Today, we’re talking about the truth in all it’s shapes and colors. If you’re living with ADHD, you might find you have a sometimes-questionable relationship with the truth, whether you’re struggling to be one hundred percent honest about a project at work, or dinner plans at home, and whether you’re lying to others or to yourself in the process.
Dr. Norrine Russell is back with us today to share her experince working with ADHD kids, parents, and coaches in navigating the not-always-black-and-white rules of honesty we create for ourselves, and what we need to do to corrall our baser instincts as a result of fear and uncertainty in our lives.
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Pete Wright: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.
Nikki Kinzer: Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete Wright.
Pete Wright: Happy season 25, Nikki Kinzer.
Nikki Kinzer: Season 25, yay.
Pete Wright: Oh, so, so fun and so glad to be back after our summer break, and we’re excited to go into the fall with a great slate of guests. We’re kicking off with one of our favorites, Dr. Norrine Russell is back and this time she’s going to talk about ADHD and lying, and all I can think about is Tom Cruise. You can’t handle the truth.
Nikki Kinzer: Right. Tom Cruise? No, that was not Tom Cruise that said that.
Pete Wright: No, it was the other guy that Tom cruise said, "I want the truth."
Nikki Kinzer: Yes, and then the other guy, "You can’t handle-"
Pete Wright: Jack Nicholson.
Nikki Kinzer: There you go.
Pete Wright: Jack Nicholson said you can’t in fact handle the truth.
Nikki Kinzer: No.
Pete Wright: And, it turns out the truth was important.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, yeah.
Pete Wright: It was hard.
Nikki Kinzer: It was a hard truth.
Pete Wright: Hard to swallow the truth. So, we are going to talk about the truth and we’re going to talk about who you lie to and if you’re lying to yourself and Norrine is brilliant and fantastic, and she has a new book that we’re going to talk about too. So, we’re going to talk all about that, but before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com, get to know us a little bit better. You can, of course, listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list, and we’ll send you a new little note every time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest at Take Control ADHD. And Nikki, would you like to talk about your latest child?
Nikki Kinzer: Yes, I’m so excited to be sharing with everyone today, or whenever you happen to listen to this, about the GPS program at Take Control ADHD. So, you have probably heard me talking about GPS in the past. It stands for guided planning sessions, and I’ve been running the program for over a year now and recently have changed it from a six week workshop to a full service membership program. So, we’ve worked very hard. Pete has been there with me, Melissa has been there with me to provide you with a service that not only gives you ideas and strategies about how to plan your day, your week, your long term projects, but it provides you the time and space to do the work and not just by yourself because you are doing it with other people who understand and support you as well. And in this membership program, there are four different stages to the membership with very clear starting points and milestones, so that you know what you need to do to pass on to the next stage.
Nikki Kinzer: And, we’ve dedicated a GPS membership website that includes a library of videos and worksheets and articles that are specific for the stage that you are in. During the actual GPS sessions, which meets two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays, we are practicing everything that you’re learning in the site, and it also gives you the chance to ask questions and to talk to other people that are going through it as well. So, depending on what stage of the process you are in, we’ll determine what you’re going to be doing during this time, and you actually get to meet with me one on one before you practice the GPS session, so you know what you need to be doing and giving me an idea of where you are in your planning system, so we can give you some clear direction. So, what I have done is really try to dedicate making this membership to be one that’s very transformative in the way that you think about planning and taking back time or taking back control, right Pete?
Pete Wright: Totally.
Nikki Kinzer: Take control of your time and schedule, and there are more benefits to the GPS membership than I have talked about here. So, make sure you do visit our website at takecontroladhd.com. Now, enrollment for the membership program is only going to be open a couple times a year. So, if you are actually listening to this announcement right now, and enrollment is open, sign up today. If it happens to be closed, be sure to get on our waiting list, which you will also find on the website. So, you’ll be the first to know when it opens up again. So, I hope to see you in GPS, thank you.
Pete Wright: I’m very excited about it. Obviously, you’ve worked so hard on it and we put a lot into the resources and the videos in the library that will continue to grow, and I think beta testing it over the last year has really served it. So, if you’re wondering what it’s all about, just know there are a bunch of people who have been through it and really given their honest feedback to make this something really great and helpful in getting through your days and weeks and months and actually ship some stuff.
Nikki Kinzer: Absolutely.
Pete Wright: Get stuff done, figure out your time, so very exciting, so GPS, you find it, you can go straight to it. Takecontroladhd.com/gps will take you right there, and now let’s talk to Norrine. Norrine? Dr. Norrine Russell is back. She joined us last year to share her passion for providing support to frustrated students and weary parents and illuminated our understanding of empathy in and around ADHD, just wonderful, and today she’s back, she’s going to help us understand the ADHD relationship to the truth. Norrine, welcome back to the ADHD Podcast.
Norrine Russell: So thrilled to be here, and I’m thrilled to be talking about this because I think it relates so much to the topic we talked about last time, which is how do you really understand your ADHD kid? How do you really get inside their head and how do you stay connected when, let’s be honest, ADHD can be so annoying.
Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm, absolutely.
Pete Wright: This episode was going to be called, You Can’t Handle the Truth: ADHD and Lying with Norrine Russell, but now ADHD is Annoying with Norrine Russell.
Nikki Kinzer: I love it.
Pete Wright: We’re just going to start putting t-shirts out, just t-shirts after t-shirts. So, how did you end up starting this whole sort of conversation in and around ADHD and lying for yourself? What got you into it?
Norrine Russell: It comes up in the practice all the time. So, you both know I have a student coaching practice that is designed specifically for kids with ADHD, autism, or anxiety or some combination thereof, and there are always hot button issues at my student coaching practice and lying is one of them. And, there are parents for whom no one has just quite yet explained in a way that makes sense to them why lying and ADHD are connected. And so, they’re still stuck in that stage of my kid might be a bad person, my kid is morally corrupt. If they would just not lie, everything else would be fine, and it really bothers these parents because it comes from a place of, I want to do a good job as his parent, her parent, I want to raise a young adult who is responsible, who can handle the truth about themselves, if you will, Pete, and who can own up to mistakes.
Norrine Russell: And, it’s one of those things that parents bring so much emotion about, and we see it most commonly when it comes to school. They told me they had that assignment in, they told me they passed that test. Now, once we start coaching, they take a backseat to all that, so we kind of stop hearing that after the first month of our process, but when parents find out that kids have lied to them, they’re just personally devastated. And so, I have a lot of conversations throughout the year about, let’s try to understand this from a brain first, from a symptoms first perspective. And so, last year we added to our manual for the 20 coaches, how do you deal with lying? How do you think about lying? How do you deal with lying? How do you support the parent and how do you forestall lying in coaching sessions?
Norrine Russell: And then from there, I just felt like it needed to be a bigger topic, and so I started talking with people and sort of fleshing out my thoughts about it, and then had some conversation with you all. And, I think it’s just we want to help parents move from this my kid is a bad person because they lied, to this is in many ways just a symptom of their disorder. They are going to grow out of it, and like many things, I can sort of change my parenting to not invite lying.
Nikki Kinzer: It’s interesting because I think if I understand what you’re saying, we’ve got the issue with how parents are feeling when they are being lied to, but did I understand this correctly, it’s also as a coach, if you have a client who might be lying to you in a coaching session as well, is that what you meant by that?
Norrine Russell: Yeah, absolutely. So, there’s a lot of ambiguity as a student is getting started in coaching and we all, whether we’re parents or professionals, we hear, "Well, the teacher hasn’t graded that yet, or I resubmitted it, but it’s not showing or well we’re going to get extra credit next week." And, all of these things, we have to be fair to the student, whether they’re elementary, middle, high school, college. Often they’re lying impulsively because they don’t have the coping skills to deal with the fact that, oh, I really do have a D in AP biology or I really did lose the report card I was supposed to bring home and have signed.
Norrine Russell: And so, there’s a lack of coping on the part of the child and the lying can be to anyone, parents, coaches, teachers, tutors. We find in our practice that the lying does decrease over time mostly because we have a practice that’s very grounded in we’re going to look at the portal, we’re going to send the teacher a note if we don’t have the stuff. We don’t invite lying. We don’t say things like, "Well, did you turn that in? Well, will you have an opportunity to make it up?" If you don’t ask silly questions, you won’t get silly answers.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, and it’s interesting you say that because I coach college students and that’s one of the things that I say at the beginning is that I want to be able to share our screen, so that I have access as well to your information, so that we can go through it and look at it. It’s not about being like a helicopter coach or a helicopter parent, it’s just knowing the information where you don’t even have to ask the question, you can just see it and be able to work through it. And so as a coach, I’m happy to hear you say that you do the same thing.
Norrine Russell: Oh, we absolutely do. We don’t ask the student any of those fact based questions, we go directly to the school portal, the student shares, and when things come up, then we also normalize the stress level and the temptation to lie. Ooh, that looks like you could be really disappointed about what happened on your language arts paper. I know you worked really hard on that and I see that you ended up with a 66, so let’s just pause for a second and take a look at that and tell me what happened. Did you get it back? Did you see it in the portal? Let’s just talk about that for a minute because I think that emotion identification and slowing that down is one of the important parts of the process of stopping the lying, that impulsive, panic stricken, "Oh, I did fine on it. I got an A."
Pete Wright: Both of you heretofore have been talking about this from the perspective of coaching and how you acclimate kids to coaching, but I’m coming at this as a parent and I’m thinking about how I have heretofore tried to create a culture of protecting privacy. As a dad, I’m telling, "Look, I’m not going to be just logging into your portals and your stuff because I want you to know that’s yours and it’s okay for me to be able to ask you those things." That’s where the trust bond starts to be built, but in this context, it feels very much to me like that agreement has to change, and I’m curious Norrine, how you renegotiate that particular dynamic as a parent. How do you guide parents to have that conversation, so that the kid knows what to expect and parents know how to approach this kind of sticky subject?
Norrine Russell: Right, so you’re probably 95% of the way there. You’re doing a great job. There are a ton of parents out there who are getting those messages all day they’re at work and they’re getting… We all know what I’m talking about. Liam doesn’t, Mary doesn’t, so-and-so failed, and it creates anxiety on our part and it creates a sense of responsibility. And so, one of the first things that I say is, parents, turn off the notifications. Go in there, read the emails or whatever, but turn off the notifications. There is nothing so important about your child’s middle school or high school grades that you need to be updated on a minute by minute live basis. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for your student because then that-
Pete Wright: It also tells me that their teacher is up grading papers at one in the morning, and I’m not necessarily interested in getting those notifications.
Norrine Russell: No, we don’t want to get them at any time. No, we want to choose a time to log on and read them, and I’m an advocate of you’re going to log on and you’re going to read them once a week. We’re not doing anything in middle school or high school that requires day by day oversight for parents. The goal is for the student to self-regulate and get that done, not for you to be the day to day manager. That’s an elementary school level parenting. So, you’re going to log on once a week. I personally am an advocate for log on on Thursday night, and normalize this in your home. You know what, hey, my own son’s name is Ethan. Ethan, we’re going to take a look at this on Thursday nights because I do have a responsibility to make sure that you’re getting an education.
Norrine Russell: That’s a fundamental part of parenting, and I know that you’re now at a stage in school where nobody’s going to come chasing you down if you don’t have your work to do. So, we’re going to look at it on Thursdays. My preference… This is the conversation you’re having. My preference is that we sit down and you kind of walk me through what’s going on, what’s going well, what’s not going well, and we figure out if there’s anything I can do to help you, but it’s all just an informing conversation because to me, I think that maps on very well to when you have a job and you’re reporting into your manager.
Norrine Russell: You show up for weekly supervision with your manager and you’re like, "Okay, I have this part of the project done, I don’t have this part of the project done, I’m stuck here. So-and-so is not showing up for work." You’re reporting in, so that’s the conversation that I advocate that parents try to create as the norm. Once a week sit down when you’re both relaxed and just kind of walk through it like, "Hey, how are things going? Is there something that I can help with? Where are you stuck? It’s normal to be stuck."
Norrine Russell: But, I do think there is a level of accountability of looking at that portal, and for me, in my experience, I think there are kids who need someone sitting there next to them looking at the portal with them in order to truly process what they’re seeing on the portal. So listen, Pete, if your kids are doing great and they’re achieving at the level that you’re comfortable with and they’re happy at school, don’t change a thing, but for parents who are kind of struggling with we’re getting missing assignment things all the time, I’m not happy, they’re not achieving at a level they’re capable of, I think the Thursday night with some warm chocolate chip cookies conversation-
Pete Wright: Ugh, always bring [inaudible 00:18:00]-
Norrine Russell: Always.
Pete Wright: The balance is tricky because I also am aware that parental insinuation into the process can be a marker of some sort of punishment. You haven’t been doing this thing, and so I have to step in. And so, keeping that conversation flowing all the time is I think really important, and the other thing, which I think maybe we can get to a little bit later, but the thing I’m super wary of now as an adult with ADHD is keeping the conversation moving around lying as a kid, which is one thing, and then lying to yourself as an adult. There’s like a direct path between those two things, and we have it around our house. It’s a persistent question. Who are you lying to right now? Are you lying to me or are you lying to yourself? And being aware of that, I think is a practice, it’s a skill because it’s so easy with ADHD to convince myself of the story that’s in my head and not be aware that I’m potentially not living in reality.
Norrine Russell: We had that very situation in our practice this year with a sophomore high school girl, and she was… You know how it goes. She’s so wrapped up in all of the lies about everything, and finally the coach and I both sat with her because we’ll often just team. The coach will say, "Norrine is going to join us today. She just wants to sort of observe the same way the principal comes in or whatever." And, we just had this really deep conversation about the pressure and the lying and what she thought her parents expected of her. And, then she just said exactly what you said, Pete. She’s like, "Mostly I’m lying to myself because I can’t handle it," and her treatment wasn’t optimized. And so, her brain wasn’t really working in her best interest and she was under a tremendous amount of pressure. She was at an IB school and she’s like, "I don’t want to think about it, so I lie to myself all the time and then I can’t figure out-"
Pete Wright: Or just don’t.
Norrine Russell: And I was like, "Oh, but that doesn’t feel good," any time we’re lying to ourselves about anything like, "Oh no, I’m not eating too much junk food or no, I’m not skipping half the bills or no, I’m not being a mean, horrible spouse or parent." And so, it’s a long and sometimes kind of therapeutic process of how do I come to start to tell the truth? But, then it’s so energizing and freeing. You know what, I did really bad on that, and I tried really hard and can we look at my process there?
Nikki Kinzer: I’m so curious about what you mentioned earlier. I want to go back a little bit about as a parent you’re being lied to and immediately you feel like, "Okay, what did I do to have this child lie to me?" Because I know in our home we want to be so open. I would rather you tell me the truth, it’s always going to be better if you tell me the truth, and even with those kinds of conversations you’re still lied to. So, I want to understand more about when you were talking about they can’t cope, just with the example that you just said. It’s too much, I just can’t deal with it. How can we help our children either cope with that, so they can see that lying is not necessary? And, I’m going to add this and I don’t know if it’s part of it or not, but when you talked about expectations, I think there’s something there too about a child wanting to lie because they have this idea of what their parents are expecting from them.
Pete Wright: And, the fear that comes with missing.
Nikki Kinzer: And the fear, yeah. What’s going on with the coping and all of that?
Norrine Russell: We’re going to talk about all that, but I want to be really clear, that stuff is secondary to the neurodevelopmental disorder. So, put your brain back into brain mode. What does ADHD mean? It means we’re not paying attention to the right things at the right time. Our brain doesn’t automatically focus on the relevant data automatically. Then, we have impulsivity, symptom number two, and then for many children hyperactivity. So, let’s just look at what happens through this brain lens. Kid logs onto the portal because they have to look up what the assignment is for math. They see that their English grade dropped from an 85 down to a 63. They panic, they kind of pop in there to look at it, and they realize, "Oh, I got a 20% on my first paper of the quarter."
Norrine Russell: They quickly shut it back up and they start doing their math problem. From an ADHD perspective, that information isn’t really getting processed through the frontal lobe in a calm, rational way, and this can happen for all of us. It happened the other day when I checked my credit score and I was like, "Why is my credit score down 50 points?" And I was all fluttery like, "What it happened here?" And, I’m not 15 with ADHD, and so your brain isn’t processing it correctly, then you add on the impulsivity. And so you’re like, "I’m not going to do anything about this right now because I don’t know what the right thing to do is so I’m going to impulsively put that in the closet," and then your parents come along and they’re like, "I’ve just got to notice from school, and you’re stressed out because you just saw the same information."
Norrine Russell: And so without thinking, which is the very definition of impulsivity, you say, "Oh no, I think that’s wrong. She gave me some other kid’s score. She told me that in class and she said she’s going to fix it in the next couple days." And, it’s all because the frontal lobe isn’t fully engaged and the impulsivity is in high drive.
Nikki Kinzer: High gear, yeah.
Norrine Russell: It’s ready to roll. And so honestly, Nikki, Pete, you could have had a thousand conversations about what you can do in that situation, but what do we know about ADHD? It’s not a disorder of knowing, it’s a disorder of doing. If you asked any of your children, if any of the three of us asked any of our collective brood of children, they would say, "Yes, I know my mom hates it when I lie. Yes, I know my dad would rather hear the truth than hear a lie." They know, and in the moment they have trouble doing, so this is where I think too parents sometimes talk too much before and not enough after. So, turns out that it was actually kind of hard for you to tell me the truth about what happened in language arts, and we’ve got it sorted out now and that’s okay.
Norrine Russell: What I want to sort of have some conversation with you about is you know what, most people lie. Research shows most people lie. Lying itself is not going to be the end of the world. What I want to have some conversation about is when you lie to me as your parent, I would really like when you have that moment where you’re like, "Oh, that was actually the wrong thing to do, that’s what my parent was talking about when they said don’t lie, tell the truth, it’s better," then how can I help you make that happen? How can I help you come down in the kitchen and say, mom, dad, actually that is my score on the language arts paper, I lied to you in the moment because I was kind of panic stricken and I don’t want to let you down and I don’t know what to do about it?
Norrine Russell: And so, there’s a lot of conversation that needs to happen after the behavior that is parent coaching for ADHD because we can tell them, and tell them, and tell them upfront, but until you have that happen, and then I think there’s also some conversation about I know you felt a lot of pressure in that moment to not disappoint me as your parent, I know you wanted to do your best, and I know that it probably would’ve felt super embarrassing, and I want you to know that I have messed up a thousand things in my life.
Norrine Russell: I’ve had to tell your mother, your father, your grandmother, your grandfather, your aunt, my manager, whoever it was that I messed this up and it’s going to happen. It’s going to keep happening to me at times, it’s going to keep happening to you at times, and so at some point let’s have a conversation about what happens when you don’t meet the expectations that you have for yourself or that other people have for you. And let’s talk about, how does that feel and what can you do in that situation? What’s going to make you feel better in that situation?
Pete Wright: Well, and that sounds so much to me like as soon as you’re able to make that twist, that you are reinforcing the fact that, hey kiddo, I love you anyway. I love you not for the work that you did on this history paper. I love you anyway. What’s more important to me is that you care about this and let’s work together to make sure that your care is reflected in the final product, knowing what we know that you got to get yourself through high school. If that’s table stakes, then let’s figure out how we can both do it and care and love each other along the way.
Norrine Russell: Well, and Pete, you bring up such a great point. If you had a choice between the kid who didn’t do well on the paper, but wanted you to think that he did because he knows that it matters and he doesn’t want to let you down, versus the kid who’s like, yeah, F that, I got a 20%, it doesn’t matter, school doesn’t matter, school is stupid, which choice are you going to take?
Pete Wright: No, I’d rather have the kid who tells me straight up because really, I didn’t care about the paper either. That’s not important to me, and that’s why I have to keep saying this. This is so good. I love that you could come here and therapize me. What I care about is that they find something that they love in the world and they might not find that in their history class. They might find it somewhere else.
Norrine Russell: Point well taken. They might not care about the paper, but they care about school and learning and pleasing you enough that they would rather not disappoint you. You’re right, point well taken. They don’t have to care about that history paper, but I do in general think we want them to care about broadly speaking, their education and the future. So, if you have a kid who’s like, "None of it matters. Why are you harassing me?"
Pete Wright: Well, here’s where that comes into play for me quite realistically, quite practically is that I have a kiddo in college and she’s wonderful and she does very, very well in the things that she loves. She’s tanked the same class twice, and it’s to the point where it’s like, I don’t want to keep paying for you to not get credit for this general ed stats class and she loves math. She’s a math head, but her response is, and this all comes back around the line because she’s totally lying to herself by not checking the grades, by ostriching around this class, and not talking about it. I get it, I resonate with the feeling for sure, but her response is, I just don’t know how to make it interesting. I’m not interested in it, and so I don’t do it.
Pete Wright: And, therefore I lie to myself about it because I don’t want to think about it, and I totally get the spark of that feeling. And, what I want to do is engender the feeling of, how do you manufacture interest, so that you can meet the basic needs of your degree, of your grades, of whatever it is that you’re doing? Because this isn’t the first time she’s going to run into things that aren’t interesting that she’s going to have to do anyway. And so, that’s a struggle, but I think that manufactures, that’s a furnace for lying.
Norrine Russell: Absolutely.
Pete Wright: It is the factory for creating the constituent elements that will make you lie to yourself and others.
Norrine Russell: Absolutely, and she’s not a bad person.
Pete Wright: Right, no, she’s fantastic. She’s an awesome person and she’s doing great in all of her other… I know she’s capable, which as a parent is the saddest part. That actually is the grief that I feel about myself when I tank things and start lying to myself. I just had it this morning where I had to… It’s a personal project we’re working on, it’s not a client thing, and I had to come to terms with the fact that I just didn’t do a thing that I said I was going to do because it was hard and it was a clogging task and I just didn’t get to it and I had to say it out loud and felt that grief of the expectations I have about myself and the fact that I did not meet them run head to head and that hurts.
Norrine Russell: It does.
Pete Wright: And, that’s why for the last six months I’ve been lying to myself and just not talking about it.
Norrine Russell: Maybe you need an ADHD coach, Pete.
Nikki Kinzer: That’s-
Pete Wright: God, I wish I could find one. They’re so elusive.
Nikki Kinzer: It’s interesting though, what you’re talking about with lying to yourself because taking it away from the students, but looking at adults, you do see that where especially with avoided tasks, like what we’re talking about, those things that we don’t want to do, we’re not interested in them and how easy it is to lie to yourself and say, "Well, I didn’t have this piece of information, so I can’t get started on this or I don’t have enough time, so I’m not going to get started on this," whatever it might be that you feel like you’ve kind of excused yourself away from doing the task. So I’m curious, what would you say to a client or to yourself if you see yourself doing it? How do you stop lying to yourself?
Norrine Russell: In our coaching practice, the way we want to just change those behaviors, you just have to totally pivot spin those things. It’s the same way… Imagine if you will the person who has a hard time paying their bills. It’s not about the money, it’s about managing and the envelopes and the emails and the notices, and bills these days to me are very much like school. You get some on paper, you get some from the bank, you get some in your email, and all this information is coming from everywhere. And from an executive functioning point of view, unless you just set the bank up to say, pay everything that ever comes in without looking at it, it’s a lot of executive functioning. So in our coaching practice, the analogy is our students see us once, if not twice a week, and we are looking at that school portal, Nikki, this is probably similar to your process with college students, every week at what’s due, and what do you need to do?
Norrine Russell: And, the tone is so important, just matter of fact, curious, warm, encouraging, and then at the end of mapping all that out in our system, the next conversation in our process is, what’s going to be the hardest thing to get done? What’s going to be the most challenging thing to get done? Where are you going to be stuck? So then on the front end, we’re building in an awareness of, okay, I’m going to have a hard time with Spanish because I have not yet ever done any Spanish homework this year, fair enough.
Pete Wright: All right, we have a problem area. We get, it’s okay, we admitted it.
Norrine Russell: And then normalizing that, so we take away the shame and the emotional impact. You know what, I’ve had students before who have had one class where they just can’t get themselves to do any homework. This is not abnormal. It’s not something you need to feel badly about, and I would like to invite you to tackle that in coaching. And so, then one of the later steps in our coaching sessions is it’s time to work on the thing that you’re most certain you’re going to procrastinate, forget about, dread doing, or lie to yourself and say, "Oh yeah, I got that 10 page term paper done." And so, that’s where we would start with that. If it’s Spanish vocabulary, you haven’t done it once and it’s February, well, if you’re in our coaching practice, that would not happen, but you know what I’m saying, let’s say they’re new to the practice, that’s what they would work on in the trouble time of our coaching practice is we would just say, "You know what, let’s get started with Spanish vocab. Open up the Duolingo and let’s start."
Norrine Russell: And, then we would incorporate that into sort of the working time of our coaching session until the student starts to be able to do that on their own. That could be a month, it could be two months, it could be a whole semester, it could be a whole year. We had this student Pete, he did not want to do… Oh, we had a student Pete who did not want to do his Spanish work for like a whole year, and then brain maturity kicked in sophomore year, he’s doing his Spanish work.
Pete Wright: And, how many times have we seen that? It doesn’t have to be about Spanish, it doesn’t have to be about stats. At some point, something connects because of growth, maturity, or whatever, and then it’s a whole new world.
Norrine Russell: And so for us, I want to normalize that. I want to take away the shame. I want to provide encouraging messages, and we know that concept of the body double helps everyone. I love to have a body double and I’ve got concentration at the 99th percentile, but I love having someone to work with. And so you know what, let’s pull it out, share your screen. I’m going to sit here, I’m going to read Dr. Russell’s new book, This is the Coach, while you start your Duolingo, and we’re just going to start the habit, and then how do you feel? So, we got 10 minutes of Duolingo done. You have five more minutes to do. I’m going to sit with you for a couple extra minutes today because this is the first time you’ve started it and I really want you to finish.
Norrine Russell: And, then I want you to text me the minute you’re done. So, text me in three minutes and say, "Hey, Coach Debbie, I got this done and I feel great about it," so that we’re connecting all those dots, and then we pick it up in the goals section in our brand new portal. Goals section was I want to get my Spanish vocabulary done. How did it go this week? How many days this week did you get your Spanish vocabulary done? What got in the way? Was it helpful? How do you feel? When you did it that day, how did it feel? How can we connect those things? Let’s start with that in the work part of our session today. You need to just, everyone neurotypical or neuroatypical, sometimes we just need a little, I’m going to say it, a little love.
Nikki Kinzer: Support.
Pete Wright: One more I think related question about this, and that is when we start, and I’m thinking, again, in terms of the nightmare factory that manufactures the constituent elements to lie, and one thing I see from kids to adults that in my life who are living with ADHD is they start lying to themselves when they overcommit because they have an exaggerated sense of what they’re capable of doing in any given timeframe. What’s your experience working with folks in that state who lie to themselves because they don’t understand their relationship with time?
Norrine Russell: So, this is my honest answer. I love my teacher friends and I love learning, but our education system is not what I would call one of the best in the world. I don’t know, I’m going to go out on a limb there. So, many of the students we see are stuck in a school or a class or an education system that is not a good fit for them. So, it’s not really about their judgment of time, it’s about, quite honestly, how are the teachers mapping things out? What are the teachers communicating? Are the teachers providing enough go forward lead time for students to plan around other things in life?
Pete Wright: Are the teachers communicating with each other about what they are putting on the kid?
Norrine Russell: We see about 125 students a week at my practice, and I don’t see a lot of kids who are stressed out because of sports or theater or music or band. And, you know why? Because they know, that coach knows exactly when they want them to show up for practice. You know exactly when those football games are and when you need to be there for band.
Pete Wright: And, you also know when they’re over.
Norrine Russell: Right, and I think I would not want to be… Honestly, if I could bring coffee and donuts and a $10,000 bonus to every teacher in America who is going back to their school this year, I would do it. I would not want to be in their shoes. The teachers are the victim of the system, and so this is not about teachers. This is about the system, but how do you plan for an entire quarter or semester of a class when you have kids coming and going from COVID, you yourself are coming and going from COVID, you’re stressed out because somebody else in the house is coming and going from COVID, you’re stressed out because there’s huge amounts of inflation and you don’t know if you’re going to be able to afford your groceries if you’re a single young teacher?
Norrine Russell: And so, my kids are more stressed out because they don’t have the information they need to plan, to use their time wisely when it comes to school. I would love to see the system decide that courses need to be mapped out at least two weeks in advance, just the way college courses are. When I taught college courses, you had to have that semester… You might announce like, "Okay, we’re a little behind on this, or maybe we’re going to move a test," but you had to have the whole thing mapped out. I think we’re asking kids to do a lot with very little information from a planning point of view.
Pete Wright: Well, and I think that gets to the second part of my question though because it gets to behavior that is cemented as a kid, whether it’s systemic or not to having an adult level misunderstanding of time and the ADHD urge to say yes to everything and to help everybody who comes on your path, and I think that again is something that it creates a sort of set of struggles around being honest with what you’re able to do and capable of doing.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, and I’m going to jump in on that a little bit too. I think that’s also where you have to ask yourself what your boundaries are and what you are capable of doing, and before you say yes to anything, practice that skill of pause. Wait just a moment before I say yes, and really think it through if you really have the time. Do you have the information that you need? Because if you don’t, this will give you time to figure out what you need to make that decision, and that’s the strategy of trying to curve the impulsivity, is to pause because it’s really easy to overcommit and then you have this whole shame spiral of all of the things that can create from overcommitting, so pause.
Pete Wright: Pause, well, I’ll tell you, Norrine, this is so useful. Thank you for being here, for joining us.
Nikki Kinzer: I really appreciate it too because it’s not something that we talk a lot about, right?
Pete Wright: No.
Nikki Kinzer: It’s a symptom of ADHD, but we don’t really talk about it. We talk about everything else, so I’m really glad you brought this to our attention and we got to have a conversation around it [inaudible 00:43:26]-
Pete Wright: We don’t talk about it because it’s what Norrine said early on, because it is so sort of inextricably linked to moral failing.
Nikki Kinzer: Right.
Pete Wright: And, once we remove that and go back, as Norrine says, to brain mode, which I’m going to be endeavoring to do more and more often. I think that’s incredibly useful. So Norrine, tell us about the new book.
Norrine Russell: Oh, you guys are great, thank you. Yes, so the new book came out on July 1st. It’s my first ever book, and I’m thrilled about it. And you two know me very well, I am an applied helper. This is what I care about, this is what I’m passionate about. So, the book is Asking the Right Questions about ADHD Before, During, and After Your Child’s Diagnosis. So, one of the things I experienced firsthand as a parent, and that I see over and over again as I’m doing intakes in the practice is that we often think as parents someone else is in charge of this. Your kid breaks their leg, the orthopedist is in charge of the treatment plan. Your kid needs glasses, the ophthalmologist is in charge of the treatment plan. Someone takes over once you’re like, "Oh, I think they have a broken leg, or they’re laying on the softball…"
Norrine Russell: With ADHD, no one else takes over. No one takes over if you’re the parent of a kid with ADHD, and therefore you have to know what questions to ask. Do they actually need an evaluation? Is this going to go away? Who do I go to for an evaluation? What should I expect in an evaluation? What questions should I ask in the evaluation? How do I decode this report which is 25 pages long and full of words I’ve never heard about, even though I have two graduate degrees? And so, the book is a whole set of questions that we recommend that parents ask.
Norrine Russell: There’s a set for before the diagnosis, so things like, is your kid going to grow out of this? What does the American Academy of Pediatrics say about if you think maybe they do, should you get an evaluation? There’s the huge section during the diagnosis. What do you expect? Who do you go to? What’s the difference between having an ADHD diagnosis from a neurologist, versus a psychologist, versus a psychiatrist? And, then the last section of the book is all after there’s a diagnosis, what do you need to ask? What are questions for school? What questions do you have for whoever is on the treatment team? What is a treatment team? And so, it’s a tiny book, it’s short-
Nikki Kinzer: ADHD friendly.
Norrine Russell: ADHD friendly, you can get your beach reading done and read this, I think 137 pages and-
Pete Wright: Okay, well, the link will be in the show notes, but the bigger question that I always ask is, are you going to do an audio book and are you going to do the narration yourself?
Norrine Russell: I don’t know how to do an audio book.
Pete Wright: Well, you and I should clear this out-
Nikki Kinzer: I was going to say Pete does. Pete will get you set up.
Norrine Russell: And yes, I want to do an audio book.
Pete Wright: Fantastic. All right, well that is for a future conversation. I’m looking forward to it. I love giving people the option to digest your material in any possible way they can.
Norrine Russell: Call me.
Pete Wright: Big fan. Yes, absolutely, and thank you for doing it, thank you for pitching it. Anything else you’re excited working on? We haven’t seen you in a year and besides the book, or is this pretty much had all your attention?
Nikki Kinzer: This little thing of writing a book.
Pete Wright: This little thing of writing a book.
Norrine Russell: It’s a small book, it took a couple days. Well, the other exciting thing I’ll tell you, my friends, is that we are in the final stages of developing a portal called The Connected Coaching Portal, and it is a customized software for student coaching specifically around our method, and all of our students who are here starting this fall, so fall of ’22 will be using the portal and it will support their coaching process in terms of this will be a place where all the coaching information lives. What are their strengths that we found out from the Clifton StrengthsFinder? What are their executive functioning strengths and weaknesses? What are their goals for the semester? What are their goals for the week? What are their grades? What are their assignments?
Norrine Russell: And, everything’s going to be in there, and parents you’ll love this, parent access will be restricted to what we think is going to be helpful for you to stay in your lane as a parent and put your connection with your child first. So, we’re not using any more paper planners, no more paper notes, no more texting. We have the country’s first coaching portal for students for middle school and high school. I’m so excited. I’m beside myself, I’m not going to sleep.
Nikki Kinzer: That’s awesome. Now, can you do it for college or is it just middle school and high school?
Norrine Russell: We can and we do see college students. We’re actually in the midst of we’re going to launch next fall an intensive first year college program because we have a little bit of a brain trust at the practice right now that’s really researching, why is it that half of kids with ADHD fail first semester? And, I want to offer more than coaching. I want to offer a holistic plan that wraps in their medical treatment, that trains the parents on what’s helpful because I want our statistic at our practice to be a lot higher than that.
Nikki Kinzer: That’s great.
Pete Wright: Wonderful.
Nikki Kinzer: Great.
Pete Wright: Congratulations on all the good work, so happy for you, and thanks for coming and having this conversation with us again, we so appreciate it. Where should people go to find you, still at Russell Coaching?
Norrine Russell: Russellcoaching.com, we’re on Instagram at Russell Coaching LLC, but you can link there from the website. So, just go to russellcoaching.com. We are currently accepting new students for fall coaching, and so for any of your listeners, we will offer 10% off the first three months of student coaching, and that offer is good through the end of December of 2022.
Nikki Kinzer: Oh, thank you.
Pete Wright: Are you going to send us a code we can put in the notes?
Norrine Russell: We don’t need a code, I send it to the office, Carla makes a note we’re-
Nikki Kinzer: We’re good.
Norrine Russell: We’re good, you don’t-
Pete Wright: You heard about it here.
Norrine Russell: You heard about it. We got it. We don’t need anyone keeping track of the code.
Pete Wright: All right, no code.
Nikki Kinzer: That’s awesome.
Pete Wright: It’s the no code offer, everybody, no code. Don’t even worry about it. Well, thank you, Norrine. You’re wonderful. Thank you for joining us. Everybody go check out russellcoaching.com or links in the show notes. You can get the book. I already put the book in the chat room, so definitely check it out. On behalf of Norrine Russell and Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. We sure appreciate your time and your attention. If you have anything to add to this conversation, definitely jump over to the show talk channel, which you can access on our Discord server by becoming a patron member at the deluxe level or higher. Thanks everybody, we’ll see you next week right here on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.