Lax parents blamed for 'attention deficit' behaviour

Jasbird jasbird#deletethis# at
Mon Jul 21 01:48:06 EST 2003

I have a mate whose younger boy shows all the symptoms of a disruptive
child.  I was always a bit worried by the Jeckyl & Hyde approach to
parenting shown. For instance my mate, PC would sometimes shout (or
raise his voice aggressively) when the child misbehaved. His wife, IG,
would cuddle the kid when he cried - as he invariably did when his
father behaved like that.  The result: reward with punishment and the
kid is totally confused.

PS: Use of ADD drugs is Britain has been greatly accelerating recently
near to the level used in america.
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Lax parents blamed for 'attention deficit' behaviour 

21.07.2003  - 11.45am - By MAXINE FRITH	- LONDON

Hundreds of thousands of children prescribed the anti-hyperactivity
drug Ritalin may simply be the victims of lax parenting, according to
new evidence reported today. 

The work of a British expert has cast doubt on the existence of
conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), and will fuel the
controversy over the spiralling use of Ritalin. 

Behavioural expert Warwick Dyer claims parents need to accept more
blame for their children's "disorders" and move away from the chemical
cosh of prescription drugs. 

In a remarkable breakthrough, he has developed a programme that
focuses on the way parents behave towards their children - and in the
last five years has claimed a 100 per cent success rate. 

Incredibly, he never sees the child involved, and has just one
face-to-face consultation with their parents. 

The rest of his work is limited to a daily telephone briefing with the
parents on how to treat their child. 

Mr Dyer's theory is based on simple ideas such as a rigid system of
sanctions and rewards for good and bad behaviour, with an insistence
on politeness towards parents - and a demand that mothers and fathers
control their tempers as well. 

Mr Dyer said: "I am open-minded about whether ADD exists or not, but
what is certainly clear is that a lot of symptoms ascribed to such
disorders are in fact easily confused with basic behavioural problems
that don't need to be treated with a drug. 

"Parenting is not a democracy. You need to give your child what they
want - love and attention - but on your terms, not theirs." 

Mr Dyer's work is now the subject of a television documentary, to be
broadcast tomorrow. 

One in 10 children is now diagnosed with ADD or the related Attention
Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). 

Ritalin is an amphetamine with a similar potency to cocaine, and
prescribing in Britain has soared one hundredfold in the last 10

In 1990, just 3,000 children were on the drug; today, there are
345,000 taking it, costing the NHS more than (pounds sterling)3
million a year. The drug is being now given to children as young as 18
months old. 

Now a growing lobby of parents, doctors and other experts are
questioning whether ADD or ADHD exist. 

Mr Dyer was a primary school teacher in the east end of London until
he retired and set up the Behaviour Change Consultancy. 

He now sees around 30 families a year, and claims his techniques work
with everyone, from the youngest children to teenagers. 

Mr Dyer said: "The problem is that a lot of parents simply aren't
being parents. 

"In the last 20 years, parents have started talking to their children
a lot more, but they have stopped being in control of them. 

"They have tended to examine how they were brought up and reject what
they thought was bad, but they haven't taken on what was good. 

"Children are instinctively artful and will try to put themselves in
control of their parents. I put parents back in control." 

Mr Dyer also demands parents lavish time and attention on their

He said: "Some parents still hark back to their pre-child life and
sometimes act as if they don't have children. 

"Your child needs love and attention. The programme is not based on
the idea of spare the rod, spoil the child. 

" It's about giving children the right to make choices about their
behaviour, but teaching them there are consequences with rewards and

His "back to basics" approach worked to stunning effect with Fred and
Diane from Essex, and their seven-year-old daughter Georgina, who are
featured in the Cutting Edge documentary. 

Georgina had been prescribed Ritalin and had been diagnosed with
special needs because of her appalling temper tantrums and violent

She was expelled from her first playgroup at the age of two and a
half, and her parents were so desperate that last year they had
decided to put her into care. 

But within weeks of adopting Mr Dyer's techniques, Georgina's
behaviour had improved. 

Fred, who runs a wedding video business and Diane, a civil servant,
had to spend seven months in daily phone calls to Mr Dyer, where they
had to describe her behaviour in detail, and accept castigations from
the expert when they deviated from the sanction system. 

At one point he told the couple: "It's not her fault that you can't
control her. She has wrapped you around her little finger. 

"You aren't accepting that there isn't anything wrong with your

By the end of the seven months, Georgina was having less than two
tantrums a month and while her special needs diagnosis was being

Diane said: "The change has been incredible. This has all been done
without Ritalin. Before, I hated her. Now, she is a normal child. I
feel guilty when I look back to how I treated her before." 

Janice Hill, of the Overload Network, said: "Warwick Dyer has shown
that the idea of ADHD is a myth. 

"Children are being given a drug that has the same pharmacology as
cocaine when in fact all they and their parents need are help with
their behaviour. 

"Doctors should stop dishing out Ritalin and start using safe
alternatives which have been proven to work." 

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