A Motivational Approach Toward Success

I hear parents of young people with ADHD say things like the following all the time: “If he cared about getting A’s, he would study for his tests,” or “He says he wants to clean his room, but then he never follows through. He just doesn’t care.” Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right? When someone is motivated to do something—when a person wants to do something—the person will go ahead and successfully accomplish his or her goal. This is a premise that many of us operate on, regardless of context. I have learned over the years, however, that for young people with ADHD, having the will to do something is not always enough. These young people may have all of the will and desire in the world to accomplish something—what’s called motivation—but lack the skills needed to get from Point A to Point B. So they may appear unmotivated to the rest of us when really they just don’t know how to proceed. And for those who do lack motivation, it’s not simply a matter of these young people not caring. Something is actually happening in these young people’s brains (their neurobiology) and likely their life experiences, too, that makes motivation difficult, if not impossible. Through a three-pronged motivational approach (detailed in Chapter 6), young people with ADHD can begin moving forward in their lives, implement changes, make progress toward their goals, and experience success, often against a backdrop of months or years of past frustration. A rewarding cycle of motivation, progress, and success often ensues, in which motivation leads to progress and success, that success then fosters more motivation, which then leads to more progress and success! When this cycle gets put into motion, it’s very exciting for coaches, parents, and other professionals to observe.