Fire Child Water Child by Dr Stephen CowanA few weeks ago, I travelled to Miami to hear Dr. Stephen Cowan talk about his new book, Fire Child, Water Child: How Understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Attention, which was released on April 1st (lucky me, I got an advance copy of this page turner!). In the book, Dr. Cowan opens up a frank discussion about ADHD that treats children as unique individuals in a holistic approach instead of offering a one-size-fits-all treatment plan.

This is a breakthrough book, and everyone should read it—not just parents. I don’t know about you, but when I see a movie or read a book that moves me, I want to tell everyone about it! Well, here I am doing exactly that!

Dr. Cowan is a really interesting guy, and I was as fascinated with his seminar as I was with his amazing book. He’s warm and fuzzy, yet scientifically brilliant. He’s also a pediatrician, licensed acupuncturist, and author who is a true believer in merging Eastern and Western medicine. As an alternative medicine practitioner, I love it!

After the seminar, Dr. Cowan was kind enough to let me interview him about his groundbreaking book. Read on for the inside scoop on Fire Child, Water Child:

MP: What is the message in your book?

SC: Attention is our greatest gift. But when we are insecure, we often pay attention to the things that make us feel more secure—whether it’s movement or talking or daydreaming—and there’s no time to develop the kind of “big-hearted” attention that is our inheritance.

Realizing that ADHD is a symptom, not a disease, is a radical shift in understanding the current epidemic. Simply treating symptoms is dangerous medicine because it does not get at the root of the problem. The heart of Fire Child, Water Child lies in the fact that there are five types of ADHD not one or two. Children who struggle to pay attention in certain settings are telling us something about their nature and that setting. It’s time we stop blaming the victim.

The message in this book is that parents and teachers are not the problem; they’re part of the solution. At the same time, I teach children how to empower themselves so that they are no longer victims of circumstances. This lies at the core of my approach in Fire Child, Water Child.

MP: When did you first realize you wanted to write this book?

SC: In my first years of practice I became frustrated with the one-size-fits-all medicine I had been taught. While conventional Western medicine is great at treating emergencies, I found that quick fixes simply don’t work in most of the problems I encountered in daily practice. This is particular true for neurodevelopmental problems. I felt that parents needed a more practical, yet personalized, guide to understanding their children’s strengths and challenges.

MP: How did you come up with the title of your book?

SC: The name Fire Child, Water Child is taken from the five-phase model of Chinese medicine that I adapted for my work with children. Fire and Water represent the two polar extremes of the five aspects of our nature: Fire – Wood – Earth – Metal – Water.

I also liked the title because it was a secret dedication to my two children, one a Fire child, the other a Water child.

MP: What has been the best compliment you have been given about your work?

SC: Of course, the greatest compliment comes from the parents of the children I see who have been transformed by the approach laid out in the book. When a mother or father suddenly sees their child in a new light and their hearts open to compassion, they often realize exactly what their child needs in order to grow and thrive in this world. Every time a parent thanks me for this, I am grateful for the work I am doing.

MP: Do you have any advice to give?

SC: It all boils down to this: When we honor our diversity as human beings, we empower the world. Each child has something to offer. When we discover how to transform our children’s symptoms into strengths rather than simply suppressing them, they have the opportunity to develop confidence and find fulfillment in their lives.

MP: Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?

SC: I learned how to consolidate and edit the material I have collected over the years so that it is accessible and easy to use for parents. This book is not a cookbook with strict recipes. It offers many different things you can do with your children to help them find confidence and develop their attention.

MP: What dreams have been realized as the result of your writing this book?

SC: That more parents, teachers and clinicians now have access to my approach that has been road-tested over the past 20 years in my practice.

MP: If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

SC: Honor your child’s nature, and they will become your teacher.


Fire Child, Water Child: How Understanding the Five Types of ADHD Can Help You Improve Your Child’s Self-Esteem and Attention can be purchased on Barnes and Noble and on Amazon, and it’s also available as an e-book.

About Dr. Cowan: He is a fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics, a member of the AAP section on developmental disabilities, a member of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture, and a clinical faculty member at New York Medical College. He has lectured internationally and currently practices in New York. Find him on Facebook.

Chime In: How do your honor YOUR child’s nature? Tell us in the comments below.


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3 Responses

  1. I tried to honor their individual natures by homeschooling and letting them follow their learning interests to a great extent (they also did have to fulfill certain requirements). When a curriculum was not working for them we had the flexibility to change. That solved a lot of the problems that a one-size-fits-all approach in the classroom can cause.

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