Ask Dr. Phelan: Using 1-2-3 Magic with ADHD and ODD

Ask Dr. Phelan: Using 1-2-3 Magic with ADHD and ODD

Our next question is from Ernest, who writes:

Q: In your DVDs and books, do you cover challenges to parenting children diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and/or ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)?

We certainly do. The 1-2-3 Magic program was actually developed with lots and lots of kids who have ADHD as well as ODD. If you're a clinical psychologist like myself and you're in private practice, research shows that about 40% of your referrals have ADHD at least. And if you know the statistics, about 50–60% of those kids qualify for ODD as well. So if you have a kid with ADHD kid or ODD, you need to be a professional parent.

1-2-3 Magic is no-nonsense. It’s gentle—no arguing, yelling, or spanking. With kids who have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) in particular, our rule about “no talking, no emotion” is critical because if you try and talk too much and explain and nag, you're going to confuse and aggravate them.


Keep in mind:

  • If your child has a valid diagnosis of ADHD, that's not going away. It's probably going to stay there, and there is a good chance it may continue into adulthood. So we're going to manage that as best we can.
  • A lot of ODD comes from parent-child interaction where the parent talks too much and the kid talks too much back, which causes more oppositional defiant behavior.

In summary

With ADHD, we're not going to get rid of the diagnosis. But if the child's young enough—like under eight years of age—with 1-2-3 Magic, we want to try and get rid of the ODD behavior and get rid of that diagnosis if we can. Best of luck to you.



February 15, 2019
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