Helping Your ADHD Child Win the Homework Battle

Getting homework assignments done can be a huge struggle for kids with ADHD. It is important as homework problems are often a reason kids with ADHD fail in school. However, with some planning, you can help make homework less of a struggle for both you and your child. .… READ MORE

Homework battles

8 ways to combat ADHD Perfectionism

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Have you ever said, I might as well not try, I won’t be able to do it right anyway? Or how about, my work on this project really sucks, I’ll just hide it under my bed and forget about it. … READ MORE

From frustration to focus

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Do you worry about your child’s grades?  You aren’t alone.  Every week we are contacted by parents desperate to find help for their child. He’s flunking in school.  She’s so disorganized she can never get a paper in on time so her grades don’t reflect her ability.  He’s unmotivated by rewards – even paying him for A’s doesn’t seem to help.

A common focus of concern for parents is grades.  And no doubt your child carries a lot of internal stress about his or her performance in school – whether she admits to it or not.  But we’d like to suggest that this focus on grades is a distraction from helping your child see what she needs to do to take charge of her life.

We believe an ADHD coach can help make the difference in your child’s life and we have the research to prove it.  We encourage you to put yourself in your child’s shoes and think about what does motivate him or her.  School performance is a means to an ends, it is important, but not the only thing that measures success.  After all, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates both dropped out of college to passionately focus on their dreams.

We’re not suggesting dropping out is the solution, but we are encouraging you to shift your focus to what inspires your child, what are his or her dreams and what is holding them back from success.   Overcoming these obstacles is the focus of coaching.

Motivating your child

  • It’s not your job to get your child a coach.
  • You can’t force him to call.
  • You can’t tell him what to work on in coaching session.
  • You can’t sign him up.

What you can do is help your child envision the possibilities that coaching will open up for her.

Coaching isn’t about fixing her.  It isn’t a tutor, therapist or mentor.  It’s unlike anything she’s ever tried before. A coach is your child’s partner in helping him accomplish his goals (not yours).

Coaches help the students they work with decide what they want to achieve, develop a plan to accomplish those goals and take the steps needed to reach their dreams.

An ADHD coach should not be a punishment

Instead of saying “Your grades better come up next term or you’ll have to get a coach,” we suggest focusing on your child’s point of view.  Think about opening up the channel for conversation with your child and trying some conversation starters like:

  • What is most challenging for you right now?
  • What frustrates you most about your life?
  • What are you struggling with?
  • What do you envision for yourself after you graduate?
  • What are your worries?

Your child may not want to talk to you about these issues.  And that’s okay.  It’s an important part of their development to want to tackle these issues on their own.  But you can still counsel and guide them towards a coach.  After all, a coach isn’t a punishment, a coach is a resource to help you set goals, learn new skills and hone the edge you need to make your dreams come true.

The Edge model of coaching has been proven to be effective at improving students’ abilities to study and succeed in school.

The Edge model of coaching has been proven to be effective at improving students’ abilities to study and succeed in school.

The Edge model of ADHD coaching:

  • improved students’ approach to learning
  • increased students’ well being and led to more positive emotional states, and
  • is highly effective in helping students improve self-regulation, study skills and will.

The Edge model of ADHD coaching improves executive functioning

Students who received Edge coaching showed:

  • substantial gains in their overall approach to learning,
  • significant improvement in their ability to organize, direct and manage cognitive activities, emotional responses and overt behaviors,
  • increased ability to formulate realistic goals and consistently work toward achieving them
  • more effective time management skills, and
  • improved ability to stick with tasks even when they found them challenging.

The impact of Edge coaching was highly statistically significant:

  • Improvement in self regulation was more than double for that of other educational interventions.
  • The improvement on executive function was quadruple other interventions.
  • Research findings with effect sizes that large (i.e. double and quadruple other interventions) are rare.

The number of ADHD students dropping out of high school and college is alarming. Close to 30% of students with ADHD will drop out of college. With the Edge model of ADHD coaching, ADHD students don’t have to be “at risk” students.

How to exercise –ADHD Style

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When it comes to exercise keep these tips in mind:

  • Set up a game plan with your coach to make exercise a priority in your life.
  • Try a bunch of different exercises and pick the ones that work best for you, whether that be weight training, yoga, walking, etc.
  • Switch it up! Don’t get stuck in a rut with your workout, have fun with exploring new things.
  • Making exercising a social event. Instead of going to happy hour or to a movie suggest going on a scenic walk or kickboxing class with your friends.
  • Make your commutes into exercise by walking. Make sure to switch up the routines to see new things and keep you interested.

When you have ADHD it is especially important to have exercise be part of your life. Remember that exercise boots brain function and releases endorphins, which give you the feeling of well-being.

What exercises have you found to be the best for you? How have you seen your performance at work or school change in relation to you activity level?  Please share your experience in the comments.  Or join the discussion on Facebook.

Overcoming the challenges of ADHD

The upside of failure and ADHD

Editor’s Note: How often do you feel like a failure? If you’re like most of us, plenty of times. Now how many times have you celebrated your failures? A great moment about the positive side of failure is in the cartoon, Meet the Robinsons. When our hero spectacularly fails to fix an invention, his friends aren’t mad, instead they celebrate. For, as they explain, without failure, you never learn anything. This week’s guest post, by Edge coach, Gayla Wilson, digs deeper into the myth of failure and encourages us to view “failures” as bumps in the road towards success.

Fail it Forward

Is it possible people who have not failed are people who have never gone too far…never gone far enough? What side of the coin do you fall on? The “I have failed side” or the “I played it safe side.”

How can we ever know how far we can go unless we are willing to fail? Playing it safe requires us to live inside the boundaries of our limitations. A diagnosis of ADHD can mean a limitation of too few neurotransmitters (the thingies that help us focus and concentrate). This doesn’t mean we have to live inside this limitation. We can manage this in several ways; education, coaching, medication, exercise, diet and therapy just to name a handful.

You know the game we all play sometime; “What would you do if money were not a concern.” I ask my coaching clients “What would you do if you knew you would not fail.” When we strip away the “yeah, buts,” “if onlys,” “shoulds,” “I can’ts” and my favorite “I tried that and it didn’t work” what do we have left?

I can. I will. I am.

It takes great strength and courage (an “I told you so” occasion for the nay-sayers in your life, real and imaginary) to consider the possibility of failing. To know in your heart you might fail and then decide to take the plunge and do it anyway. Anis Nin said, “Life Shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” What will it take for you to feel courageous?

A life of unmet potential is easier and less painful.

Those of us with ADHD have had our fair share of bumps in the road. Sometimes we settle for a life of unmet potential because it is just plain easier and less painful. Henry David Thoreau’s famous quote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” describes it well. Thoreau sought to learn to live deliberately and without resignation. He did not want to discover that he had not lived. Bob, my husband, has quoted this passage many times to me over the years. It has become his mantra, a reminder, as he learned to move through his daily challenge with ADHD. Like many adults diagnosed late it life Bob has had his fair share of bumps.

Many of us have learned to rely on the strategy of defensive pessimism. This strategy anticipates a negative outcome and then we take steps to avoid that outcome. Not necessarily a bad strategy, but certainly a limiting one. Yes, we must learn from our past mistakes. The learning and wisdom we gain from those mistakes guides our future…fail it forward, get it? As we side-step our way to the comfortable use of the word failure we can live firmly in the present. Fail, learn, grow, and succeed.

Want to think on this topic some more? You might also be interested in https://edgefoundation.org/blog/2009/07/14/adhd-is-it-a-good-or-bad-thing/.

How do you view failure in your life?  Do you agree that you can’t learn if you don’t fail?

Be Kinder to Your ADHD Self

Be Kinder to Your ADHD Self

Editor’s note: This thoughtful and much needed reminder was written by Edge Coach, Ellen Cohen, JD, MBA, ACC. Click here if you are interested in working with Ellen as your ADHD coach!

This New Year…Be Kinder to Yourself

Like most people with ADHD, you probably spent most of this past year traveling at warp speed managing challenges or putting out fires.  A picture of a juggler juggling one more ball than he can comfortably handle comes to mind.

It can be helpful to keep the following thoughts in mind when you look back at the year:

Everyone faces organization, planning and focusing challenges

Many of my clients with ADHD, if they are late or forget to use their planner, beat themselves up over it.  They assume that these types of mistakes never happen to my “other” clients.  I am here to tell you that they do happen to everyone.  It may happen more frequently to my ADHD clients but every one of my clients has had similar experiences.

And the wonderful thing about a misstep is that it provides the opportunity to take a positive action!  You can figure out what to do next time to avoid the same result.  Or learn to laugh when it happens.   So be kinder to yourself when you reflect on those pitfalls that occurred in this last year.

It is getting harder to organize, plan and focus these days.  Of course, having ADHD makes certain tasks harder but there are many reasons why more and more people are feeling less and less in control of their lives.

Acknowledge 21st Century Challenges

Some food for thought:

  • We are all bombarded with messages…voicemails from work and personal cell phones, and from those dinosaurs, land lines, as well as emails, faxes, texts, school portals, etc.
  • Working adults for the most part are fending for themselves.  They no longer have the luxury of having an assistant to organize their lives.  They are expected to schedule, keep and follow up on all their appointments, as well as prepare and file their own documents.
  • Students are inundated.  In their wonderful book, The Organized Student (2005), Donna Goldberg and Jennifer Zweibel mention how, in the past few years they have noticed that there is more school work, more flowing paper and the school days are more fragmented.  And if that is not enough, most have a crammed after school schedule that varies from season to season.
  • The internet provides hours of distraction that even the most well-intentioned student or worker can find hard to resist.  Honestly, do you know anyone who flips on the computer and gets right to work?

Once again, this is a good opportunity to take positive action…to learn new techniques to navigate the minefield that we call daily life in the 21st Century.  That you recognize these challenges and have developed tools or are developing them…then bravo!  You deserve to pat yourself on the back.

Year-end is a good time for reflection

Spend time reflecting on all those things you accomplished and did right this year.   You might be thinking that you really didn’t do anything special this year.  I guarantee that if you take the time to think about it, you will see that you have accomplished quite a bit!

Maybe you used your planner most of the time or were on time more than the year before.  Perhaps you made a new friend or learned to let go of the little things.  You might have developed more patience or become less judgmental.  You may have learned a few new helpful strategies or gleaned a few more insights into how you work best.

Celebrate those accomplishments!

A new year is just around the corner waiting for you to embrace it and to continue moving forward one step at a time.  Have a great New Year!

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Ellen Cohen holds both an MBA degree and a JD law degree. She received coach certifications from the College of Executive Coaching and ICF, the worldwide coaching organization that established guidelines for coach conduct and ethics.  She has taken the JST Coach training for teens, college students and children, 8 -12 years old.  Prior to coaching, she saw many with ADHD who had struggled with school and work.  As a coach, she has found she can make a real difference. She is passionate about helping clients experience less stress and more success in their lives.