Coach Carlene


Watch out for “obsession.” Children with ADHD may become “hyper-focused” on electronics. The intense engagement that kids with ADHD display while playing video games is a double-edged sword, fraught with both danger and great opportunity. Goes without saying that over-use of technology, or playing inappropriate video games, can have many negative repercussions.

What’s a parent to do? Electronics in all its glorious forms of video games, laptops, tablets, smartphones, to name just a few, are part of our culture. They are our kid’s toys, just like GI Joe and Barbie’s were our toys. It’s not realistic to keep your kids off of electronics.

They can be good and bad for us at the same time. Video games and other digital media can be a powerful tool for learning in children with ADHD. For example:
• Sports-themed video games often require a child to think mathematically about player statistics in the midst of difficult distractions.
• Many video games, particularly those on mobile and handheld devices, require kids to focus on what they’re reading for extended periods of time.

But, is your kid addicted to electronics? Thinking that’s crazy? I’m telling you, many, many parents are afraid they’ve lost their kid to electronic addiction. What most parents have discovered is it’s not so much an addiction. It’s more of a deficiency in structure and boundaries around using electronics.

If the electronic footing in your family seems wobbly at best, it’s probably in need of some structure.

Signs of electronic over-use could include someone:

  • Not socializing with friends and family at all or as much as they used too.
  • Becoming highly agitated.
  • Seems more fatigued because sleep patterns are thrown out-of-wack.
  • Forgets to eat or doesn’t join the family for dinner anymore.
  • Has placed an unhealthy level of importance of winning or getting to the next level. It is the only thing that matters.
  • Neglects other responsibilities. Using electronics as a means of procrastination.
  • Complains of headaches consistently.
  • Has lost all sense of time. Time management and having a sense of time are often significant deficits for children with attention problems. They often become so absorbed with activities they find interesting, they lose track of how much time they have spent on their digital play.
  • Gaining weight because physical exercise is non-existent.

7 Strategies to build structure around electronics.

  1. Set time limits and enforce them! Use a timer if you need to limit your child with ADHD. You can use online timers such as http://www.timer-tab.com or even an everyday kitchen timer to keep your child on track.
  2. Fend off procrastination by having your child complete all homework, chores, or other responsibilities before being allowed some digital play time. Putting-off these fun activities until after other work is done, takes away electronics as the tool of choice for procrastinating.
  3. Remember last weeks structure tips on exercise? Physical exercise has been shown to improve focus and learning in children with attentional problems. Tell your child to go out and run around before and after playing video games, and to play active games such as Wii Tennis or Kinect Adventures
  4. Shut-off all electronics, including TV at least one hour before bedtime. The blue-screen tricks our brains into thinking it’s not night-time and then our brains don’t produce the melatonin chemical that regulates sleep.
  5. Set limits on the kinds of video games and activities your kids are playing on electronics. They should have some learning or educational value. Your kid may not realize it, but the only thing that matters is you know the value.
  6. Play with your kid. See what it’s all about. You’ll see your kid from a different perspective. This could help you figure out together the kinds of games that your kid likes and why. Then you can find games that are both entertaining and brain healthy.
  7. No electronics if friends are over. I use this consistently. It’s important for kids to make eye contact with each other, not the screen. You’ll be amazed what kids will find to do. I found mine climbing trees which entailed; physical exercise, problem solving, socializing, fresh air….all great brain boosting activities!

Leave a quick comment below if you would like to see more information on managing electronics for your kids. This is a huge topic and I’d love to share more if electronic overload is happening in your family.

Some of our kids aren’t into exercising if they aren’t the “athletic type”. Don’t fret. There are things you can do to get them moving and keep their brains sharp!

Just 1 Mile Keeps Your Brain from Shrinking
Our brains tend to shrink as we age, just like a piece of fruit on the counter. But you could help keep your brain plump and young just by walking about a mile a day.

What’s so great about a big brain?
Studies show that aerobic exercise actually increases the size of our brain, which improves our mental capacity. It likely means more mental power. When it comes to brains, bigger really is better.

Have you and your kids built exercise into your summer structure? Not convinced exercise can make a difference? Did you know…

  • It turns out exercise is just as good for our brains as it is for our bodies.
  • It can help fend off some of those pesky ADHD stressors too.
  • Exercise is the most natural way to improve your mood and self-confidence after months of hibernating from the cold.
  • Regular exercise is as effective as antidepressants for mild to moderate depression, which all too commonly shows up for those with ADHD.
  • The kind of activity you choose doesn’t have to be rigorous, but the more your heart pumps, the better it is for your brain.

10 Tips for Body Brain Boosting Exercises

  1. Let each person in the family have a day to pick the exercise activity.
  2. Be open to trying new things.
  3. Be supportive of each other. Hey, it’s not about being an athlete.
  4. Set a goal. Use a pedometer so your kid can see how many steps they take each day.
  5. Have back-up ideas for rainy days, like the Wii-Fit or X-Box
  6. Have a dance party!
  7. Build in some one-on-one time with each kid for a daily walk in the morning or after dinner.
  8. Get a dog and walk that dog! Dog lovers have lower stress levels and are more physically and mentally fit when taking their best friend on walks!
  9. Try doing something that includes another person so that you get that added brain boost that comes from socializing while you exercise. Try walking, blading, cycling or throwing a Frisbee with some friends.
  10. Beat the boredom! Change it up from time to time. You don’t have to do the same thing every day, year after year. The first muscle to get bored is your brain. When muscles get bored, they stop working. Stop getting stronger. Don’t let them know what’s coming. Use both sides of your body. Alternate different activities on different days to keep boredom that plaques ADHDers at bay. If you’re a walker or runner, vary your route. Learn new street signs. See new sights. Meet new people.

Why are you still sitting here? Get moving now!

Does spring cleaning excite you or nag at you?

The cleaning part of things is hard to do if you don’t clear the clutter first.

But where do you start? Spring cleaning sounds huge. When things are huge we put them off.

Forget the idea of spring cleaning for now.

There are reasons why your home or office is overflowing with stuff. Notice if any of these sound like you. Are there any of these behaviors you want to stop?

1. You love to shop. Your many interests fuel impulsive buying. And….you forget — or can’t find — what you have, so you buy extras.

2. You always need to be prepared, so you hold on to things “just in case.”

3. You get distracted and often don’t finish putting laundry away, sorting the mail or cleaning up dinner.

4. You are nostalgic and want to remember the awesome concert, theme park, movie or any experience so you keep the tickets, programs, and souvenirs.

5. You are emotionally attached to all those homemade cards your kids made you over the years. Or, you’ve inherited your Grandma’s tea cup collection that you secretly think is ugly but will never use for fear of breaking them.

6. You keep cabinet doors open or keep your stuff on the counter so you can see it…because if you don’t see it, you’ll forget about it. If it is out of sight it will be out of your mind.

7. You promise yourself you’re going to read all those magazine subscriptions and thumb through those retail catalogs soon. So why do you still have the 2010 Holiday Edition of Pottery Barn?

8. Making decisions and trusting yourself to know what is important is hard for you, so it’s just easier to keep everything.

The result? You have piles of “stuff” so high you can’t find what you need. The clutter is beginning to take over your home and your peace of mind.

Forget overhauling your house. Pick one thing to focus on and do it. Here are some coaching questions to help you discover what is important to you.

1. What is the one thing that will bring you peace of mind to have organized?
Papers, kitchen pantry, shoes, a drawer in your bathroom, your desk.

This should help….

  • First, sit or stand in a cluttered area of your home or office.
  • Next, close your eyes and imagine how the space would look WITHOUT the clutter. That’s right. Imagine it all tidy and clean.
  • Now open your eyes and notice the mess. Does it really bother you? If not, move on to another cluttered area.
  • When you start feeling uncomfortable you have hit your sweet spot. Let it really bother you. You may be feeling overwhelm, anxiety, and want to scold yourself. Accept those feelings for only a moment and use them as your motivation.
  • Before you touch a thing answer the last two questions below to cement the value of organizing this for you. When we understand our values around this we are able to tackle the clutter and stay clutter free longer.

2. If this one thing were organized what would become easier in your life?

If I wasn’t always searching for my left shoe in the morning I wouldn’t have to change my outfit and I would arrive at work on time for once!

3. What is it costing you to not organize this one thing?

My relationships because I blow up at others when I’m frustrated.
Or, I’m losing money every month paying late fees because I can’t find my bills and when I finally do it’s way past the due date.

So, just how organized do you need to be?

What’s organized for you might be too organized for one person or not organized enough for another. That’s why ’one size fits all‘ organizing solutions seldom work.

You need to be organized well enough to quickly find the things you use the most when you need them.

It’s that simple.

Finding things you need when you need them fends off overwhelm, chronic lateness and self-sabotage.

Remember, when it comes to organizing we care more about how it works for you than how it looks.

Okay, go for it. Attack that clutter.

Is there anything better than relief from the hum drum school routine?  You figure, let it be. Let’s enjoy the summer. Being carefree is what we all need. Uh oh. But if the carefree lazy days of summer have no structure your ADHDer is likely to spiral downward and take the rest of the family along! You can build structure into your summer and still be carefree.

Geez, “structure” sounds so rigid and formal.
Ahhh, I see what the problem is. Structure is often confused with routine. According to Mr. Webster routine is:  of a commonplace or repetitious character : ORDINARY

Ordinary. Yeah, right. And it gets worse.

Routine definition 2: habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure

How boring and soulless is that?! Guess who routine really does NOT work for? You guessed it. Those living with ADD/ADHD.

Structure is a totally different animal. It is something you build. Kids with ADHD love to build things. Get your kids involved with building the structure in your home.  Start with a schedule.  Add some consistent rules, expectations and consequences. Enforce them in a positive way. Help your kids understand them.

Why structure is so important, especially for Kids with ADHD
Kids with ADHD struggle with self-control – be it to stop behaviors or to keep their focus. When children are easily distracted the structure you give can bring about a sense of order in a chaotic world. Kids with ADHD need more  structure to help them manage the symptoms related to self-control.

 Tips for creating structure!

1. Make a summer schedule.
Fill in the easiest blocks of time first. Family meals and bedtime are great anchor points in your schedule. Obviously, the schedule will vary tremendously for each child. The idea is to create some structure by having and adhering to a schedule. Expand the schedule from there, filling in other activities for the day.
Plan down-time into your schedule. Kids these days have no idea what do with themselves because we “schedule” everything for them. See what your kid does with a free hour. You might want have a no electronics/tv rule during this hour. You’ll be surprised what your kid finds to do.
Before bed talk to your kids about what’s on the schedule for tomorrow. Knowing what to expect is huge for kids with ADHD.

2. Be Consistent but not Rigid.
Consistent rules, expectations, and most important, consistent behavior on your part build your child’s sense of safety. She needs to trust that black won’t become white between today and tomorrow. If you say one thing and do another, she’ll lose her sense of security. This doesn’t mean you should be rigid. There is something to be said for flexibility in responding to new situations. But before a child can trust herself, she needs to feel secure in the world around her. Your consistency will foster that trust.

3. Be Predictable. Not Boring.
Since much of life is unpredictable, clear boundaries, rules, and rituals are comforting. They give your child something to count on. Something that’s dependable. This makes him feel safe. The more predictable you become, the more your child will be able to respond appropriately to the world around him. If you’re child is afraid to come to you because he’s not sure how you’ll react, he may not come to you at all.  He may lie to try to control your reaction.

Think about that person in your life who is unpredictable. I mean someone other than your adorable child with ADHD. You never know how they will respond. Do you steer clear of that person in certain situations? You do? That’s natural. The unknown or unpredictable is scary. Now imagine your child with ADHD dealing with unpredictability. There it is, the overwhelm and anxiety. That doesn’t sound like a fun summer.

4. Stay organized.
Yay summer is here. No more backpacks, lunch boxes, gym clothes, papers or books. But you still got stuff. Like, towels, swimsuits, baseball gear, clothes, piles of flip-flops and more. All these things should have a home. Work with your kids on finding the best place for them to put their stuff. The next time someone is looking for something you will all know where to find it. If an item isn’t in it’s designated home, ask why it didn’t make it there and if there is a better place for it. Organized stuff can keep that ADHD brain from getting overwhelmed and panicked when in a time crunch.

A structured, consistent, predictable environment gives kids with ADHD a sense of confidence and security. They know that there is a great deal of disarray around them. But at the very least, their home is a haven. And remember, they won’t always agree with your actions, but at least they will know what your actions will be.

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The double whammy of having ADHD yourself and raising a kid with ADHD leaves many Mom’s feeling alone, depressed, overwhelmed, and did I mention exhausted?

I talk to lots of Mom’s about their kid’s ADHD. Recently, I asked a Mom if she has ever been diagnosed with ADHD. She chuckled lightly and said she suspected she would be, if she could find the time to see a doctor. Sigh. Sigh. She’s not alone.

Moms rely heavily on the brain’s executive functions including, exercising good judgment, planning, being patient, keeping calm, time management, and organization. Moms struggling with these challenges look at their chaotic, cluttered, unorganized lives and wonder how other Mom’s keep it “all together”.

If you’ve got kids dealing with those same challenges, you’re bound to have more missed deadlines, general mishaps, emotional outbursts, and, just as often, moments that, at least in retrospect, are poignantly funny.

You don’t outgrow ADHD or get it as an adult although it’s so common for girls to discover it late in life. If you have it as an adult, you’ve lived with it as a little girl. A Missed Diagnosis. Depression, anxiety, and dangerously low self-esteem are all too common for those girls who’ve slipped under the ADHD radar.

The good news is that as awareness of the seriousness of ADHD increases, more women are getting diagnosed—an experience many describe as liberating. Many women say they’re happy they pursued a diagnosis, which has helped them make sense of their pasts while managing their lives today.

Knowing how your brain works is a big benefit! Building self-awareness around how ADHD shows up for you is super important in finding successful strategies to ease day-to-day symptoms. Some things have to be accepted, while others can be tweaked to make life go a little smoother.

Have you been putting off getting a diagnosis and/or treatment? What if your diagnosis and treatment could lead you to saving just one inattentive daydreaming girl from a lifetime of suffering? Wondering, who that could be? They are the girls and women hidden in plain sight….. a student in a classroom where you volunteer, a niece, a granddaughter, a friend, a sister, another Mom.

Helping yourself first, allows you to share your story with others. Your journey can become part of someone else’s journey – their beginning of self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-compassion.

More and more information is becoming available about women and ADHD. You don’t have to go it alone. If you would like more information or support for women and girls with ADHD please get in touch with me at support@coachcarlene.com

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Numerous trips to the ER were a consequence. Sophie was always impulsive. As a child, she loved risky activities like swinging in the trees and waiting until the last minute to cross the street in front of an oncoming car. She was a daredevil with her bike, including dirt bikes and ATV’s as she got older. She went as fast as possible. She loved the adrenaline rush. She had a hard time keeping friends because she would react in the heat of the moment, hurting their feelings or would blurt inappropriate things. As a teen, bingeing on alcohol, drugs and food became habitual. Now, as a young adult, impulsive decision-making – quitting school, quitting jobs impulsively and spending money without considering a budget – was common.

The pause button is the idea that the small space between a stimulus and our reaction, that tiny little moment, is a moment of pure freedom.


That little dash is our choice, to use however we want. We can choose to react in a way that makes a situation worse, or better. It’s our choice, our freedom to do with what we want.

For some living with ADHD, their little dash, their space between a stimulus and their reaction, is SUPER small. They barely give themselves time to take in a situation before reacting to it.

Decision-making is part of the prefrontal cortex, which is the thinking part of the brain behind your forehead. It is the last part of the brain to mature and this doesn’t occur until our 20s. This explains impulsive decision-making in teens. People with ADHD have an even greater delay in the maturity of this part of the brain, which may explain some of their impulsive traits.

There are certainly consequences to a child being impulsive. Why did you throw the snowball? Don’t you know that’s wrong? But as we age, impulsivity can have greater consequences across our lifespan. One of the three most frequently seen types of impulsivity, include impulsive experimentation with drugs or alcohol. Impulsive driving can lead to higher incidence of accidents and sexual impulsivity can lead to increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases.

Certainly, a pause button would help. Instead of immediately making a choice, use the pause button and delay it to a later time, when you can deal with this choice more effectively. Talk it over with someone else, or imagine what your best pal, friend or coach would say about the choice.

The benefits of self-control cannot be overstated. Every study shows that those who excel at delaying gratification are happier, more successful, have better relationships, and the list goes on.

Pausing can help you to:

  • Stop reacting to your child’s behavior and become curious about what is causing the behavior.
  • Build and maintain friendships. Use the pause to listen, really listen. Use it to filter your responses.
  • Control your emotions and filter those catastrophic thoughts that create unnecessary drama, worry and anxiety.
  • Push your initial judgments aside. Eliminate any pre-misconceptions. Open yourself up to new perspectives.
  • Learn compassion and empathy for others and yourself!
  • Grow self-awareness of what’s getting in your way of being who you want to be and doing what you want to do.

If you’ve ever been around someone who has the ability to think before they react…gosh, it’s a beautiful thing. But, how do you learn to pause?

  • A good starting place is identifying your impulsive risks. For example, is it in the form of communication, spending money, bingeing on things, driving? These can be considered “critical moments” of impulsivity. Getting these on the radar is very important.
  • A second point is noticing when these critical moments occur. For example, does impulsivity come up in the context of being overly emotional or reacting to certain situations? Do alcohol or drugs contribute to impulsive choices?
  • Breath! Practice the art of taking a breath BEFORE jumping into all the yelling and screaming.
  • Come up with a signal or word with those close to you that tells you this would be a good time to pause. For example, have someone give you the time-out hand signal if you begin to interrupt or blurt during a conversation.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation. This can be so hard for those with ADHD. It’s called practice for a reason. Paying attention to our own physical and emotional triggers and responses is critical in knowing when to hit the pause button.
  • A helpful mantra might be “Just think about it.”

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What can coaching do for you? It can help in:

  1. Identifying your specific strengths and weaknesses
  2. Setting realistic goals
  3. Learning to prioritize
  4. Finding tips and tools to stay on track and meet deadlines
  5. Utilizing coping strategies without giving up; becoming more resilient
  6. Improving organizational and time management skills
  7. Self-motivating and ending procrastination
  8. Setting up your life according to your needs
  9. Improving self-care, such as exercise and nutrition
  10. Creating self-confidence, self-compassion and ending negative self-talk

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  1. Don’t dismiss anything as impossible. Imaginary boundaries, or in other words, our beliefs about what is possible, hold us back. Think of when an athlete breaks a world record.  Everyone believes it is impossible before he breaks the record. Now the bar has been raised, or the boundaries expanded, and other athletes use what they know is possible as newfound motivation. Their beliefs of what is possible have shifted. It is when we know something, we strive for greater possibilities. People who see possibilities beyond what everyone else knows are the people who believe anything is possible. They are the people who achieve what everyone else believes is impossible.
  2. Be certain you can overcome any obstacle. Deal with each obstacle one at a time until they have zero effect on your life.  Ask for help. Try a new approach. Be 100% confident the work to knock those obstacles out of your way are worth the reward of achieving your goal and purpose. Imagine two pictures. The first, what does your life look like if you do nothing and let those obstacles win? Second, what does your life look like after you’ve overcome those obstacles and are reaping the rewards…what are the rewards? Go knock those obstacles down! Your reward is waiting!
  3. You’ve got a new opportunity or an idea, you must take action now!  Intention isExtraordinary ADHD Life great, but action gets results! You don’t own a goal until you take action. One action leads to another action. A series of actions creates momentum. But you’re wondering, what if I make a mistake? We’re human. It is likely to happen. We make a wrong turn. We eventually find our way back. What did you learn on your detour? Take your new wisdom and knowledge with you to your next action. Don’t let a wrong turn slow your momentum. By taking action and staying in action, the universe recognizes your intentions and opens up opportunities you never considered.
  4. Do away with procrastination once and for all! Procrastination is a limiting belief (remember limiting beliefs in number 1?) that taking action now will be more painful than doing nothing now. Procrastination can destroy your chance to take advantage of an opportunity. Your opportunity becomes a missed opportunity. If you wait too long, showing up as your best-self is put in jeopardy. There is nothing to gain in waiting. Act now!
  5. Get clear on what you really want in life! Determine the best path to your goal. Focus on your actions, but leave the vision of your completed goal and its rewards as the backdrop. Get tripped up in the actions? Losing momentum? Focus on the backdrop. Imagine how it feels to live your life with the rewards of achieving your goal. Now, get back in action!

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