Finding a great coach for your child with ADHD
Finding the perfect lifestyles coach for your ADHD child or teen isn’t as easy a job as you might think…and at the same time, you’d be surprised at the people you already know that make great coaches.
This, our third article in the series “Building self-esteem in kids, whether ADHD or not” deals with the characteristics of a great ADHD behavior coach. And as you read to the end of the article, you’ll understand where to look for a coach and how to pick the best one for your child with ADHD.
Between 14% and 17% of parents of ADHD behavior disordered children will choose treating their child’s behavior problem with this option-ADHD lifestyles coaching-instead of drugs or traditional cognitive behavioral training.
Why? Because parents are increasingly worried about putting their children on ADHD drugs that often have many side-effects and really don’t “cure anything!” Like yourself, these parents believe that training a child to recognize and manage his own behavior without medications gives the child a chance “to grow out of” or at least develop skills that let them control their ADHD traits by their late teens or early adulthood.
You have to respect these parents, as they are in it for the “long haul”. They aren’t asking for the quick fix. You know…the give the kid a pill to control his or her behavior fix. Unfortunately, many parents and teachers wait until it’s too late to use behavior coaching to change a child with ADHD’s behavior. Often these kids are on the brink of failing a grade or are in legal trouble…and yes, their parents and teachers want the “quick fix” for their behavior. These are the ADHD kids that more often than not, end up on stimulant ADHD medications.
For those of you who are willing to start earlier-when your ADHD child isn’t in trouble-isn’t on the verge of failing a grade-please let me help you define what I consider the characteristics of a great ADHD behavior coach
Your perfect ADHD coach is:
- Someone your child can respect and confide in. That means your child’s coach should not be a parent, a teacher, a brother, a sister, or any close relative or close-frequently seen friend of the family.
- A young adult or adult who has struggled with ADHD in the past and successfully defeated it or at least coped with it. This person may also have been the parent, grandparent, brother, or sister of an ADHD child who was successfully treated.
- A person who has the time and resources to act as an ADHD coach in person. ADHD coaching over-the-internet or by phone is by far a second-best substitute for the “real thing!”
- A person who excels in some facet of life in which your child is interested. For example, Boy Scout masters, Girl Scout leaders, football coaches, basketball coaches, coaches of most competitive sports, avid hunters, successful business women and professional executives often make great coaches. It is really important that whoever coaches your child has skills to teach him or her something that can be used to gain confidence and self-esteem. While fathers and mothers can do this to a certain extent, I assure you the impact on the child’s life will fall very short of what happens when someone outside of the family shows interest in your ADHD child.
- Someone who is willing to develop an individualized plan for helping your ADHD child or teen deal with the thoughts and emotions that are attached to specific behaviors. I advise parents to give this person a few ideas about their child’s strengths, weaknesses, and behavioral needs, but avoid advising the coach on how to best do his or her job. I’ve discovered if an ADHD child suspects his or her parent is directing every aspect of the coaching experience, coaching will likely fail.
In my next article, we’ll continue this series on “Building self-esteem in kids, whether ADHD or not” by discussing how to build a positive self-image in children and teens with ADHD.
Frank Barnhill, MD
In case you missed the first two articles in this series….
How to Build Self Esteem in ADHD Kids One
How to Build Self Esteem in ADHD Kids Two