ADHD & The Focused Mind

A Guide To Giving Your ADHD Child Focus, Discipline, & Self Confidence

As a young boy, his difficulty in concentrating was diagnosed as ADHD. 

In school, his mind always seemed to wander until he found an activity that he liked. 

By using that one activity, his mother was able to teach him to focus and develop self-discipline. 

Debbie Phelps found a way to reach past her son’s ADHD―and that young boy, Michael Phelps, went on to win twenty-two Olympic medal and break thirty-nine world records in swimming. Now the principle that guided Debbie Phelps’ approach is the subject of this breakthrough title. Written by three experts in their fields―a pediatric neurologist, a psychiatrist, and a martial arts instructor―ADHD & the Focused Mind provides a complete program for instilling the ability to focus in both children and adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. 


Medication is NOT the only way to improve the behavioral challenges of an ADHD child: There are non-medication strategies that help children with ADHD without any medications at all. For others, these non-medication strategies are combined with medication for the best solution. As a parent you have a key role to play: You can work with your child to improve his behavior. In this book, we will show you simple techniques that you or a seperate ADHD coach can use to help your child become a high achiever despite a diagnosis of ADHD.



The ideas in this book are easy to understand and simple to follow. They will resonate with your child because they are based on the athletic mindset. Most school-age children have already acceped this mindset as a standard part of sports practice, but even if your child does not participate in sports he will have been exposed to these ideas through routine participation in gym class or sports at a camp, or other organizations.

Once your child realizes that the same ideas he has heard again and again and readily accepts from an athletic coach apply equally to the rest of his life including academic and other achievement challenges of ADHD, he will open his ears and listen. As a simple example, if your child with ADHD and wandering eyes is told that “keep your eye on the ball” applies not only when he is actually hitting a ball but also when he is listening to other people communicate, he will be more ready to accept and act on that advice than if he is instead given the same critical feedback in a more usual form: “Hey, look at me when I’m talking to you!”


And the Winner Is . . . ADHD & THE FOCUSED MIND!

Posted: 2017/06/26 Garden City Park, New York: Square One is proud to announce that it has won another Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) announced at their annual awards ceremony during their Publishing University event (held this year in Portland, Oregon).

ADHD & The Focused Mind (Square One, $17.95 USD) is the book that brought home the gold for Square One in the "Best Parenting & Family Issues" category; no coincidence, given the book's central emphasis on the same focus and self-discipline that Olympic medal-winning legend Michael Phelps was taught by his mother, Deborah, when he was diagnosed with ADHD as a young boy. Twenty-two Olympic medals and thirty-nine broken world records in swimming later, it seems safe to say that Phelps' life and incredible level of achievement to date has been served wonderfully well by this important and child-specific approach.

Written by husband-and-wife MDs (Sarah Cheyette, MD and Ben Cheyette, MD, PhD) who joined forces with martial arts master instructor Peter Johnson, ADHD & The Focused Mind is designed specifically to help explain for readers the core basics of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), including its common signs and what researchers have discovered about it. The book's remaining chapters detail the components of the authors' own program for dealing with ADHD, including its principles, its goals, and the practical ways in which these goals can be achieved. The authors recognize that all children are different, so the program has the flexibility to work within a child's own particular comfort level while still attaining the necessary level of focus. The book then concludes with a discussion of medications for ADHD, and how to decide what's right for your child.


Publishers Weekly
This fresh and practical approach to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) from neurologist Sarah Cheyette, karate teacher Johnson, and psychiatrist Ben Cheyette offers an alternative to medication (though meds can be used in tandem with it) and emphasizes sports analogies and practices such as teamwork and "playing to win." The authors suggest viewing ADHD less as a disorder and more as a different way of processing information: kids with ADHD have trouble focusing on topics that aren't of great interest to them, and often have difficulty with organization, productivity, and concentration. The book contains a plan to help children improve focus and set S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-defined) goals. The authors also point to the Japanese concept of kaizen, meaning "continuous improvement." A section on mind, body, and spirit reveals how keeping all three in balance can enhance goal achievement. The authors offer strategies that can be implemented at home and at school (for example, exercising before settling down to a stationary task). A section on finding "ADHD coaches" is also included. Parents and kids will find plenty of useful ideas in this innovative, "athletic mindset" approach to tackling ADHD. (Feb.)


Library Journal (April 1, 2016 issue)

Cheyette, Sarah others. ADHD & the Focused Mind: A Guide to Giving Your ADHD Child Focus, Discipline & Self-Confidence.
Square One. 2016. 260p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780757004148. pap. $17.95. PSYCH

Pediatric neurologist Cheyette, martial arts teacher Peter Johnson, and Ben Cheyette (psychiatry, Univ. of California, San Francisco) share what they have learned about helping children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus and become disciplined in achieving their goals. They do this by applying the mind-set and training regimen of successful athletes and their coaches, which combine concentration, goal setting, and planning behavior and strategies, aiming to meet the long-term goals by attaining smaller ones along the way. The authors begin by looking at common signs of ADHD and the ADHD brain. Following are chapters outlining the program, as well as how to work with your child to establish and reach meaningful objectives. The schedule is flexible, recognizing that every child is different. The option to use or not use and effectiveness of various medications are discussed as well. The authors note that the recommended course requires practice, repetition, and consistency as well as celebration when goals are met. VERDICT Filled with resources and further reading to assist parents, teachers, and coaches, this manual will aid those with ADHD to learn to hone their attention skills in ways that will be familiar to those who enjoy and participate in sports.— Lisa Jordan, Johnson Cty. Lib., Overland Park, KS


New book uses coaching techniques behind top-tier athletes to help children with ADHD

August 17, 2016 - 11:54am

By Nicholas Roznovsky

As millions of schoolchildren head back to the classroom in the coming weeks, many of them will return having been inspired by the performances of top Olympians such as Simone Biles, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps. These world-class athletes are proof that anyone can reach the pinnacle of their field with the right combination of skill, determination, and a laser-like focus during training and competition.

For Phelps, that intense focus always came naturally in the swimming pool. It didn’t, however, come as easily in other aspects of his life. Diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child, Phelps faced a Herculean challenge before capturing 28 medals and becoming the most decorated Olympian in history—staying focused in school.

His mother, observing how his single-minded determination in the pool helped him excel at swimming, channeled that concentration and effort into his schoolwork. By setting goals and allowing him to visualize his future accomplishments, Deborah Phelps was able to keep her son focused on his schoolwork and other facets of his life throughout adolescence.

The ability of Phelps and other world-class athletes to stay focused on the task in front of them is a trait that can be developed and harnessed to promote success by anyone—even those with ADHD—according to the authors of the new book “ADHD & The Focused Mind: A Guide to Giving Your ADHD Child Focus, Discipline & Self-Confidence.”

Written by neurologist Sarah Cheyette, MD; martial arts instructor Peter Johnson; and UCSF Associate Professor of Psychiatry Benjamin Cheyette, MD, PhD., the book aims to provide parents with an easy-to-understand approach to changing their children’s mindset and behavior by introducing simple, powerful concepts to keep their child motivated.

“Just as athletes improve their athletic skills through proper coaching and training, ADHDers have mental skills that they can improve through proper coaching and training,” the trio explains. “Both ADHDers and athletes need to identify challenges, set goals, and train hard with a coach. A person with ADHD who does this can break away from a cycle of underachievement or outright failure to become a world-class success story.”

Although “ADHD & The Focused Mind” uses athletic training as a framework for introducing important concepts, the book is not intended to just be a resource for helping athletes with ADHD. Children with no interest in sports whatsoever can improve their ability to focus, reduce their tendency to procrastinate, and cultivate their planning skills by developing the same mindset as competitive athletes, the authors state. Through narrative examples and short exercises, the work lays out the components of the athletic training mindset that can be applied to help anyone minimize distractions and increase attention spans through mindfulness and mental coaching.

In addition to providing strategies that can be used at home and school, the book also offers an explanation of the basics of ADHD—its common behavioral symptoms, the biology behind it, and what research has revealed about it. The authors also examine the issues many parents consider regarding prescription treatments, as well as the potential benefits and side effects of many common ADHD medications.

“ADHD & The Focused Mind” is now available from Square One Publishers online at and at local bookstores nationwide.



About The Authors

Dr. Sarah Cheyette is a physician who specializes in pediatric neurology and treats ADHD medically. She has been in private practice since 1998. She has seen many children and adults with ADHD, and feels that while medication can sometimes be helpful, the non-medication strategies outlined in this book  are always helpful and may be the most important component of successfully treating ADHD. 

She met her coauthor Peter Johnson while training in a form of kickboxing called Tae Bo® at his dojo, and additionally watched him train her kids in Karate, and was very impressed by how he has motivated all kinds of people to work hard to meet their full potential.  She realized that the ideas that a coach routinely instills in his athletes can also apply to the treatment of ADHD, and she would like her ADHD patients and others to be able to internalize these strategies to be the most successful they can be.

Sarah’s husband, Dr. Benjamin Cheyette, is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, where he sees patients, teaches medical students and psychiatric residents, and runs a scientific laboratory exploring the molecular origins of psychiatric illness. 

In his clinical practice he has treated patients with ADHD, including professionals who qualify for this diagnosis. He is also a black belt student of Peter Johnson, and has witnessed the transformative power of successful coaching strategies on goal-setting, focus, and achievement in the dojo—as well as the generalization of such strategies beyond athleticism to other spheres of life.


Karate master Peter Johnson is a seventh-degree black belt in Karate and also a master of Tae Bo®. He has been teaching students in the martial arts since 1993. Over time, he has seen the number of his students diagnosed  with ADHD rise, accompanied by a rise in the frequency of inquiries from parents and school counselors interested in Karate as a way to help kids with ADHD build “mental discipline muscles.” Indeed, martial arts have had a dramatic effect on the lives of many people with ADHD (based on statistics from the National Association of Professional Martial Artists on the positive scholastic benefits of karate in children’s lives).

Peter himself has seen many of his karate students shift from having lackluster academic performance to achieving honor student status. Peter’s philosophy is that martial arts is not simply about acquiring physical skill, but more importantly is about acquiring a drive for excellence in all areas of life. Along these lines, Peter is also an ultra-endurance athlete and runner, and he uses personal lessons he has learned in that setting to help his students feel fully engaged in the moment.

You can learn more about Peter's dojo on his site:

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