Coaching ADHD Families

“Families are like ecosystems,” says Caroline Maguire, President of New England Coaching Services and Founder of the Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families (a family coaching program) at ADD Coach Academy. “ADHD kids, teens, and young adults can’t thrive without family support. Coaches cannot help just one piece of the family and expect the kid to flourish. Every element is interdependent.”

According to Maguire, the problem with most coaching programs on the market today is that they were originally designed for adults and fail to address the unique needs of children, teens, and college students. Coaching youth one-on-one often takes place in an office setting without establishing external support systems. This approach is not an effective way to initiate change, Maguire explains. “Kids with ADHD need scaffolding and support systems that extend into every area of their lives. That’s why family coaches do not work with the child; they work with the whole family.”

Maguire, who has ADHD and dyslexia, attributes much of her success in life to her parents. “My parents were really supportive. When I was a senior in high school, I had a really low SAT score. I froze in the middle of the SATs because I couldn’t do the math under pressure. The time limit really stressed me out, and I didn’t even finish the test.” When Maguire’s test scores came back, they were markedly low, especially in relation to her academic achievements at the time.

“My academic counselor basically told me that I should just apply to all my safety schools and call it a day,” she recalls. But Maguire wasn’t okay with that. She had her eye on some prestigious universities. When she told her parents she wanted to retake the test and apply to her dream schools, they were fully supportive.

“I remember that my parents had to meet with the school counselor, who was upset I was aiming so high, and they basically told her, ‘Our daughter is not a statistic. If Caroline thinks she can apply to these schools and get in, then she can, and we’re going to support her in any way we can.’”

Maguire immediately signed up with an SAT tutor who worked specifically with students with learning differences. To pay for the tutor, her father delayed fixing his car, which had been smashed recently in a car accident. “He drove around with a duck-taped window for six months,” she recalls.

During the whole process, Maguire’s parents also gave her a lot of verbal support. “They’d say things like, ‘You are very strong and talented.’ And, ‘You are smarter than the test; you can do this.’ Even though I had absolutely no history of doing well on standardized tests,” Maguire laughs.

When Maguire got her scores back, she was thrilled to see that they had gone up 300 points. She got into every school she applied to. “If parents believe in their kids and support them in the ways they need, they can succeed,” Maguire says. “That success was just the beginning for me. Whenever I faced something that seemed insurmountable after that, I told myself, ‘I did this once, and I can do it again.’”  

Many parents and teachers haven’t been taught the best ways to help kids with ADHD and similar learning differences. In fact, Maguire has seen many well-meaning parents and teachers unintentionally undermine the work coaches have done in the office—which is why she developed the family coaching program.

The family coaching program is a comprehensive program that teaches coaches how to successfully coach kids, teens, and college students (ages five to twenty-five) and their families. The program uses executive function skill-building activities and interventions to help kids learn to cope with ADHD, but it also shows coaches how to train parents, talk to schools, and create scaffolding so that kids have the best chance at developing necessary life skills.

“The program is geared toward the whole family,” Maguire says. “In fact, many parents get diagnosed with ADHD as a result of their child’s diagnosis, and they are able to get the help and resources they need as well. When families go through this program, everyone’s lives improves: the child, the parents, and the siblings.”

“There’s a huge need for family coaches right now,” adds Maguire. Her own practice, New England Coaching Services, has at times had a two-year waitlist. And the Hallowell Center—where Maguire started off her coaching career—also has had an extensive waiting list. “There’s just not enough of us to go around.”

For over a decade, Maguire has helped ADHD children, teens, college students, and their families, and now she is hoping to spread her methods to a wider audience. “The best part about my job is that I get to see these children grow and develop into highly successful and happy adults. But I can only see so many clients, and I want others to have the same success.”

In addition to the Family Coaching Program, she is releasing a book in 2017 entitled, Why Will No One Play with Me? A Parent’s Guide to a Socially Happy Child. The book shows parents how to help their kids tackle social challenges that arise from having ADHD or other executive function deficits. The book is replete with tools, lesson plans, and worksheets that parents can use with kids so they don’t have develop a coaching plan from scratch.

Caroline Maguire, PCC, also holds a M.Ed. in education from Lesley University with an emphasis in early childhood development. During her time at Lesley, she spent four years researching and studying the effects of executive function skills training on children with social skills deficits. “My number one goal has always been to help as many families with unique children as possible.”

Because of her expertise, Maguire has been featured as a speaker at various national conferences, universities, and hospitals, including the International Conference on ADHD sponsored by CHADD, Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA) Conference, Champlain College, Emerson Hospital, and many others. Currently, Maguire is also a long-term guest host for Attention Talk Radio and the Chair of the Revenue Generation Committee for the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA). But seeing children succeed is still what fuels her drive to spread her coaching program and motivational message across the world.

“People with ADHD don’t have to struggle, and families don’t need to feel helpless,” she says. “Now, there are tools to help.” 

Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. (New England Coaching Services), is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and their families. Caroline earned her ACCG from the ADD Coach Academy and her PCC from the International Coach Federation (ICF). In all of her spare time, Caroline is the chair of ADDA’s Revenue Generation Committee and a member of the Executive Committee for the Board of Directors for ADDA.


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    1. Reply

      My child has ADHD and it’s really hard to control. I didn’t know that you could get coaches for it! It would be nice to have a coach who can help him out as well as help me know what to do.

    2. Reply

      I agree that for ADHD coaching to work the whole family has to be involved. ADHD is very serious and requires the help of all the members of the family. Like you said, it is important to make sure that the coaching program is designed for either a child or an adult depending on who is receiving the counseling.

    3. Reply

      I never thought of using family coaching to help a child with ADHD. I like how you mention that every element of a family is interdependent and we need each other to succeed. I loved hearing this person story and seeing how the support of the family can change a child’s educational experience. Thanks for sharing this!

    4. Reply

      I’m so excited to star the parent and family program with Caroline next month!

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