Parent Coaching Case Study: Sharon, mom with ADD, children with ADD and ODD

Sharon has two children with behavior problems. Her older son, Avi, has ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder, and Avi’s younger brother, Ben, has ADHD.

When she came to parent coaching, Sharon was forthcoming regarding the work she had to do and the improvements she wanted to make as a parent, but had not been successful coaching her own self through this process – she had neither the support network nor the tools for success.

Parent coaching helped her to identify how her parenting style evolved and the factors that were supporting ineffective approaches to parenting. Sharon learned that her parent training developed from both of her parents, who had difficulty setting limits. Further, Sharon has ADHD herself, which made it difficult for her to set limits on herself or how to follow through on rules and punishments. Finally, she and her husband completely disagreed on how to handle her children’s destructive behavior that followed arguments when they did not get what they wanted.

Coaching helped Sharon to understand that she did not cause her child’s ADHD, and that she was not responsible for the difficulties that they were having. She learned that she could improve her relationship with them by taking stock of her own parenting style, which was permissive with intermittent tantrums which her children then repeated.

Through the coaching process, Sharon acquired the skills to communicate clearly and assertively with her children without losing her self -control. She learned how to give her children specific directions, minimize distractions when speaking with them, offer choices, and give specific directions. She became skilled at catching her children being good, noticing and rewarding positive behavior, and in administering appropriate punishments for negative behavior. In addition to acquiring these new tools, she began creating a daily routine with intermittent breaks for her children (and the whole family) to get exercise and be physically active, and implemented structured meal times and healthy nutrition, all of which improved each family member’s sense of well-being.

What was unique about the coaching relationship was the customized approach it offered Sharon. She could call or text me (her coach) when she needed help. She had homework assignments and a commitment to reporting to me daily. She enjoyed an individualized schedule of virtual coaching twice a week to trouble-shoot, create new goals, and support her and her family in their progress. Each time Sharon met with me she received an assignment targeted at minimizing inefficient and ineffective reactions to her children and to practicing new ways of responding instead of reacting to their behavior. We asked what worked, what didn’t work, and what she could do differently next time. We worked on peer relations, homework, academic work, and sibling relationships and communication at home with parents and relatives. Family relationships improved as did her children’s academic performance. Sharon went from having a helpless mindset to a proactive mindset, believing that she could turn any problem into a goal, and through the process of goal setting, practicing behaviors, monitoring results and getting feedback, she learned how to handle problems that arose.