We need help, but can’t do coaching!

This is why I created Becoming a Chaos Free Family.

Becoming a Chaos Free Family (BCFF) is a learning series and support environment specially designed for parents of children with ADHD and executive function deficits.  This is the same type of parent behavioral management training recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics as a standard part of a comprehensive ADHD management plan.

The Good News
Not every ADHD family is in crisis; they just need things to run smoother in their lives.  This means they don’t need an intensive coaching engagement to help their child or change the dynamic in their home.  They need basic, up-to-date information about ADHD and some simple strategies to help their child perform better.  BCFF condenses this information into short lessons you can access on your own schedule.

The Better News
Parents don’t have to feel alone in this search for calm.  The standard BCFF course with Group Support option ($249) comes with 1 year’s access to weekly support calls.  Daytime and evening calls are scheduled to accommodate the busiest of families.  Join when you need clarification on your lessons or advice for how to implement your strategies.  You can even join to learn from how other parents are doing it!

The Best News
The optional Plus option ($649) provides private support for parents who struggle with their own executive function issues and who might need a little extra accountability.

Become a Chaos Free Family today!

Mary Smith Has Been Selected as a Top Remote ADHD Coach by SOAR

SOAR recently recognized Encouraging Development’s founder Mary Smith as one of its Top 60 Remote ADHD Coaches in the U.S. for Teens & Parents.

SOAR is a non-profit that provides outdoor adventure programs for ADHD and LD students. It runs three different programs throughout the year, including a Gap Year program, summer camp, and accredited boarding school.

The list of remote ADHD coaches was created by SOAR to support those in the ADHD community who may not be able to meet in-person with a coach right now due to the requirements of social distancing.

Selection Criteria

In choosing coaches for the list, SOAR used the following criteria:

  • Coaches have been vetted by the ADHD Coaches Organization (ACO), the ADD Association (ADDA), or another reputable ADHD organization, or the coach has been personally vetted by the SOAR team
  • Coaches are available to work remotely
  • Coaches have demonstrated a commitment to helping people of various ages—and especially parents and teens—with ADHD/ADD to live better, more fulfilling lives

Mary Smith’s Commitment to ADHD Coaching

In addition to the criteria listed above, Mary was chosen for SOAR’s list of top remote ADHD coaches because the SOAR team was impressed by her personal journey. 

Diagnosed with ADHD herself late in life, at the age of 35, Mary has learned how to live and thrive with a condition that many find debilitating. Not only that, she has taken the lessons she learned for herself and translated them into practices for others living with ADHD, which she imparts through her coaching.

SOAR was inspired by her story, and wanted to recognize her accomplishments by including her in its list of top remote ADHD coaches.

How to Find a Good ADHD Coach—3 Things You Should Do

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for an ADHD coach (or any coach, for that matter):

1. Is It a Good Fit?

One of the most important factors when looking for an ADHD coach is whether the two of you click.

The success of a coach often comes down to the power of the relationship between the coach and the person being coached, so it’s important for there to be a strong connection between the two people.

When you start out looking for a coach, it’s a good idea to ask for a short interview so you can see whether a particular coach might be a good fit. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that coaching is a two way street—in order for a coach to be successful, the person being coached has to be open to doing the work required for change, which means showing up for each coaching session with an open mind, ready to work and grow.

2. Training, Credentials, and Experience

It’s also important to consider a coach’s experience and training. 

Although there isn’t a single universally recognized certification for ADHD coaching, there are some key things you can look for, including whether the coach has been trained by a recognized ADHD organization like the CHADD, ADDA, or ACO, and how many years of experience the coach has working with ADHD clients.

You can also look for whether the coach has been vetted by one of the organizations we just listed by searching for him or her on their websites to see if they’re listed on the site’s directory of coaches. 

Being included in one of these directories is a good indication that the coach has met the criteria required by that particular organization for inclusion in their list of recommended coaches.

3. Ask for References 

Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to one or two of a coach’s clients as references.

Speaking to people who are already working with a coach is a great way to gauge whether that coach may be a good fit for you.

Want to learn more about what ADHD coaching can do for you? Reach out and set up some time to talk to Mary right now

Are You Listening?

Here is the scene: Your child is playing a video game or watching TV and you ask them to do a small chore.  You come back 15 minutes later to discover HE IS STILL SITTING THERE and the chore has not been done!  What are you suppose to do?

Instead of using traditional parenting wisdom and concluding the chore is not done because your child is lazy, unmotivated, and CHOSE not to mind you. Let’s break this down and see what went wrong.

First, your child is engaged in a very stimulating activity which is sucking all of the focus out of his brain.  Just because you walked through giving instructions, didn’t mean his brain was ready to hear them.  Transitioning from a focus-sucking activity to start another (like doing a chore or coming to dinner) is tremendously difficult for a child with ADHD.  Allowing your child adequate time to make that transition will often result in a better connection with your child.  It will also result in fewer incidences of emotional responses like crying, tantrums, or eye-rolling.

Second, pay attention to how you are delivering the instructions.  Are you just barking out orders as you pass through the room?  Are you downstairs yelling at them upstairs?  You have to focus on making a connection BEFORE giving instructions.

Third, you have to check for understanding.  You don’t have to make them repeat your instructions (what a drag).  Just hang around for a second to see your child stand up and head towards starting your request.

Finally, let your child know he was successful.  A simple “thank you” can be quite motivating for the next time.

So, briefly:

  1. Allow for a focus transition.  I like giving a 2-minute warning for the child to find a stopping place. Then I come back in 2 minutes with my request.
  2. Make the connection.  Wait for hands to be still and eyes to be on you before giving instructions.
  3. Wait for physical engagement. You don’t have to loom over your child, just hang out and see he is headed in the right direction.
  4. Say “Thank you”.

You can learn more strategies like this in my parent behavioral training class “Chaos Free ADHD: The Parent Sessions”


My (ADHD) Child is so Immature!!!

“My child is so immature.”  I hear it a lot from parents in my Coaching Discovery Sessions.  It often comes at the end of their list of reasons for coming to coaching.  “He is unorganized, she misses or forgets assignments, he doesn’t complete tasks, and MY CHILD IS SO IMMATURE!

Well, yes.  Your ADHD child IS immature.  That is exactly what ADHD is: a delayed maturity of the brain’s infrastructure including the parts used for executive functions* like attention and self-control.  If your child is one of the youngest in his grade, he may appear even more immature.

Here is the encouraging news.

Your child’s brain is developing normally. It’s just developing at a slower rate.  Some researchers say this development gap can be as much as 25%.  So, when you think you are working with a 10-year-old, that child could be operating at the emotional or executive functioning level of an 8-year-old.

Your child can still exhibit a high degree of intelligence. In fact, most kids with ADHD rank very high on IQ tests (when they can sit down and finished them, lol). Don’t confuse a child’s abilities to understand complex academic problems and use high-level vocabulary in conversations with her ability to accept “no” as your answer to “Can I have ice cream for dinner?”

What you can do?

Stop comparing your child to other children, especially to siblings.  Figure out where your child is today and work from there.  If it is a life process he hasn’t mastered, break it down and re-teach it to him.  If it is an inappropriate behavior, talk to her calmly and show her what a proper response looks and sounds like.

Reframe your perspective.  When you feel your child is acting immature ask yourself, “How would a child 2 years younger act in this situation?”  I am not advocating letting your child act inappropriately, I am asking you to check the level of “appropriateness” at which you are expecting them to act.

Be patient.  On some level, your child is aware of the development gap.  They realize they are getting in trouble when other kids aren’t.  They realize they can’t do things that other kids can.  They also realize they don’t seem to have any control over this.  Encourage your child.  Let them know their time for learning these things is coming and, until then, you will be there to help them any way you can.

Let me know what you think about this in the comments below.


*Executive functions are those special processes needed to accomplish a task.  They include response inhibition, working memory, emotional control, sustained attention, task initiation, planning/prioritization, organization, time management,  goal-directed persistence, flexibility, and metacognition.

Hello Again, Watch

March 6, 2018.  What a happy day for me.  Today is the day I return to wearing a watch.  Maybe it doesn’t sound that magnificent to you but, to me, it symbolizes a victory over my time management issues.  It also symbolizes how creative coaching solutions can mean so much to those who struggle.

Flashback to 2000, I was 35 years old and constantly late to EVERYTHING.  I told my therapist I was so ashamed of not being able to get anywhere or do anything on-time.  I would wake up early and get ready early.  Then, I would look at my watch, my lovely moon phase watch, and say, “I have plenty of time” and promptly start another task – which of course made me late!

“Sounds like looking at your watch is actually making you late,” my therapist said.  I was dumbstruck.  Was she actually suggesting that the device responsible for keeping me on time was really at the root of making me late? I would like to say I received this question in the spirit of the curiosity with which it was intended.  I did not.  Instead, I questioned my therapist’s qualifications and state of mind.

Her question nagged at me.  What if she was right? What if I didn’t look at my watch? That’s crazy.  No, what if I still got up early, still got ready early, and then didn’t look at my watch?  What would happen?  Well, it turned out I was so enamored with my watch I couldn’t not look at it!  So, I took it off and put it in the bathroom drawer.

The first weeks were a bit rough but, I stopped trying to do that “one more thing” before I left.  And, I started to be on time.  And, I began to feel responsible.

Four months ago I was cleaning out that bathroom drawer and found the watch.  It took a new battery, a new movement, and a few months at the Citizen factory to get it running again but, I think it was worth it.  I was brave enough to set it aside and get my time management processes securely in place.  Now, I am brave enough to put it back on and see how I do.  I’ll let you know.

(Yes, that is a picture of my watch.)

“Encouraging News”

Welcome to my blog.  Welcome to my world. Welcome to the Encouraging News about life with ADHD.  My primary mission is to get the word out…

You can live chaos free with ADHD!

I want my blog to challenge the perspectives people have about their child’s ADHD, their own ADHD, and ADHD in general.  I have found in my coaching practice that, often, a change in perspective can be the most effective agent of change and motivator for success.

I want my blog to educate people on effective techniques to overcome the unique challenges of ADHD.  I want to serve adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD equally.  So, whenever possible, techniques will be presented with age-appropriate variations.

Finally, I want my blog to create a community of “people like us”.  It can be lonely when those around you don’t understand you.  In fact, I hope the comments will be plentiful enough for people to see they are not alone in facing their ADHD.  I will be posting the small successes my clients’ experience and highlighting how stringing them together can build into a major achievement.

Take heart.  In the world of ADHD, the is truly some Encouraging News!