Introducing “Ten Tips for Parents”


As I settle into my role as the editor for parent resources here at Mad in America, I’m reaching out to folks who have something to contribute to the conversation and asking them if they would be willing to condense what they know into a Ten Tips format for easy digestion and comprehension.

The first four are now available. Tim Carey, an Australian clinical psychologist and the director of Flinders University’s Centre for Remote Health in Alice Spring, Australia, presents ten essential questions that parents who want to parent in healthier and more effective ways can ask themselves. Among them are “How often do you let your children be?”, “Do you admit it when you’re wrong?” and “Do you ask questions rather than give commands?” You might think of Tim’s contribution as a brief refresher course in good parenting.

Drs. Sarah Parry and Filippo Varese present the findings from their Young Voices Study in an easy-to-use Ten Tips piece called “Ten Tips for Parents of Children Who Hear Voices.” They write: “Over recent months, we have been hearing from young people who hear voices and from their parents/guardians. As we’ve previously discussed, hearing voices is by no means unusual during childhood and an experience that some young people find helpful and comforting in times of stress and difficulty. As well as talking to young people, we have heard from parents from the UK, Norway and Australia about their experiences of supporting their children, seeking help from health services and how they have come to make sense of the voices their children hear.” If you are parenting a child who hears voices, this is a must-read Ten Tips piece. And it will also prove interesting to other Mad in America readers.

Our third Ten Tips piece is from Maureen Healy, whose mentoring programs help parents and children worldwide. Her piece is called “Ten Tips to Help Children with ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’.” Whether or not you believe that there really is some pseudo-medical “disorder” that deserves the diagnostic label of “oppositional defiant disorder” (and I don’t), you will find Maureen’s tips, for example praising small steps of cooperation, focusing on problem-solving, and partnering with your child, very useful.

In “Ten Tips for Helping an Explosive Child,” Dr. Ross Greene, author on many useful books for parents including The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings, shares his top ten tips for helping an explosive child, among them how to help children whose skills do not currently match what is expected of them.

You can access these pieces here:

Top Ten Tips for Parenting

Ten Tips for Parents of Children Who Hear Voices

Ten Tips to Help Children with “Oppositional Defiant Disorder”

Ten Tips for Helping an Explosive Child

I hope you enjoy these offerings and find them useful. If you’d like to suggest someone, either yourself or someone else, who might be able to provide a useful Ten Tips piece, by all means let me know (and, if you can, provide me with contact information for that person). These can be “experts” or “experts by experience”—that is, I’d love to hear from parents and from children-who-are-now-adults as well as from professionals. You can send that information to me at [email protected].

Please enjoy this Ten Tips series!


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


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  1. Edited my original comment after reading the article more thoroughly.

    Okay, so you gave addressed the concept of not labelling children with such a label.

    The next frontier is to convince some of these mental health workers to deal with these kids without labelling them as such and calling something what it is.

    The Ten Tips article about ODD, with the MadInAmerica label still carries statements such as:

    1.) “The number one situation I see is that children diagnosed with ODD feel grossly misunderstood and once they’re better understood their need for defiance goes way down.”

    Isn’t it better to say some children feel grossly misunderstood, while other children are indeed misunderstood?

    2.) “Children with ODD get angry easily ”

    Isn’t it more truthful to say that some children get angry easily and that in some cases this anger may be unjustified and in some cases pretty justified?

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    • That is an excellent point! A lot of kids are “oppositional” to things that don’t make sense, or they are generally opposed to being bossed around arbitrarily. When given more control of their environment, they seem oddly enough to be a lot more cooperative.

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    • i think this is a very appropriate point. I had some misgivings about posting this 10 tips piece for exactly these reasons, but i felt that the good points perhaps outweighed its use of “diagnostic language.” I intend to be more careful in the future. i agree that all pseudo-medical mental disorder diagnosis language ought to be avoided. Thanks for the reminder!

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  2. My point in writing that is not to spread vitriol, nor to prevent people from helping those kids. My point is, at least, MadInAmerica should promote the non-use of those words amongst mental health workers who work in association with it. That is how change starts.

    Or was that PDF on “oppositional defiant disorder” made to appeal to the more conventional masses as a matter of expedience and not principle?

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  3. It is a shame that “Developmental Trauma Disorder” was not added as a condition in the DSM-5. Bessel van der Kolk and others lobbied for this with the committee and they marshaled a lot of support, such as that from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, who serve 6.1 million people annually.

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  4. Hi Eric,

    as the husband of a wife with d.i.d., the ultimate voice hearing from trauma, I’ve been trying to think of what I would advise parents to do so that SO’s like me aren’t stuck trying to figure out how to undo 40+ years of neglecting the trauma.
    1) I would suggest the parents validate the voices. Learn to accept what the voices are saying whether or not what they are saying is ‘rational’ or ‘reasonable’. Sometimes healing comes just from ‘saying the unmentionable and unsay-able’. But it’s also learning that validation of what is being said doesn’t mean validating the accuracy of the statement. It’s more about validating the child so that they feel ‘heard’. If only my in-laws had ‘heard’ their daughter when the abuse was going on even if all the particulars weren’t exactly accurate. But too many times we adults worry about specifics rather than grasping the underlying meaning and the power of HEARING someone’s plea to be heard!
    2) If the voices desire it, ENGAGE them. When my wife’s insiders began to heal, so much of it came from being engaged by me and our son on the outside. It’s not creepy or weird when I talk with the 8 different girls, using 4 different voices all emanating from my wife’s mouth. It may feel a little odd at first, but I allowed my wife’s voices (insiders) to show me what they needed in their relationship with me, and I got used to it rather quickly.
    3) Engagement and validation will NOT cause greater separation long term, though it might in the short term. Too often I hear the argument that ‘if you engage the voices, you’ll make the separation greater.’ What I have learned with ALL 8 girls, is that there is, indeed, a temporary, greater separation that occurs as that part of my wife’s clings to me for love, safety and healing, but then there seems to be an irresistible pull for each of the girls to be interconnected and she is now better integrated than most people I know who have no history of trauma.

    Anyway, I learned to enter into my wife’s world when I validated the voices. I didn’t try to refute them. I engaged them on their own terms, and then slowly I walked with them to a more healthy place as they connected with each other.

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  5. Eric’s email address cited above came back as undeliverable. Fairly annoying:
    “The following recipient(s) cannot be reached: ‘[email protected].’ on 9/18/2017 9:36 AM
    Invalid recipient”

    This is what I tried to email to him. Can’t attach the .pdf here.
    Hello Eric –
    Thank you for working on this MIA series. I’ll be sure to follow it. For starters, Tim Carey’s list of questions was very good. It put me in mind of Stanley Greenspan’s irreplaceable list of children’s irreducible needs (book by that name & p. 1 of the document attached).
    Elise Bon-Rudin, Ed. D.

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