I have coached a lot of kids with ADHD toward success in school and beyond. Parents often ask why I am able to help their children learn skills and strategies when they have tried to do the same thing for years. In my experience, the biggest single difference is that I step back and guide my clients in a supportive and non-judgmental way. This is not always easy for a parent to do, and honestly, it was not always easy for me. By incorporating coaching techniques with my knowledge of ADHD, LD and related issues, I have created a coaching model that works! Here are some tips from my coaching playbook that parents can use to help their kids succeed at school.
- Understand Your Child’s Learning Style
How does your child learn the best? By seeing, hearing or doing? We all have a predominant learning style, the one that allows us to learn most effectively. Most parents tend to use their own learning style when communicating with their children. Adapt to your child’s learning style when making a request, helping with homework, or trying to get their attention. It does make a difference!
Visual learners benefit from seeing written instructions and think best on paper. They need to look at you when you are communicating, so face to face interaction is most effective.
Auditory learners benefit from verbal instructions. Calling your child from the office to check in by phone can be helpful. Review homework aloud with your child, even when you are at home and ask your child to repeat back the instructions and homework plan.
Kinesthetic learners benefit from writing down your instructions and varying activities for optimal learning. I learned early on that kinesthetic learners work well with rolling office chairs or big exercise balance balls instead of a straight chair at the kitchen table. Moving around while talking or listening enhances the ability to learn.
- Use Effective Communication Techniques
Effective communication with children starts with asking open-ended questions. These questions help to show your child that you do not have a particular agenda and that you are interested in hearing whatever it is that your child wants to share. Be curious and non-judgmental. Here are some examples of the kind of open-ended questions that you might ask your child. I use them with my students every day and the results are excellent!
“What was the best part of your day?”
“By when do you expect to start your homework?”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“What could you do differently next time?”
“How might I support you in your effort?”
- Avoid “WHY” questions
“Why” questions tend to put our children on guard, making them less willing to share information; and can lead to an argument. Instead of asking your child, “Why didn’t you turn in your homework?” shift your question to “What will help you turn in your homework next time?” or “How will you remember to turn in your homework?”
- Create structure at home
We know that transitions are difficult for children with ADHD, whether from computer time to homework or from the weekend to Monday morning. By creating a structure, you provide an opportunity for your child to learn what will be taking place each day. This reduces the transition issues and makes for a calmer environment. Create a list of activities and routines with your child. What needs to be done in the morning/evening? In what order do things need to be done? For example:
7 PM Complete homework
7:30 PM Backpack ready and by the door
7:30 -8:30 Screen time
8:30 – Get ready for bed
9 PM – Bedtime
Use a family calendar to show all appointments, sports practices, vacations, school projects, birthdays, etc. for the month.