Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (AD/HD) presents its own unique challenges to kids and parents alike. This chronic condition can make it difficult for kids to focus, antsy and impulsive in the decisions they make. Usually, AD/HD begins in childhood, but can persist into adulthood. Difficulty focusing in school and forming relationships with people are common impacts from the condition, so it is important that parents who know their children wrestle with AD/HD give them the support they need.

Parents who have never had the condition themselves may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out how best to support their children. Merriam Sarcia Saunders, a psychotherapist who specializes in helping children with AD/HD and learning disabilities and author of the children’s book My Whirling, Twirling Motor (Magination Press) is here to help.

Kids with AD/HD have little control over their energy levels or how frequently they get distracted. Neither does the little boy and main character of My Whirling, Twirling Motor. From the perspective of the boy, you can sympathize with his difficulties and as he puts it, his “whirling, spinning, humming motor” that gets him into trouble.

AD/HD can be a difficult concept for kids to wrap their heads around, so the metaphor of a constantly running car motor is an easier way to unpack the condition. As the little boy emphasizes, the motor is always with him, he cannot just turn it off, even though he really wishes he could. The little boy walks readers through his day and the many frustrating things that resulted from his whirring motor.

Forgetting his lunch and homework, wiggling through story time, running around his house, as each misdeed or temptation caused by the child’s motor is added to the list, readers can see how many challenges he is faced with throughout the day. At bedtime, the child is anxious, hiding under the covers with the assumption that his mom will discipline him for all his mistakes.

However, the little boy finds that his mother did not come to scold him at all. In fact, reveals a sparkly red notebook and reads from his “Wonderful List” all the things he did that day that she was proud of. No longer anxious, the boy has no trouble getting to bed and thinks of all the good things he will do the next day that will be on his Wonderful List tomorrow.

Parents noticing their kids doing well and making their own Wonderful List is an excellent reminder of all the good deeds they have done. Rewarding kids with AD/HD with a story read aloud or a game with a parent on days when they behave well are also good ways to work on the condition together. Creating teachable moments for the times the kids act out, without shaming them is equally important. Always being aware of their behavior, and making sure your kids know how much they are loved just as they are is a practice that will boost their kindness and confidence immeasurably.

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Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT, is a psychotherapist who specializes in helping families of children with autism spectrum disorder, AD/HD, and learning disablities. She livess in Northern California. Visit @merriammft on Twtter and


Tammie Lyon is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous books for children, including Olive and Snowflake, the Eloise series, and the Katie Woo series. Visit @tammielyon on Instagram and Twitter, and