Coaching Children with ADHD – Common questions from Parents answered

ADHD coaching for children is still a new idea for many parents so they have lots and lotsChildren 8-12 years old of questions. Here are a few of them along with our answers:

1. Does coaching work for kids?

Coaching can be successful with kids who have the cognitive ability to understand rewards and consequences.  The level of understanding varies by age and by the individual child. If the child can understand that completing a task, such as brushing teeth, will result in a sticker or token, a positive reward, it is possible to institute a coaching program.  Many times the coaching is most successful when the parents, families and/or school personnel are actively involved in the process.  The coach works with the child and with the “team” to design a motivational coaching program that will work.  It is important to find external motivators that work well for the child. 

2. How young can a kid start with a coach?

Chronological age is not always the best indicator for kids with AD/HD.  Kids with AD/HD may mature more slowly than their peers.  It is important to be sure that the child is ready to work independently with an “outsider”.  It is recommended that with young children, ranging in age from 5 to 8, that the coaching is done directly with the parents. In turn, the parents will implement the coaching plan and set the structures at home and at school.  If those supports are not effective, then seek out a coach with a background in education and child psychology.  Or choose a coach who has had positive experiences working with the age group in which your child falls. When the child is slightly older, it may be helpful to arrange for coaching sessions with both the parents and the child, separately and as a team.

3. Can coaching help my 3-year old?

Most likely not.  A child that young usually does not possess the language

needed to work with a coach.  He will most likely not be able to verbalize what is going on in his brain, let alone come up with suggestions for improvement.  Social skill building and behavioral changes tend to be a priority at this age.  Work closely with teachers and a child psychologist for suggestions on developing a structured support system.

 4. Can a parent be a coach to their child?         

A parent can be a good choice for coaching a young child.  The parent receives the coaching tips and support from a trained coach, and implements the coaching. The parent must be able to stick to the program and follow through in a consistent manner for optimum success.   For coaching of students age 12 and up, it is helpful to use an “outsider” as the coach.  It is difficult to play the role of parent and coach to a teen at the same time.

5. Can a teacher be a coach?                                                   

Yes, teachers can be coaches.  It is helpful to choose a favorite teacher or a former teacher from a prior year who knows your child/teen. If the teacher is not familiar with the process of coaching (versus tutoring), it might be helpful to provide some background information or hire a coach to work with the teacher for a few sessions.

Jodi Sleeper-Triplett
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Author: Empowering Youth with ADHD