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Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential
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Smart but Scattered: The Revolutionary "Executive Skills" Approach to Helping Kids Reach Their Potential

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,239 Ratings  ·  134 Reviews
Scientists who study child development have recently found that kids who are "smart but scattered" lack or lag behind in crucial executive skills—the core, brain-based habits of mind required to “execute” tasks like getting organized, staying focused, and controlling emotions. Drawing on this revolutionary discovery, school psychologist Peg Dawson and neuropsychologist Ric ...more
Paperback, 314 pages
Published January 2nd 2009 by The Guilford Press (first published November 24th 2008)
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Jul 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kim by: Diane Hinves
Shelves: parenting
I initially thought this book would be helpful in parenting kids with ADHD but it is really an excellent resource for parents of typically developing children as well as those with deficits in their executive functioning skills. I really should buy it as a reference. After reading it I finally understood something our psychologist had tried to explain to me previously - that attention and emotional regulation are linked. You use the same part of the brain for each of these skills so when you wor ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Parenting is a project, and you're just not given all the skills you need to do the job. Complicating that? The fact that as those kids get older, they start needing help developing some particularly sophisticated (executive) skills. What's worse? We're not all rocking five-star perfection ourselves in the executive skills department as adults. Also: it's really (REALLY) hard to know sometimes just how well-developed these skills should be at any given time, or how to help coach them to have tho ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still not sure I agree with the premise that school age children with executive skills deficits can really master them with just the proper training. Seems to me you can improve on some behaviors outwardly, but that personality and maturity level account for a lot more of what executive skills your child has mastered and can master.
That said, this book provided some interesting insights and some very good ideas for how to help most kids get back on track. For certain behaviors, the improvem
Apr 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents of most kids, but especially those who are "scattered" or emotionally sensitive
I didn't actually finish reading through all the techniques and examples at the end of the book, but I did read most of them. I'm going to call this one finished and use it as a reference as I need to.

This book really opened my eyes about how to deal with my daughter, who is NOT ADHD. I realized that I had been setting unrealistic expectations for her. Unfortunately, we have similar weaknesses, which makes me a sometimes ineffective coach. However, even realizing that has helped us find coping a
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got this book to help my son with his organizational skills. The best part of the book for me was that the author broke apart the executive functioning skills into deeper categories; time management, working memory, emotional control, these were just a few of them. There were checklists to determine which of the categories you (or your child) were weakest or strongest for you.
It seemed that my son had 3 categories that were the weakest: I plan on working on those more.

Some of the ideas and strat
Jennifer Hughes
At what point do you take something off your "currently reading" list and mark it "read"? I finally decided to after not picking this up for over a year! My pediatrician highly recommended it, but it wasn't as helpful to me as I'd hoped.

I'm pretty organized and logical myself, but *I* felt scattered as I read this book. Don't get me wrong, it has a lot of great elements. I just think many of us parents with ADHD kids already feel pretty overwhelmed with the daily issues we have to deal with. A b
Jason Griggs
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would recommend this book for all parents. The scope is much broader than the title and blurb imply. The book covers ages 4-14 and covers many different situations, such as behavior during play dates, getting along with siblings, overcoming anxieties, getting dressed independently, time management for long-term projects, and many more. The strategies are not just for children with an attention deficit.

I already owned the Audible version of this book, but I purchased the softcover version too f
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: career
This book is geared primarily toward parents rather than teachers. I would love to see the authors write a teacher version of this that focuses on school situations. The concepts are transferable, of course, but it would be beneficial to discuss academic issues in terms of executive functioning. A worthwhile read for parents and teachers.

Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How is it that all the good parenting books have to point out all that dysfunctional with the parents first!!??!! After I fix all my executive function weakness maybe I can be a more perfect parent-bah hahaha. Actually it's pretty good, lots of examples and strategies, helps break down the different exec functions and how they help and hinder and how to strengthen the weak ones.
I listened to this and now my husband is reading it. I think this might be a book worth owning.
Nov 15, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
The main idea of the book is that children who don't turn in assignments, don't clean their rooms, lose their belongings, etc., often do so because they suffer from executive skills deficits. Consequently, telling them to try harder, yelling at them, punishing them, and so on simply won't work: the children don't have the skills to do what you're asking. You need to solve the problem by teaching the skills instead of just getting mad about the symptoms of the problem.

Unfortunately, the authors f
Dec 31, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I had heard wonderful things about this book. Unfortunately, I found it underwhelming. My expectations were too high, I expect. The author makes very cogent and straightforward recommendations for parents to help guide their children in how the children can learn to manage the tasks in their lives (such as homework and chores). Everything Ms. Dawson recommends is logical and I believe her methods work. I just think they are extremely obvious.
I think I'm too scattered myself to implement the plans very well, but it gave me some good insights and general strategies for helping my kid with some of his challenges.
Sep 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not just for kids with ADHD. There's some good information. A lot of good old fashioned common sense stuff. The true test is to see if I can integrate it into our routine
Kari Byrd Toth
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-it-already
hands down the best parenting book I've ever read. realistic approach to teaching kids and preparing them for the future. everyone should read. what a great resource!!
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of what is in this book I already knew, vaguely, and some of it I had already put into practise. However, it was helpful to get a more in depth look at different areas of executive functioning and understand the why and how of it a it better. There were also a few useful tips and interesting perspectives in there that might change how we see some of the difficulties kids have in these areas. The questionnaires, checklists and sample plans were fantastic concrete examples of how it might loo ...more
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book very accurately describes my 7 year old. I was able to gain some great insight into the specifics of where she is struggling and how to help her. We've already implemented a few strategies and have found them helping our daily lives a lot. I do feel like the skill specific chapters were a little too specific. They only focused on a couple situations in each skill and nothing else. But the broader chapters are what really helped me.
Amy Beckhusen
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
helpful resource to dip into as a parent and a teacher!
Starla Nichols
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
seems like this would be very helpful to some people.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An invaluable book if a child in your life struggles with ADHD.
Bonnie Smith
May 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an amazing book! I have read it three times over the course of 8 years. I needed it to understand several of my children. In the process, I learned to communicate with and help them better, and I learned so much about myself. A must-have for any parent or educator who wants to understand how to redirect and strengthen executive functioning weaknesses.
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked what they were saying, and a lot of it made sense, but it was hard for me to get into. Didn't finish it all.
Cheryl Rose
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very helpful and practical.
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sách hay, nhưng hơi khó đọc vì có những đoạn khá dài dòng (đặc biệt phần đầu), cũng như cách trình bày thiên về học thuật dù đối tượng hướng đến là những bậc phụ huynh có con gặp phải những vấn đề rắc rối trong quá trình phát triển. Sẽ rất có ích nếu con của bạn mắc phải những tình huống, cách cư xử khiến bạn điên đầu mà không biết nên làm như thế nào. Sách bao gồm những bảng chấm điểm để bạn hiểu được vấn đề hay kỹ năng con bạn còn yếu, cũng như gợi ý khá tỉ mỉ phương hướng giải quyết cụ thể.
Amy Griffith
Feb 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book was fine. I borrowed it from the library based on a review I'd read on a blog, and it was a different book than I was expecting. I was hoping for a book that would give tips on helping children to develop executive skills as they grow (time management, task initiation, etc.), but the book is focused more on helping children who are behind in these areas and need extra help. Since my children seem to be on level in most of these areas, it wasn't really the book I was hoping to read, but ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: education, 2014, 2017
I will admit, that I have only just finished reading this book, and haven't implemented any plans yet, but I can see that this book is going to be really helpful. It's good to see that certain behaviors are due to a lack of skill, so instead working on a specific problem (like a bedtime routine), it's nice to see skills that are being developed--which gives a better approach to each problem when you can identify the root. For example, instead of "my child won't do their work" you can identify th ...more
Skylar Primm
I read this book for my Professional Development Plan, based on the expectation that mindfulness will help students strengthen their executive skills (i.e. “brain-based skills that are required for humans to execute, or perform, tasks” (p. 13)). It was recommended to me by a colleague as a possible source of ideas for other interventions aimed at executive skills.

I ended up skimming through quite a lot of the text, which is aimed at parents of children aged 4 to 13 and thus contains a lot of con
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book for helping your kids overcome some of the problems that make getting through the day really challenging. From getting out the door in the morning, to getting started on chores or homework, to controlling their tempers and keeping peace with the siblings, this book has very simple, straight forward strategies for helping kids develop the skills that help them be and feel successful in life and in school. I plan on getting started with an intervention tomorrow, and once my da ...more
Hilary Roberts
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
(Note: I forgot to enter this immediately when I finished, so I don't remember it as clearly as I wish I did for reviewing purposes...) This book gives a number of "executive skills" (such as being organized and being able to stay on task) that make it so people can function in life. Everyone has strong skills and weak skills. Several quizzes are provided (one for each of three age groups) to determine which skills your child is lacking. The books talks about how each skill is developed and ways ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is full of great ideas for ways to try to remedy attention, motivation, organizational and independence issues in children of all ages. The ideas are common sense and emphasize participation of the child in planning but require motivation, attention and commitment on the part of the parent as well. This book has helped in our household to establish routines and expectations. If anything, the book helped me to realize that my child is not necessarily an outlier and that some of his beha ...more
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Peg Dawson, Ed.D., received her doctorate in school/child clinical psychology from the University of Virginia. She worked as a school psychologist for 16 years in Maine and New Hampshire, and, for the past 18 years has worked at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she
specializes in the assessments of children and adults with learning and attention di
More about Peg Dawson...

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“The idea is that there are three opportunities to take measures to elicit or change the behavior as desired: by changing what comes before it (the external factors, or environment), by aiming directly at the behavior itself (through teaching), and by imposing consequences (incentives or penalties).” 0 likes
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