ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning Coaching Moment…The Enabled Child

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic /

I just started working with Sarah. She’s a college sophomore at one of the best schools in the country. However, she is very ADHD and has gotten through school being smarter than everyone else. Her work habits are quite poor. She will wait until the last possible moment to finish assignments with many sleepless nights. In high school, she was able to have her mother call her out of classes until these assignments were completed. Obviously, this strategy doesn’t work in college.

Let’s start at the beginning of this whole issue. Sarah’s mother has enabled her daughter. As I’ve learned, there are probably additional things her mother has done to compensate for her daughter’s needs. Parental involvement can be a blessing and a curse. Being involved in a child’s life is important, but being a regular life-line is a curse. This doesn’t allow the child to develop his or her own coping strategies and the child begins to rely on a parent’s Executive Functioning skills. It doesn’t go away so quickly. Think about it this way…if you feed an animal it will keep coming back for more. The day you don’t feed the animal anymore, it will struggle to survive in the wild because finding its own food was a skill the animal didn’t need. Not that are children are exactly animals, but the less skills that he or she needs to develop the less he or she will actually develop those skills.

Sarah wants to perform better, but she has no idea how to do so. Every idea we discuss is difficult for her to conceptualize. I’ve began to break things down to the basics. Despite her intelligence, this isn’t easy. She resists help because she doesn’t know any better. As she regularly says…I am not going to do that or I do not understand how this will help me. But after discussing with her the root of the problem, she sees the bigger picture. She has embraced one idea and is running with it. She returns to college in a few weeks, so I want her to perfect her system before implementing it. My guess is if she doesn’t have it down well, she will avoid doing it.

My advice to any parent with a child that has ADD, ADHD or Executive Functioning concerns is to not enable your child. It is the easiest thing to do, but it will hurt him or her in the long-run. Allow your child to fail once in a while…it is one of the best teaching methods available to your child.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit To learn more information about some of the other services I provide, please visit and I can be found on Twitter at ADHDEFCoach. You can also find me on Facebook and Tumblr. My good friend and fellow ADD/ADHD Coach Tara McGillicuddy invites me as a regular guest on ADD/ADHD Support Talk Radio. Tara does many wonderful things and you should check out her website here. Feel free to email me at or call 773.888.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.


  1. […] like homework and chores on a daily basis is frustrating and defeating. It also leads to a parent enabling a child by easing expectations or creating excuses for the child’s failures. I had one mother lie […]

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