Penny Williams is a mother of two, who lives in North Carolina. Follow her blog, Boy Without Instructions, on Penny’ is an award-winning author of three books on parenting ADHD: Boy Without Instructions, What to Expect When Parenting Children with ADHD, and The Insider’s Guide to ADHD. She also writes frequently for ADDitude Magazine, Healthline, and other parenting and special needs publications. Visit her website at

posted: Tuesday April 5th - 9:30am

Two IEP Fixes That Will Turn Your Child’s Life Around

How to make sure teachers really get your child during a special ed meeting.

Two Fixes for Your Child’s Next IEP Meeting
My son, Ricochet, struggles a lot in school. He always has, but middle school this year magnified his academic struggles. With ADHD, autism, dysgraphia, and executive function deficits, significant school struggles are to be expected. What was tripping us up, though, was the fact that his high IQ led teachers and administrators to believe that he was capable of success, but that he chose to be...
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posted: Wednesday December 16th - 11:06am

The Single Most Helpful Strategy in Raising Your ADHD Child

Your child’s feelings matter a whole lot. Don’t diss him for having them. Embrace them with compassion and understanding.

The Best Parenting Strategy to Help Kids with ADHD Manage Emotions
(This blog is an excerpt from Penny Williams’ new book, The Insider’s Guide to ADHD.) The single most helpful strategy for parents of kids with ADHD is validating your child’s thoughts and feelings by showing interest and empathy in them. Sometimes, a child’s emotional intensity is fueled by a parent saying, “you’re overreacting,” “you’re acting like a baby,” or “you’re stretching the truth.” Kids are people, too...
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posted: Wednesday October 21st - 11:42am

Discipline Do’s

When my son started hitting classmates, I spared the rod and did some behavior modification. It’ll work for you, too, if you give it time.

Using Behavior Modification to Stop Hitting at School
ADHD comes with undesirable behaviors. From hyperactivity, to emotional sensitivity, to not responding when spoken to, it can be challenging to not let those “annoyances” get under your skin. Knowing the reasons for each undesirable behavior can help you keep calm and work on modifying them. When Ricochet was in second grade, he was the classroom vigilante. Every time he felt some one had broken a...
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posted: Wednesday September 16th - 9:00am

A Sweet Victory for Mom

Seven years of fighting for my son in school finally paid off.

When the School Doesn’t Follow Your IEP: Don’t Give Up
I have been fighting for people to understand and support my son, Ricochet, in school and beyond, since his diagnosis with ADHD seven years ago. In fact, I was fighting for him the year before that too, in kindergarten. I’ve been blamed for his ADHD. I’ve been told I “need to accept that his life will be hard, that he will always struggle.” I’ve been told...
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posted: Thursday July 2nd - 1:32pm

What’s Up, Doc? When Doctors Think They Know More Than Mommas

If your child’s provider totally ignores your insights about your child, fire him.

ADHD and Autism: Searching for an Accurate Diagnosis
Having a child with ADHD, or other special needs, invites parenting advice from all quarters. “If you’d just punish him more, he’d behave.” “Her only problem is that she’s spoiled.” “My friend’s son had ADHD, and he was cured when they went gluten-free.” “Your daughter lacks motivation and isn’t meeting her potential.” Those and other ADHD myths are usually what I hear from the peanut gallery. I’m used to this...
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posted: Tuesday June 9th - 9:15am

Christmas in June: Finding a New School for My Son

The teachers and administrators never got my son and his challenges, and they refused to understand. So see ya!

School Anxiety and ADHD: When Administration Doesn’t Understand
My son, Ricochet, has been struggling with school avoidance in one form or another for three years. The first two years, he’d cry and scream about going to school, and some days I couldn’t get him there. By the second year, he started getting creative and told stories about being wronged at school, a clever ploy to appeal to my humanity that worked at first. This...
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posted: Wednesday April 29th - 9:00am

Groundhog Day 2: The ADHD Version

How to reclaim the joy of parenting an ADHD child when despair nudges it aside—again.

ADHD in Children
It is normal to grieve when your child is diagnosed with ADHD. No, it’s not a life-threatening illness, but it can be if denied or left untreated. Despite that, you just found out that your child has a neurological disorder that will likely affect him for the rest of his life. It’s OK to grieve—healthy even. You grieve, and you move on. You begin treatment and...
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posted: Monday March 30th - 9:00am

The Truth Will Set Parents Free

Our expectations need to be guided by our child’s development, not his calendar age.

Developmental Age and ADHD
Parents are guided by the calendar age of their kids to set expectations for them. When your child has a neurodevelopmental disorder like ADHD, that societal wisdom points your compass too far north. Kids with ADHD are two to three years behind their peers in maturity and in other developmental markers. Age-appropriate expectations are then two to three years ahead of their capability. It’s so important...
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posted: Friday March 27th - 11:59am

Remaining Calm in the Face of Chaos

The stress of parenting a child with ADHD is heavy enough without the added discord of constant yelling.

Parenting Skills: How to Stay Calm with ADHD Behavior
I have been writing about ADHD since my son was diagnosed in November of 2008. Actually, since a few months before then, although I didn’t know it was ADHD at the time. One of the most common questions I am asked is, “But how do you stay calm when your child is out of control?” It isn’t easy, that’s for sure. Remaining calm in the face of...
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posted: Tuesday March 10th - 9:00am

Mother of All Meltdowns: “My Son Tried to Hurt Himself”

Sometimes a mom of a special needs child can offer only a safe haven and wait out her child’s emotional storms.

Parenting Teens: ADHD and Emotional Control
It was a balmy March afternoon. My son, Ricochet, had not been in school for a week. An ice storm froze our town in place several days earlier. He had four snow days this week already. While Ricochet thinks every day should be a snow day because he doesn’t like school, the monotony of being home for so many days weighed heavily on us all. I...
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