Posts Tagged ‘ODD’

PostHeaderIcon What It’s Like Coaching Parents

What It’s Like Coaching Parents: Traveling Further Upstream

I often get the question, as do we all, “What do you do?”  I realize now that people are asking, “What difference do you make?” or “What can you do for me?”  So I thought I’d write about my life as a parent coach, to give you a window on what I can do for you, or those with whom you work.

It all started when my middle son proved to be a fabulous, smart, adorable boy who also gave me a run for my money. He asked a thousand questions each day, and often didn’t like being told what to do. I found my way with him, stumbling often, but he grew up to become a wonderful person. (There’s a ton of hope!)

I became a school psychologist, inspired to make school a pleasant, or at least not harmful, place for kids who struggle with learning disabilities, emotional/behavioral disturbance, ADHD, ODD, grief, autism, giftedness, and a variety of other situations.  I had had a less-than-nurturing school experience as a kid, and was determined to change that for others. I kept thinking about what it would be like to be in school 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, and feel like you were always failing and not fitting in.  It was that feeling that kept me going in behalf of kids, to make each day one where they were welcome and accepted.

Then it dawned on me: “If I could go upstream a bit more, and get to the adults who love and care for these kids, we wouldn’t have to have so many evaluations for emotional/behavioral disturbance.”  Who better to do this work of bringing out the best in children than their own parents, who love them, have the most invested in them, and are there when the children need them the most?  Inspired, I hung my shingle as a parent coach and prayed.

That was 2000, and now I have a story to tell!  Each year since the beginning , I have had the enormously gratifying experience of helping parents look further upstream for the reasons behind their children’s behavior, and help them understand how to create peace in their homes.

I went on to teach at my graduate school alma mater, UW-Stout, to train parent coaches through my own business, and then to certify coaches at Adler Graduate School, where I continued to develop more ideas for making parent coaching work the most effectively, to comfort the hearts of parents and children alike.

If your child is being defiant (usually it’s pain being expressed) we’ll explore the reasons, employ insight, adjust the interactions, and see the defiance melt away.  When your child is oppositional, we’ll uncovered the particulars (she needs more self-efficacy, and to be seen and heard) and watch as she blossoms into the loving kid she was meant to be.  When he’s acting depressed and withdrawn (often unexpressed grief), we’ll help him grieve his losses directly, and witness miraculous recovery.

Yes, I think this is the best job in the world.  There is simply nothing like helping parents to heal their own child.

To date, I’ve trained nearly 500 others to coach parents and have been privileged to watch them work their magic with families. I love my position as the Director of Family Engagement at Center for the Challenging Child/Anu Family Services, where the other coaches and I work with Treatment Foster Care parents, bio parents, and kin. These are the most hurt kids, who have been moved from home to home “because of their behavior” (read: unexpressed grief) and we’re finding the same amazing results.  Working with parents who are not in the child welfare realm has been profoundly satisfying, as well. How much job satisfaction can one person have, I ask you?

My heart is full, full, full as I reflect on this incredible journey from mom of an intense and wonderful kid, to a school psychologist, to college and grad school instructor, to parent coach and trainer.  I can share this great news with people, offer hope they never dreamed of, and watch them create miracles in their own homes.  Even thinking about the generational effect of coaching is fabulous … kids who grow up with Present Moment Parenting may just pass that legacy on to their children!

I’ve come to realize that it’s never too late for any child to benefit from their parents’ understanding of the upstream reasons for behavior, and ways to calm them.  Yes, 17, 18, and 19-year-olds can experience healing through their parents’ evolution.  In fact I’ve coached parents of children in their 20’s, 30’s and beyond!  The principles remain the same, the parent-child relationship continues to affect the child for years, and it can always be healed.  What a concept!

How can I help you with your child, or train your staff to do this powerful work?

For more information on healing hearts through parent coaching, click here.

For more information on parenting coach certification, click here.

For information on my speaking and training events, click here.

To check speaking availability, click here.

Thank you for the enormous privilege of serving your family or your staff in healing children’s and parents’ hearts.







PostHeaderIcon When Your Child is Diagnosed and You’re Not Sure What It Means

ADHD, ODD, RAD, ASD, SPD, … the alphabet soup of labels can be mind-boggling!  When your child is diagnosed and you’re not sure what it means, life can be so overwhelming and confusing.

What I find so often is that a parent will say, “My child has a diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety.  It’s driving me crazy that she can’t remember to pick up her clothes and her room is a mess!” My first response is often that these are signs of ADHD, which comes as a bit of a surprise to the parent.  Even though she has looked up the symptoms on the Internet, she hasn’t put two and two together – that right now she’s seeing the symptoms of her child’s diagnosis.  It’s trickier with mental health diagnoses than it is with physical ones. If your child has a rash, you can see the rash and you fully understand why she wants to scratch it.  You normally don’t call a parenting coach to say, “I don’t understand why she wants to scratch!”  But since the symptoms of ADHD, ODD, etc., are not in clear view, and since they are behavioral, it’s easy to jump to “bad- behavior-make-it-stop” than to reflect on the reason behind the behavior.

The other day I spoke with a parent whose child is grieving. She said, “The child is really clingy and we don’t know how to make that stop.”

Last week I worked with a family whose child has an anxiety diagnosis. The parent said, “He constantly asks when we’ll be doing every single thing, and it’s driving me crazy.”

A month ago I had a client whose child was diagnosed with giftedness.  She said, “She acts like she knows everything already, and challenges us at every turn. It’s exhausting just trying to get through the day.”

I recently spoke to a parent whose child has Sensory Processing Disorder related to taste and texture.  He said, “I can’t get him to eat the dinner we put on the table. Shouldn’t he just be grateful for a good meal?”

All of these parents love their kids and want the best for them. It’s just that when you’re in the thick of raising a challenging child, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really going on. Each of these parents, after gaining insights into the root cause of their child’s behavior, can reduce their own irritation with the child, who is simply demonstrating the effects of the diagnosis, not being disrespectful.

Once the irritation is reduced, understanding and compassion can come into play. Most parents want to be compassionate toward their children, but they don’t know how to navigate the behavioral aspects of the diagnoses without feeling like they’re “giving in,” which feels awful.  The last thing parents want is a child who thinks she can “run the show.” When your child is diagnosed, or even just suspected of having a diagnosis, this is a really tough spot to be in as a parent.

The good news is that parent coaching can help you see what you’re looking at, and to learn new ways of interacting that truly work and don’t involve “giving in.”

For a quicker view of how this works, read Present Moment Parenting: The Guide to a Peaceful Life with Your Intense Child.

Or if listening is more your style, get the book on Audible.

And as always, parent coaching is an option.  Don’t wait. You can be released from thinking you have to be the “heavy” with your child, and find ways to communicate that cause great harmony.  Sound good?  We think so, too.