Friday, August 9, 2013

Words of Encouragement

by Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC

One of the best things I learned from coach training is that you can’t make someone else act or think in a certain way. You can only model good behavior and be a good example. Ultimately, each person has to take ownership for his or her life. So whether you are addressing your spouse or your child with ADHD, don’t attempt to mold them like clay. It doesn’t work! Besides, you can’t wave the magic brain-changing wand and make ADHD symptoms go away. But there is one thing you can do: You can encourage people and build them up.

Words can build up or they can tear down. Words that tear down can be internalized and may falsely define who another person is. Words that build up may inspire another person to greatness. Discouraging words also can alienate and result in communication breakdown and lack of trust.

Encouragement goes straight to the heart, however.

Knowing what a big difference encouragement has made in your own life, how can you be an encouragement to those in your family? Here are some tips:

  1. Be aware of what encourages you and do the same for others.
  2. Write your spouse or child a note with words of encouragement.
  3. Always be specific when you offer praise: “You did a great job at _____.”   “I really appreciate that you _____.”
  4. When you see positive changes in the other person’s life, affirm that person: “You really seem to have a great attitude about _____.”
  5. If encouraging thoughts come to mind, share them with your family.
  6. We all make mistakes, so look beyond fault. It may just be an opportunity for you to teach that there is much learning to be gained through failure.
  7. Remember that most people may not reach their potential without someone believing in them and taking the time to tell them so.


Terry M. Dickson, MD, ACG, CPCC, is the founder and director of The Behavioral Medicine Clinic of NW Michigan that has served and supported children, adolescents, and adults with ADHD for over eleven years. He has been a principal study investigator for several clinical ADHD medication trials. A Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, he is a graduate of the ADD Coach Academy and the Coaches Training Institute. Diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, Dr. Dickson speaks regularly on ADHD and has been interviewed locally and nationally on radio, television, and CHADD’s Ask the Expert online. Dr. Dickson and his wife of 32 years have two teenage children, both of whom have ADHD.


  1. Hi, this is exactly what I need to do a lot more of to help my family, instead of directing and ordering them around. How much more encouraging words can make a difference and bring blessings, instead of criticizing... Bible verse that says to "Encourage one another daily" is crucial in building others up. Thank you and I will share this with my friends.

  2. Our son is in crisis mode, there is no concern for hurting himself at all. He’s fine in that regard and just had a friend sleep over last night. Anyway, I have a call in to Highland Park, IL. Hospital for an outpatient assessment. I truly believe he has some other disorder than just ADHD. He is hypersensitive and can become extremely angry over small things. I just don’t know how to parent him anymore. He is on Focalin XR 20 mg and I am thinking his issues may partially be that, but also something else. Finding him the correct Psychologist that specializes in ADHD has been tough and also, he needs a new Psychiatrist for his meds. I need a second opinion. I feel he needs mood meds and some sort of non-stimulant rather than Focalin. My marriage is in major distress over this and I feel that no one understands and i don’t have much energy left to keep trying to figure this out myself. My job is being affected and everyone can tell something is very wrong with me. I have adhd myself and am very tired. thank you