and a large portion of this book was dedicated to behavior modification and increasing compliance. This book sets out to educate parents about ADHD, but it seems a bit misinformed about all aspects of the disorder. I did appreciate the chapters on how the medications work, and all the options available.
4

Jan 23, 2014

I didn't like that they stuck fast to commonly used medical terms, like "minimal brain dysfunction" and "ADHD" even though not all cases of ADD include Hyperactivity, however I was extremely grateful for the medical explanations of what causes the inattention and for the many tips on how to use positive reinforcement to encourage attention and proper behavior.
5

Feb 19, 2015

This is the bible of ADHD resources. I appreciate how thorough it is, and how the author cites references and dates for every study, fact, or statistic. If you have a child with ADHD, this is a must read, must highlight, must memorize passages. There is a third edition out, and I highly recommend getting the most recent edition, as ADHD research is advancing all the time!
5

August 20, 2014

I'm learning a lot from the little I read so far ...
5

Feb 08, 2018

fantastic ADHD resource. I'm definitely a fact-based/science person, and if there's a why behind anything I want to know it. Some may feel this reads a bit like a text book, which it does at times, but, the information is valuable. As a parent without ADHD raising a child with ADHD there is so much to understand about this disorder & the disorders that can come along with ADHD that I never understood or knew because it wasn't a part of my life. Dr. Barkley explains why we see undesirable fantastic ADHD resource. I'm definitely a fact-based/science person, and if there's a why behind anything I want to know it. Some may feel this reads a bit like a text book, which it does at times, but, the information is valuable. As a parent without ADHD raising a child with ADHD there is so much to understand about this disorder & the disorders that can come along with ADHD that I never understood or knew because it wasn't a part of my life. Dr. Barkley explains why we see undesirable behaviors when raising a child with ADHD, the causes behind them and measures to take to help your child learn coping skills, and to help cause fewer conflicts at home ie. reward systems. Great suggestion in this book for all ages of ADHD young child through adulthood. Also, a whole lot about advocating for your child in a school setting when/if necessary, where to go for advice and what professionals to turn to for help. When we first got started with a diagnosis I knew nothing about any of these things, I should have picked this one up a while ago! This book had me nodding my head in agreement and highlighting passages that validated so much of what I see in my kid and myself as a parent to an ADHD kid. ...more
3

Jan 29, 2019

The first third of the book was pretty good: insightful, not too bogged down, explained multiple aspects well, information that is glossed over or not explained in other texts... then the book got really repetitive for a while. It picked back up a bit at the end in discussing the medications.

A bit of teacher bashing, a lot of ignorance about how to speak up or be an advocate for your child's education, as well as the realities of education in a public school - I would like a better book about The first third of the book was pretty good: insightful, not too bogged down, explained multiple aspects well, information that is glossed over or not explained in other texts... then the book got really repetitive for a while. It picked back up a bit at the end in discussing the medications.

A bit of teacher bashing, a lot of ignorance about how to speak up or be an advocate for your child's education, as well as the realities of education in a public school - I would like a better book about that. You can't choose your child's teachers in public school, interview them like candidates for a poorly paid job, and schools will rarely switch your kids class for lots of reasons, which doesn't really solve the problem or teach your child anything either - and a lot of pro-medicine/pro- pills solve all bias, but as a parent and a teacher, our daughter's medication allows her to be be herself and function, in a way she cannot without it, so I can understand this. ...more
5

Jun 01, 2018

This is definitely a complete guide to adhd. It has everything you could want to know plus lots more resources to continue the journey. I haven't yet implemented the behavior program he recommends, but have high hopes for it. I would definitely recommend this book for parents of kids with adhd. I found it so informative and helpful.
5

Mar 20, 2018

I highly recommend this book for any parents of a child with ADHD. Dr. Barkley does an amazing job explaining the most current research on ADHD and helping parents to critically analyze the research we're bombarded with. He really focuses on developing skills parents will need to successfully raise a child with ADHD and in helping us to understand what life for our kids will be like.
4

Aug 18, 2019

Invaluable context, mixed advice

This book was a lifeline. The framework for understanding ADHD has proven indispensable. I disagree with some of his suggestions for helping kids thrive, but it wasn’t difficult for me to tell between advice I’ll incorporate and advice I’ll ignore.
5

Mar 25, 2019

This book is the bible of ADHD
Technical, yes, but also very clear.
It delves in great detail on the medical side of ADHD which is good if you are interested in that aspect.
However treating ADHD is about the pills and the skills aspect of ADHD.
So more life skills tips would be appreciated in the next edition.

5

Feb 15, 2019

I read the third edition of this book. Fantastic book for parents of ADHD kids. While I knew a lot of what was in this book, I learned a lot of new information. A must read for parents of newly diagnosed kids.
3

Apr 12, 2019

Felt like 3 times longer than it needed to be, but perhaps that's because I don't have a lot of the problems that it covered. I didn't struggle in school or deal with criminal or drug behavior, so I just skipped those...
2

Oct 08, 2019

Some helpful information; much of it would have been more helpful years ago if we'd known what we were dealing with. At this point, a lot of it wasn't relevant, especially since it deals mainly with the impulsive type rather than the inattentive type.
5

Dec 24, 2017

Barkley is tops in his field of ADHE. This book is written very well for parents. His behavior plans are simple and carefully stated. Once set up the should be helpful. As a former Guidance Counselor for 25 years, Blakely’s philosophy and theories are are similar what I have used with my students
5

Aug 07, 2017

so so great took tons of notes on ADHD and it is so helpful to read and gain knowledge
a keeper book to review in the future as well and refer other to it.
5

Feb 18, 2019

Dr. Barkley’s book is one of the standards in the ADHD field. Highly recommended!
1

May 22, 2019

An alarmist, negative look at ADHD, completely missing the gifts that it carries.
4

Dec 02, 2019

Thoughtful and well researched. Lots to process and think about.
5

Mar 14, 2019

Highly recommended, especially for parents of newly diagnosed kids but even as a refresher. Would recommend revisiting once a year as well.

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