Dr. William Stixrud – Why Autonomy Is So Important for Kids with ADHD (and Everybody Else)

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What the speaker is most known for his book book, co-authored with Ned Johnson, The Self-Driven Child: The Science of Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

Since the publication of the Self-Driven Child in 2018, thousands of families around the world have used the strategies Dr. Stixrud will talk about today to help kids develop stronger self-motivation and stress tolerance and to parents support their kids’ development with much less stress, conflict, and worry. 

Something about Dr. Stixrud that impressed me is he’s been doing this work for 30+ years.

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The “wiring” of kids with ADHD can make it harder for them to develop a healthy sense of autonomy or control over their lives, as do many of the ways in which we try to help them (e.g, rewards for work completion, telling them 10 times etc.).

Many adolescents with ADHD spend much of their incredible teenage energy trying to fight adults’ attempts to help them behave and perform better, which is a terrible use of their energy.

Dr. Stixrud’s presentation will summarize research on the relationship between a sense of control and adolescents’ mental health and motivational development. He will then talk about why the development of a healthy sense of control is more challenging for kids with ADHD than it is for many kids.

Most of the presentation will then focus on strategies caregivers can use for supporting autonomy. These include

(1) playing a consultative role with kids rather than the role of boss, manager or enforcer;

(2) supporting kids in making their own decisions;

(3) lowering the stress/anxiety levels at home;

(4) building in periods of “radical downtime” to offset the effects of 24/7 engagement with technology;

(5) helping kids with ADHD develop an accurate model of reality that includes the important role that successful late bloomers play in our society.

William R. Stixrud, Ph.D., is a clinical neuropsychologist and the co-author (with Ned Johnson) of the best-selling book, The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

He is also a member of the Adjunct Faculty of Children’s National Medical Center, as well as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Stixrud additionally is a frequent lecturer on topics related to neuropsychological assessment, brain development, motivation, meditation, and the effects of stress, sleep deprivation, and technology overload on the brain.

His work has been featured in publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Time Magazine, Scientific American, Business Week, Barron's, and, New York Magazine.

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