Coaching the ADHD Child


"What would you suggest for coaching an 11-year-old? Do you think that children this age are developmentally ready for coaching?"


I work with ages 13 and up, as I feel that this is when individuals are ready to begin making decisions for themselves about managing their time and prioritizing their needs, both academic and personal.

Up until that age they have needed to rely on parents and teachers to provide external structure for them to manage. With the onset of puberty and the natural desire to become more independent, it is the perfect age to begin focusing on life skills that will make them more self-reliant and better able to create their own systems for becoming structured.

Younger children certainly need to begin developing these skills, too. I believe that coaching can help them to accomplish this, yet I think the way in which it is done is somewhat different. My approach when working with a teenager is of course somewhat different than working with an adult. I think the same is true for coaching children. I believe the main difference to be a much more directive approach, which is contrary to the nature of coaching in general. As a coach, I facilitate my clients in making choices, yet I never choose for them. I only make suggestions when they are stuck.

Obviously with children you would be mostly making suggestions and directing them in their choices. Whether or not younger children are ready for coaching may be debatable, but they are ready for learning time management and organizational skills. I also believe that it is important for children to learn how to set goals at a very young age. The experience and satisfaction of accomplishing a goal is beneficial for all ages, both young and old.

Even if the child's goal is something as simple as making their bed each day, a great amount of satisfaction can be gained from achieving that goal, especially when it is recognized and appreciated by those they love and look up to.

Sandy Maynard lives in Washington, DC where she operates Catalytic Coaching. She was instrumental in the development of The National Attention Deficit Disorder Association's Coaching Guidelines and a founding board member for the Institute for the Advancement of AD/HD Coaching (IAAC). Sandy lectures internationally and is a regular contributor to ADDitude.
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