ADD/ADHD & Executive Functioning Coaching…The Manipulative Child

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/

Clients with ADD/ADHD and Executive Functioning concerns love creating diversions from the matter at hand. This is where a lot of my work comes in with families…avoiding getting sucked into the battle of creating conflict to avoid conflict or in other words, arguing about everything under the sun except the matter at hand. An example of this is the kid that says he or she is too distracted from doing homework because he or she has to clear the table. This in turn creates an argument and the homework never get completed.

I love reflecting on my work through this blog. It helps me better reflect upon a session and think aloud with the rest of you. Of course, names and some details are changed.

On my regular Tuesday roster is Tony. He’s a bright kid but can forget to do even the smallest things. He then will drag things out and blame many different factors for why he’s not getting his work done including distractions at home, pressures of school, meeting with me, etc. Of course, these problems didn’t start yesterday. Plus, I do not think he’s helped by his very distracted parents (see the apple and the tree).

Tony just loves arguing. He’s an Olympic champion. But what Tony doesn’t often times realize is that I am onto his game. He can argue, complain, blame and not turn in work as much as he wants to play the role of victim, but the bottom line is that he’s not doing what is expected. Plus, his parents create consequences and then will lighten the sentence when Tony promises to do something or throws them a small bone.

I am dealing with two major forces at play; an extremely manipulative child and gullible parents. In this case, my work is starting with the parents. I believe that both have to be on the same page and create a list of expectations. If expectations are not met, fair and carried-out consequences are essential. Since Tony has been given wiggle-room in the past, he knows that things do not stick. The idea is that Tony will now realize that he his parents are going to stick with consequences and they mean business.

After I meet with his parents, it is time for the three of us to review the new rules and expectations. This meeting is always very tense. Clients will say that it is stupid and the rules make no sense. It is key that no matter how angry, frustrated or upset a client gets that the message is made loud and clear that business as usual is no longer allowed. The major key is that everyone remains on the same page. No matter what happens moving forward, there’s a regular and consistent set of rules and consequences.

The key to all of this are consistent rules and consequences. If Tony’s given an inch, he will take a mile. His parents need to begin the process of helping him understand that there’s expectations moving forward.

For more information on my ADD, ADHD and Executive Functioning coaching, please visit In addition to working with clients in-person, I also work with clients all over the United States and World online, please visit for more information. To learn more about my other services, please visit & I can be found on Twitter at ADHDGuru. You can also find me on Facebook, Google Plus and Tumblr. Feel free to email me at [email protected] or call 877.398.ADHD (2343) with any additional questions.

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