Is Discipline a Solution for ADD?


Caution, anecdotes ahead.

I was reading some symptoms of ADD today and was stunned by the fact that they all were the exact symptoms of not having enough discipline in a household.

  • doesn’t pay attention

  • doesn’t follow-through

  • doesn’t listen

  • unfocused

  • unorganized

Try this: imagine a family that you know where the parents are pretty strict. Not like beatings strict, but basically not tolerating backtalk, not feeding their kids junk food, requiring that they keep their own rooms clean, speak respectfully to elders, etc.

Now imagine that family with an ADD kid. Or any family like it. I myself cannot.

Look, kids are kids. They play, they get crazy, they act up, the complain, they get lazy, they get inattentive, and they occasionally go Tasmanian Devil on you. It happens. And disciplined parents know to let it happen sometimes. But those parents treat it like an exception that shouldn’t happen very often and should be curtailed.

My opinion is that some parents let this happen constantly and call it ADD. They don’t require their kids to bathe and brush their teeth every night. They don’t discipline them when they interrupt adults. They allow them to be rude to others in the name of cuteness. They don’t require to clean up after themselves because they think it’s too much to ask. Etc. They basically let their kids do what they want rather than spend the massive amount of time and energy to force them to behave better.

In short, they don’t require their children to act right, so they don’t. And in today’s world, children behaving poorly is called ADD.

As I said, my evidence is only anecdotal — picked up from many families I’ve observed over the years. But there are two things I’m unable to ignore from those observations:

  1. Parents who run a disciplined household tend to not have kids with ADD

  2. The list of ADD symptoms is eerily similar to the list of symptoms for a kid with no parental discipline

It’s uncanny. They run around doing whatever they want to, ignore instructions from adults, interrupt others when they’re speaking because they believe they’re the center of the universe, don’t do their homework, don’t brush their teeth, don’t do their chores, don’t clean up after themselves, etc., etc.

All identical symptoms for for both ADD and not having a healthy fear and respect of the adults in their lives. Astounding.

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My advice to those who have kids with ADD: put in the extra effort to add structure to their lives. Require that they respect their elders. Require that they look presentable, require that they eat whatever you put in front of them. Require that they keep their own rooms clean. Require, most of all, that they immediately do whatever is asked of them by their parents, and that any deviation from that is met with immediate discipline (see spanking, heavy chores, etc.).

Try that consistently for two weeks and see if you still need to see the doctor who specializes in “ADD”. I doubt you will.

But keep in mind: this doesn’t mean that nothing about ADD is real — perhaps some kids do have something that gives them more behavior issues — but this didn’t seem to be a problem in the 50’s when parents had control of the household, and it doesn’t seem to be a problem in countries that produce disciplined, educated children. Where are all the ADD cases in Finland and China?

No, even if ADD does have some merit (which I don’t doubt), what’s changed to cause this is the U.S’s approach to parenting — not the chemical makeup of our children’s brains.

[ Oct 17, 2011 ]

Feb 26, 2019 — This is far too confident for my current quality of writing. I was a much sloppier writer in the past.

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