Parenting Complex Kids with ImpactParents’ Diane Dempster & Elaine Taylor-Klaus

They may have pivoted to parents, but Diane Dempster and Elaine Taylor-Klaus still bring every bit of their Impact! Today they join us to talk about parenting complex kids in a complex era along with Elaine’s new book, The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and More.

Along the way, they share incredible insights on the parent-child relationship. Ensuring that you’re on your kiddo’s team, consequences and punishments, owning and transferring ownership of responsibilities, growing up … it’s all on the table this week with Diane and Elaine, plus they share the story behind their pivot from ImpactADHD to ImpactParents!

Links & Notes


Episode Transcript

Brought to you by The ADHD Podcast Community on Patreon

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.

Pete Wright:
How are you?

Nikki Kinzer:
I’m doing great.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Feeling good?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, how about you?

Pete Wright:
Feeling strong? The air is cleaner here.

Nikki Kinzer:
It is.

Pete Wright:
Now I feel like I’m breathing guilt air.

Nikki Kinzer:
For not being outside?

Pete Wright:
No, no. It’s for like now oh no, my air is clean. I’m going to go outside and breathe some. And I just feel like, Ugh, I can’t stop thinking about the people who are still suffering through the misery.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know.

Pete Wright:
It’s really hard.

Nikki Kinzer:
It’s awful.

Pete Wright:
Our heart goes out to those who are still dealing with the fires and such because it’s very much still a real thing. So we’ve got a fantastic guest on the show with us today. I cannot wait to talk to them, Diane Dempster and Elaine Taylor-Klaus from impactparents.com formerly impactadhd.com, are here. They are wonderful coaches and community leaders and resources for the ADHD community. We’re going to talk all about their rebranding from Impact ADHD to ImpactParents. We’re going to talk about Elaine’s new book, Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, anxiety and more. Can’t wait to talk to them about that.

Nikki Kinzer:
And it’d be fantastic.

Pete Wright:
Before we do that head over to takecontroladhd.com and get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to our mailing list right there on the homepage, we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. Connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD and if this show has ever touched you or help you make a change in your life for the better, we would deeply appreciate it if you’d head over to patreon.com/theADHDpodcast and check it out. Patreon is listener supported podcasting with your support of a few bucks each month, we keep growing this show. Covers costs of production costs of hosting, all of the things that go into that.

Pete Wright:
And frankly allows us to spend more time doing this show than doing our other jobs, which is really the important part of this whole equation. The all of the math, it’s all about trade offs. And we would love to make more trade offs for the show. And I want to thank Nyssa and Apollo and Miriam and Eliana and RK and Peter, go Pete and Marcos for joining the community over the last week. We so appreciate you jumping in and helping us continue to do this show. You guys are fantastic. Now on that note, can we talk about this comment that has broken my heart?

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
We’ve got this comment on iTunes and it was both thoughtful and because it wasn’t a one star, I tend to like one star reviews. We’ve just, I do my best to let them go. Of course RSD rears its head and I can’t let them go. So it’s like weeks, I think about silly one-star comments, but this person gave us a three-star and said something that really got to me. So the first is this, is the title was disappointed and the comment is this, do the speakers have ADHD? The advice seems as if it’s forcing a creative person to be linear and structured. The advice sounds shaming even if that wasn’t the intent. I also didn’t care for the criticism of educators in “Not preparing students in the way of organization.” This can be up to the parent to. Oh my goodness.

Pete Wright:
That got right to me because first, if anything I hope is clear and I’ve gotten this comment before, when people ask me, does Pete have ADHD? Pete has ADHD and it can get really gross sometimes. I just regret that the advice sounded like it was coming from somebody who was forcing a creative person to be linear and structured, because that was not the intention particularly in the realm of educators in not preparing students in the way of organization. My observation is that is not a focus, certainly not a focus the way we have to live with being organized as adults and the expectations of businesses and schools who have guides for the integrating. And in so many cases, the expectations are not met by our experience in schools and that is all we’re trying to communicate.

Pete Wright:
It is hard to teach kids all the things they need and I recognize that as absolutely how hard it is to be a teacher. But I stand by the comment that the expectations of “Being organized” are not met at school, whether or not they’re met at home is something we’re trying to help support, not shoot down what great teachers are doing every single day. Please keep doing what you’re doing and also let’s raise a flag for the kinds of life skills that just aren’t a focus as much anymore in the school system as they used to be. Let’s just acknowledge that, if that is a more fair assessment, I don’t know. Do you have any thoughts?

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I want to say I do not have ADHD. I have a daughter who does. I’ve worked with people with ADHD for many, many years. I hope to that even with someone who doesn’t have ADHD, that I, as a coach, as a train certified coach, I would be able to help our listeners work and accept their ADHD. And the shaming part I think is the hardest part for me to kind of gravel because, oh boy, that is the last that I would ever want anybody to walk away from with our show, is to feel any kind of shame. I mean, I think the most important thing that I want people to walk away with is that they’re not broken and it’s okay to do things the way that you want to do them and how you do them.

Nikki Kinzer:
And it can be different from a neurotypical and it can be different from somebody who has ADHD and there is no shame in that. I think that when it comes to the educators not preparing students, they’re talking about one show and we were talking about planning and how to work with a planner. And again, I’m with you, it’s not criticism of the educators. I think the teachers are amazing. They do so much more than they have to. I mean, they go above and beyond to help our kids and teach her kids. But I agree with you, Pete, I think that when it comes to some of the organizing pieces, it’s not learned necessarily in school, but I absolutely agree with the person who wrote this comment, that it is also up to the parent. You bet. It is a collaborative effort and that is very much very, I agree with that too, absolutely. I can see thinking back about the conversation, we didn’t bring that up. We didn’t talk about the parents [crosstalk 00:07:15].

Pete Wright:
No. And that was all me and I was on fire. I was just using words and I do regret that. So yeah.

Nikki Kinzer:
I hope people know our intent is always in good faith. It is always in the inspiration of motivating people, having people feel good and hope, and love and joy, and be able to work with these things and not feel like they’re shamed or broken in any way. I’m not probably saying this correctly, but-

Pete Wright:
You sound great.

Nikki Kinzer:
… that’s just the hardest piece I think, is to hear that is that I just don’t want anybody to ever feel that way.

Pete Wright:
Well, and I actually, I hope this person comes back and listens to more shows because I think that the culture of the ADHD podcast and the community is an assembled thing. I think looking at a snapshot is unfair to the community at large. And just looking at one episode is kind of unfair to the podcast, writ large. So become a subscriber I hope listen to a couple of shows and see if the tapestry of what we’re trying to create here illuminates more of those messages. That’s what I hope. So to anybody who felt in any way slided by my comments on educators and the work that our educators are doing, please, please, please understand. I love you. And especially now like the risks that you take every day to just go to the classroom is extraordinary, so thank you for everything. And please know, we’re behind you.

Nikki Kinzer:
[crosstalk 00:09:02] 100%.

Pete Wright:
All right. Let us talk then to Diane and Elaine impactparents.com.

Nikki Kinzer:
Welcome ladies, it’s so nice to have you here.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
It is so fabulous to be back with you.

Pete Wright:
Just wonderful to see you.

Nikki Kinzer:
Wonderful. It’s been a while.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
It has been a long time.

Nikki Kinzer:
[inaudible 00:09:20] long time. Yeah.

Diane Dempster:
Well, we can’t see anybody in person right now so it’s just nice to be virtual you know.

Nikki Kinzer:
I know, it’s true. It’s so disheartening that the International Conference of ADHD is not going to be in person. It’s so disappointing.

Pete Wright:
It’s chronic, we were preparing our materials for the presentation and everything. And I said to Nikki, I said, “It’s like all the work and none of the fun.”

Nikki Kinzer:
And it’s the first time we’re presenting.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Is it really? Welcome, that’s so exciting.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes. Thank you.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
That’s really [inaudible 00:09:50].

Nikki Kinzer:
We’re very excited. So even though it’s online, that’s okay.

Pete Wright:
Yeah, that’s fine.

Diane Dempster:
[inaudible 00:09:56] something and have virtual happy hour or something. We got to figure that part out Elaine, how to have virtual happy hour hours.

Pete Wright:
We love virtual happy hours. Yeah.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
That’s the best part of a conference. Really? It’s what happens in the hallways and in the bar, that’s where the [crosstalk 00:10:08].

Pete Wright:
Mostly the bar.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s true. On the way to the bathroom. You have a 15 minute conversation with someone.

Diane Dempster:
People accost you on the way to the bathroom.

Nikki Kinzer:
That’s right. Well, we are thrilled to have you here with us today and we are definitely going to be talking about this new book that Elaine has out called The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More. And all I have to say, as I wish you had written this book, oh, let’s see, about maybe 10 years ago.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Well, I wish I had it about 20 years ago.

Nikki Kinzer:
Right. Well, I know it’s going to help a lot of people and I’m really excited for us to talk about that. But to get us started, I want to talk about the transition. You guys changed your name recently.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
We did.

Nikki Kinzer:
You rebranded yourself. Tell us a little bit about that.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
I’ve been saying to Diane, we’re not changing, we’re expanding.

Nikki Kinzer:
Expanding I like that.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So for nine years now, we’ve been operating as impact ADHD and we’ve been supporting parents of kids with all kinds of complex issues. So as we were bringing out the new book, the Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids, we really wanted our name to reflect the audience we support because it’s way more, as we all know, most of us with ADHD it’s always more. I describe my family as the family of ADHD plus plus.

Pete Wright:
I love that.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Anxiety, learning disabilities, depression, [crosstalk 00:11:45] depends on who you’re talking to. So we expanded into ImpactParents is our kind parent company. And then we still have Impact ADHD is this incredible robust blog, award winning blog. And then we’ve got now Impact Anxiety blog and the Impact Complex Kids blog. So we wanted to make it possible for people to self select and to find themselves in the resources we have available, but to really expand, to speak to a broader audience.

Diane Dempster:
Well, and you guys know this, I mean, some people identify their kids as having ADHD. Some of them identify them as having attention issues or executive function issues, or I don’t know what’s going on with my kid, but they’re just struggling in school or at home. So that’s part of it is again, Elaine just said this, it’s like making sure parents can see themselves in the community of people that we support.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Because one of the things was happening over the years is people would say, “Well, my child doesn’t have ADHD.” It’s like, well, it doesn’t really matter because if your kid is struggling with life or school, then you need help figuring out how to help your kid manage better and not be struggling so much. And that’s really what we’re about.

Pete Wright:
That’s fantastic. When did you make the switch?

Diane Dempster:
So when we started and created the name Impact ADHD, I mean, our main, we met at International ADHD Conference and we’re talking specifically about the parents of kids with ADHD. The reality is kids with ADHD don’t just have ADHD. What is it like 60 or 70% of them have other stuff going on. And again, it’s this sort of, where are you in the diagnosis process? Where are you everywhere else? And so pretty quickly on, we started serving more but less than [inaudible 00:13:34] Impact ADHD until just recently, when we finally realized. I think part of it was Elaine’s book. We were like, “Okay, we’re going to be out in a very different kind of public way. What do we want the name of the company to be as the book is being launched?” So we made that decision stuck the line in the sand and said, okay, we’re making the name change.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Actually it was changed on the book months ago because we knew the book was coming out September 1st but the website and everything changed.

Diane Dempster:
And then I addressed everything [inaudible 00:14:02].

Pete Wright:
Well, that’s fantastic. So that’s what I wanted to be clear about because I felt like this seems really new. Did I miss something important? Like in the ADHD planetary shift months ago, I just was out of it because that would not be entirely unreasonable.

Nikki Kinzer:
There’s something I want to be really clear about is that you’re helping the parents. So you’re coaching services and different programs aren’t necessarily for the student or the child or the teenager. It’s really helping the parents on how to work with that teenager or child that has these complex issues. Is that correct?

Diane Dempster:
Yeah. The reality is that even if your child is the one with the challenges, these kids need help to manage their ADHD or their executive function challenges that they have. And so part of recommended treatment if you’re talking to specifically about ADHD, part of recommended treatment for kids is to train the parents so that in the home at the, they call it the point of performance, the parent can help the child to change their behaviors.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So generally speaking, we have two key audiences. We support parents and we support the professionals who are supporting those parents or those families. We do a little bit of coaching for teens when we’re already supporting the parent. So when that parent is in our ecosystem and getting the training and the coaching that we offer, then there are times where we may off also make that available. We have somebody we contract with to make that available, but the primary focus is on parents and professionals.

Diane Dempster:
Well, and a lot of parents find that kind of scary because it’s like, well, wait a second, that scare is the wrong word. But it’s kind of odd because it’s like, “Well, my kid’s the one with the challenge, why would you train me?” But then other parents find it empowering because especially if you’ve got a teenager, your ability to influence your child’s behavior is very different. So I can’t tell you how many teenagers, or even parents of young kids come to us. And it’s like, I can’t get my kid to do what I want them to do or let alone what they want to do. And how do I get from where I am to a child who’s more independent. That’s really what we focus on. It’s not just about getting the homework done. It’s about launching these kids successfully in several years because so many of us spend our time kind of micromanaging everything they do and kind of dragging them, kicking and screaming through school or through life and eventually we want them to be able to manage themselves.

Pete Wright:
I’m going to say something, it’s going to sound like I’m making a joke, but I promise you, I am not making a joke. You ask who has the challenges? It’s my kid who has the challenge is not me. I’m the one with the challenges, my kid doesn’t care at all. [crosstalk 00:16:46].

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Because it’s your agenda.

Pete Wright:
Yes.

Diane Dempster:
[inaudible 00:16:48] wait a second, if your kid doesn’t care, they don’t have any [crosstalk 00:16:53].

Pete Wright:
That’s exactly my point. Like so much of this is a stress that feels, and this is coming from somebody with ADHD and with a parent of ADHD kids. Like what we work on is sharing the load of just observing what the world looks like and what the frame is that school expects of you. And then like, how do we ride the line on that Venn diagram between being a creative open and beautiful spirit, and also kind of delivering your homework on time and making and ensuring that the challenges are actually opportunities to express that creativity and also let me sleep at night, right? Like as dad. Those two things I think are really important. I feel like the challenges is a tricky word, but so apt, especially 2020. Like we’re dealing with so much new stuff.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Well, so here’s what I think you’re speaking to in our lexicon. What we’ve come to in the last few years, we’re doing a lot more teaching on this particular area is that there’s kind of four phases that parents go through in that process of transferring ownership from us to our kids. A lot of parents get stuck in that first phase of directing and creating the motivation, telling them what to do. But as you begin to transfer ownership, you begin to share the agenda and then it becomes their agenda. And the goal is for their lives to become their agenda, not ours. We’ve got to transfer those names, transfer the baton, whatever metaphor you want to use. So you are so right on target because if they don’t care, that means it’s still my agenda.

Pete Wright:
Are you never allowed to let that go?

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So I’ve got to figure out how to help them.

Diane Dempster:
As this visual of, is it Sisyphus? The one that’s pushing the rock up the hill. And it’s like, as a parent, it’s like, if you’re trying to get your child to do something that you want them to do, as opposed to inspiring them to figure out what they want to do and helping them accomplish that. I mean, just the shift in the weight of that is enormous.

Pete Wright:
We just went through this very exercise, why I think it’s really resonant for me. My daughter is going to college and all through high school she’s never used, even though they’re a Google kind of classroom, Google everything, she’s never used the online calendar. Like she just hates the whole enterprise of technology. She’s one of those, she doesn’t care about email. If I didn’t make her [crosstalk 00:19:27].

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Respect.

Pete Wright:
But she’s going to a university and every teacher expects her to be able to navigate the wonderful world of calendar invitations and accepting study hour, like open office hour sessions on the calendar. So we went through this process of like building her calendar online and I’m trying so hard to maintain my chill because to me it’s like I can’t believe that I’m the digital native here. But it’s an amazing thing. This whole idea of offloading that responsibility in an education context, as a parent and feeling like what is the trick? Trick is not a, there’s not a great word, either [crosstalk 00:20:15] term.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
What’s the process is what I would say. [crosstalk 00:20:18].

Pete Wright:
Yeah, but what is the price about the process?

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
It’s about the process.

Pete Wright:
Making sure responsibility originates in the child.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Because we’re looking for the trick and there is no trick.

Pete Wright:
There’s no trick. I like that. I love that.

Diane Dempster:
Not only are we looking for the trick but most of us don’t even realize that there’s a step here, right? It’s this sort of, we’ve been directing everything. We’ve been telling them what to do, helping them get it done. Well, this should go first and we’re kind of micro micromanaging them. I’ve got many years of micromanaging under my belt. But we know how to do that and then our kid, at some point, whether it’s 11 or 17 says, “Mom, no, no, no, I got it. I got it.” And we like, want to just say, “Let go. Fine. You got it.” And there’s a long way from me owning 100% of it to you owning 100% of it. I think people don’t even realize that there’s that process there between one and the other, because the kid says, “I want to have it.” And the parent’s like, “Well, I don’t know how to deal with it.” They said, “No, I can’t help them. The only way I know to help them is to micromanage them.” So that’s the sweet spot is that dance between me on in everything [crosstalk 00:21:18].

Pete Wright:
That’s a great observation because there is nothing in this transference that is binary. There is nothing that is yes, no, good, bad, one, zero. Yeah.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So I got to tell you, Pete, I remember the day with tears that my eldest child puts something on the calendar for the first time. I’m not kidding you. This is a true story. So I need to full disclose.

Pete Wright:
Oh my God. If I could, I would hug you right now.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Full disclosure. Wait till you hear the context of it. Full disclosure, I’m calendar phobic. Okay. One of the ways that ADHD shows up for me is I have a really hard time with an online calendar. I use it. I manage it. I’ve got like 12 people in my calendar. My team is amazing at not stressing me out with it. My family, like we’re all connected as a family. Like I understand the value of it. And it is very difficult for me to use as for whatever reason, my visual processing, the way my ADD brain works. It’s hard for me. It’s not easy. So I really hate to put anything on a calendar because I know I’m going to screw it up or do it wrong or whatever. I’m learning. So my daughter, my eldest child is in California and I’m in Atlanta and they’re 18 years old with the executive function of a Pete.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
We are managing their life through this digital calendar across the country. And it was very stressful and it was absolutely essential because they had auditions in school and all this stuff and we’re trying to help them manage their life and the calendar is the key. Literally we were putting everything on the calendar because they weren’t ready to do it. And the first time they did, I cried and I called them and their response was, “Yeah, well don’t tell mom.” So it’s a process. It takes a while to learn this stuff. It’s not just because we think it’s easy, it doesn’t mean it is easy.

Diane Dempster:
Well, or just because it works for us, doesn’t mean it works for them. I mean, I think that that’s [inaudible 00:23:20] because I’m listening to you talk about your daughter. I’m thinking about my daughter who does not use her online… I did it for her because I want to know what classes she’s in when, but she’s got this beautiful bullet journal where she keeps everything and she spends, I don’t know, two or three hours every week updating her bullet journal. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, why would you spend…?” It’s like, for me, that’s just kind of waste of time, but she loves it. And that’s what she uses.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
It works for her.

Diane Dempster:
[inaudible 00:23:44] class, who cares?

Pete Wright:
I’m listening to you Elaine talk about just the tragedy of online calendaring and I’m one of those where I do live in it. And my bias is always so pro calendar because my experience and the way my ADHD works is if I take a single day where I don’t look at the calendar, then by this time, next week, it will be blank. Because I have to have the alarm in the morning that tells me, look at your calendar and make sure every single minute is accounted for because if I don’t, if I let my hand off the wheel for a hot second, then my business starts to fall apart because I can’t keep track.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
I will tell you my favorite thing of all the alerts and the notices and everything that I get across my phone, my favorite thing is that rare Sunday or Saturday morning when I get a message that says there is nothing on your Google calendar today. Its like [crosstalk 00:24:40].

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
Right. You just won time.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, no kidding.

Diane Dempster:
Oh my God. I need to set that up. That would be really nice.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, I want to talk a little bit about the book that you just wrote, Elaine. The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety and More. And as I said earlier, I wish I had this book 10 years ago. I do have a 15 year old who has ADHD, but my son had anxiety growing up and still does. And emotional regulation was such an issue in our house. So before we go into the book, I’m curious to know what inspired you to write it.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Because it wasn’t there when I needed it. I mean, this book is designed… my biggest frustration early on in my coaching world was that I had spent a decade or more reading the best parenting books out there and trying to apply what they were telling me, and it wasn’t working. It was so frustrating that the traditional parenting paradigms, some of it was helpful, but it wasn’t helpful enough for my quirky kids. So what I really wanted to do with this book was to create the traditional classic parenting book for those of us whose kids aren’t classic, or maybe they are classic just in their own way. But I really wanted a general parenting book for complex kids. So that those of us who are trying to sort of say, what do I do, will have a guide for the bigger picture, for the context for getting our head around, what is it to raise these complex kids. So that it’s not just try this star chart or that strategy, but it’s really understanding what we’re dealing with here.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
The model that Diane and I teach in Impact is based on sort of pulls from your traditional parenting stuff. Like we do our positivity piece and all of that stuff, and it’s important. But what differentiates, what we do in the coach approach is we, first of all, there’s stuff about the brain. We talk about activating the brain and understanding what’s going on in the brain. And we talk about shifting expectations and that’s not lowering them, but shifting them. Inviting parents to meet their kids where they are, chronologically not but developmentally. So I don’t care how old you are, I care where are you developmentally and what do you need now? So if we can help parents meet kids where they are and invite them to grow from there, that sets the stage for success. Going back to our previous conversation, that sets the stage for us to transfer ownership, to foster independence, all of that.

Pete Wright:
A question.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
You’re looking so puzzled, Pete.

Pete Wright:
Puzzled. Welcome to Monday for me. Yes. That’s my resting puzzle face. Look, I have this question about milestones. [Rustburg 00:27:37] who’s going to be on the show and we’ve been prepping. One of the things that is particularly enticing to me is this idea of executive age versus biological age. It’s this sort of calculation that he’s got this, roughly 30%, you’re 30% behind. Anywhere you are take off 30%, that’s where your emotional sort of executive functioning age is.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
We would add after 5:00 PM take off a little bit more.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. And then after two drinks.

Diane Dempster:
Actually the other way around [inaudible 00:28:09].

Pete Wright:
That’s right. So the operative example here is that a kid driving, if you take 30% off of a 16 year old, he’s like 11 or 12, and would you want to put the keys to a car in a 12 year old hands? So I’m curious your take on this idea of sort of operational or executive milestones. If we’re talking about so many of these sort of achievements on a case by case basis, when you are able to kind of rationally hand over the keys, the metaphorical keys to the online calendar or the car, how do you approach that with parents trying to navigate the complexity of their relationship with their children?

Diane Dempster:
I think the big thing is just what Elaine said earlier is this whole idea of meeting them where they are. And part of that is really being able to understand where they are. So it takes a little bit of insight, a lot of curiosity, and maybe even experimentation, which when you’re talking about car keys may not be the most fun thing in the world. But the good news is that we do have driver’s ed and we do have a time where it’s this sort of thing. I mean, I had two boys, those were the executive function issues. Neither of them were ready to drive, unfortunately neither of them wanted to drive. I think that might’ve scared them as much as it scared me to get banned over the keys. But what you’re talking about Pete is this idea of really kind of getting clear on what they can and being willing to try that same continuum from me being in charge to them being in charge.

Diane Dempster:
You want try to let go of the reins a little bit, not just let go of them completely, but really say, “Well, what can my child self manage? Where do they need help?” We taught that concept of scaffolding stepping in those areas where the kids have a hard time, but you’ve got to know what they can do before you can scaffold.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So here here’s the story. Let me just follow up. I think the story is in the book actually. So my eldest, again, very quirky complex kid with extremely delayed executive function skills, overheard me in the kitchen, talking to a friend about executive function issues for his younger brother and trying to explain ADHD to his younger because he was frustrated by his younger brother. Dex is overhearing it from the other room, comes into the kitchen. Dex is 17 at the time and says, “So mom, are you telling me I’m not a really immature 17 year old, I’m actually a really mature twelve-year-old?” It’s like, you know when you look at it that way, you could. But I will tell you it was a game changer for them. It was like they gave themselves permission to not beat themselves up for what they couldn’t do yet and allow themselves to say, “Okay, I haven’t grown into that yet. I haven’t matured into that, but I will.” And that was kind of pretty cool.

Nikki Kinzer:
That is because I have a 15 year old and I know the whole reason we started the diagnosis process is she came down the stairs saying, “Mom, I think I have ADHD.” And I’m like, “Really why?” Well, of course she’s around it a lot because of me. And she hears me talking about it and everything, but she actually took a test to see online if she had it or not. But one of the things that made her take that test is she realized that what was taking her two hours to do in a homework assignment was only taking 20 minutes for one of her friends. And that was something that she immediately knew okay something’s not quite right. So it is, I like how you’re saying, it almost it does give them that opportunity to look at this in a different way that it’s not that you have to do it the way that your friend did it, that it’s okay to do it a little bit differently. You’ll get there when you get there. And just, I don’t know, it’s a lot more compassionate than this is what we need to expect.

Diane Dempster:
The thing I love about what you’re describing Nikki is that in that same instance, a kid who’s not growing up in a household where there’s conversations about ADHD and brains working at different paces and things like that, the kid’s going to create a story about what’s going on with them. If they’re struggling in school, if they find out that they took two hours to do something that a friend did in 20 minutes, they’re going to create a story about what that means. Whether it’s I’m lazy, I’m stupid, I can’t do it. So having that construct of being able to say your brain doesn’t work the same way as everybody else’s does really [crosstalk 00:32:31].

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
I don’t know how old you were when you were diagnosed Nikki but I was over 40 and I was only diagnosed because my kids all kind of one by one, like Domino’s, everybody’s getting diagnosed in the house. It’s like, it can’t just be his neurology here, there’s just too much going on. But part of the reason that I do this work and that Diane and I do this work is not just to support parents because we think that there’s this huge need, there’s of stuff out there for the kids, but not a lot out there for the parents. There certainly wasn’t when we started. But it’s also because I don’t want kids to grow up feeling like I felt. I had to work so hard and everybody kept telling me I was smart, but I didn’t believe it because everything was so hard for me.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
I had to work in between the ADHD and the anxiety and the learning disabilities, none of which I knew about, I mean, I did pretty well with it, but it came at a pretty heavy cost. And that’s really what I want is for parents to understand their kids so that they can empower their kids to play to their strengths and see what they’re capable of, instead of growing up with the story. I mean, what Diane and I always say is, if you don’t tell a kid what is going on, what they’re going to make up is that they’re lazy, crazy or stupid.

Nikki Kinzer:
One thing I did want to ask you about, because this is something that I felt so much pressure around and I’m assuming that probably a lot of people do too. This is with my ADHD daughter and with my son who has anxiety is what are the right consequences? So especially when my son was younger and he would get in a lot of trouble and I always had this pressure of what my mother would do, what my mother-in-law would do, what my sister would do. There was always pressure around the family, not so much friends, but really around the family of, oh, you should put him in timeout. Well, you know what? Timeout doesn’t work because he gets out of his chair and follows me around. Well, you should ignore him. No, doesn’t work either because he’s like mama, mama, mama.

Nikki Kinzer:
So all of these, like traditional things didn’t work. It was always really frustrating cause I just throw my hands in the air and it’d be like, I don’t know what to do. We would go to therapy and first time I read that book, the speaker was at the conference just last year about control, I can’t control your child, but I can influence them.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
[crosstalk 00:35:03].

Nikki Kinzer:
So I read that book and I’m like such good information. But of course, when you’re in the moment you forget and emotions are raising high. I know I’m not the only person that feels this way. Any guidance of how to wrap your head around that process, those feelings.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So I hear two things in what you’re saying and Diane, I want to hear what your thoughts on it. But I want to set the stage because I hear two things. One is how do you apply this stuff in that moment when you’re in the stress of life, when you’re trying to navigate. This is conversation, I think we have with our clients a lot, with our community a lot, because what we’re all about is how do you ensure there’s all this information you know, but what do you do with it? How do you apply it in that moment? So that’s one thing I hear you saying. And then the other is how do you apply consequences when is a lot of anxiety in particular at play. So I want to address that and then Diane, I’ll turn it over to you, see what you add. So what I would say is the best consequences, particularly with anxiety, are there ones that are negotiated or collaborated in advance and clearly articulated.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
The most important thing about a consequence is that we want to stay on our kids team. So if we establish in advance, they know what the consequence is going to be. Then the system is the bad guy and you get to stay on their team. Oh man, I’m so sorry. I know that’s really disappointing to you that you have to lose this so you have to get that, because they’ve already agreed to it in advance. It’s when we try to come in afterwards and there’s a section of the book that we talk about. Are you making consequences that are really punishments? Because I think a lot of times we think we’re doing consequences, but they’re really punishments because it hasn’t been clear in advance. A consequence is a consequence because you know what’s going to happen.

Pete Wright:
Oh yeah. If it’s an if then statement.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Right.

Pete Wright:
Right. It’s not a surprise.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Exactly. And so if it’s a surprise, then it’s actually a punishment, but you try to disguise it in this language, but it’s not really effective that way.

Diane Dempster:
Yeah. I was gong to say the thing I would add for that is that there’s a couple of reasons to put consequences in place. One is to send a message that the behavior is not okay and then the other is to help the child change the behavior. I think that that’s where we get stuck when we’ve got these complex kids, is that we want the consequence to do both of those things. So if you tell a child you’re going to lose X. This is our agreement, if you do this, then this will happen. And they continued to do it over and over again, it doesn’t mean that the consequence isn’t right, it just means that the child needs more than a consequence in order to change the behavior.

Diane Dempster:
So I think that that’s the piece of it. The consequences itself is not going to change the behavior. Doesn’t mean the consequence isn’t appropriate. You want to make sure the child, you’re reinforcing the fact that this behavior is not okay. This isn’t aligned with our family values. A lot of parents who use consequences over kids getting physical or kids using harsh language with their parents. I mean, you still want to say, no, you can’t call mommy a poopoo head. And your child needs help to stop calling you a poopoo head, they aren’t going to just do it because of the consequences. Because even that because and effect requires working memory that a lot of these kids just don’t have.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Just quick story that I’m remembering a friend’s kid who the son smacked his sister and then went and put himself out in the timeout. He knew exactly what the consequence was and just demonstrating your point Diane, go ahead.

Diane Dempster:
And then I think the other piece of it is there’s kind of two sides to it is your own mindset. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times as a parent I put what I thought was consequences in place from a triggered place and the reality that that’s not the way to do it. I mean, I’m angry so I’m going to punish you. I’m angry, I can’t handle, I am at the end of my rope, I can no longer handle this. And so I’m going to put a consequence in place. That’s really not a healthy dynamic to create in the family. You really want these kids to understand what are the boundaries, what are the agreements that we’re making and again, how can you help me? So just kind of keeping a check on your own trigger as you’re managing with consequences and rewards the same to watch yourself.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yeah, so important.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
It is.

Nikki Kinzer:
So important. I was lucky because my husband and I were able to kind of bounce off of each other. Like when I knew he was sort of at the end, I could jump in [crosstalk 00:39:33] we could. Yeah, exactly. But it is,, I think that… and I know Elaine, you talk about this too, this mindset, the shift of how you talk with your kids, not to them, but with them really in this collaborative, in fact, I want to talk to you about that this collaborative kind of solution solving especially as kids are older, I would think that they would appreciate that so much more. I know my son does, he’s 18 now and that comes with things too. I’m 18, I’m an adult. Yeah, but you still live here and you’re still a senior in high school. But we’re also learning to let go, as you were talking about earlier and giving them a lot more freedom. But yeah, talk, please tell us about this collaborative effort.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So our whole model is based, is a collaborative problem solving model. Everything we do, because what we teach is basically the coach approach to parenting. So it’s all, [inaudible 00:40:34] from the world of coaching. You take aim on a problem. You get on, you understand it, you plan, you take action. You try again. So what we’ve learned over the years is how important it is to focus as we were talking about earlier on the process, instead of the outcome. That it’s really about bringing kids into the process of learning to problem solve for themselves. That’s what’s going to prepare them for adulthood better than anything else is to continuously keep asking them questions that guide them to be with you, collaborating with you at first, and then ultimately doing it on their own while you’re supporting them to begin to make their own decisions.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
And yes at 18 they’re still living on their own and yes at 18 they’re also adults. So we have to navigate that dance with them and empower them to know that we see them as capable decision makers and that we’re supporting them in that process. Instead of the, either you do it or I do it. We’ve got to be in there with them, cheering them on and encouraging them and asking questions. I think probably the biggest tool, the biggest shift for us as parents is if we can learn to ask questions like so what do you think, or what are you planning to? Or how do you think you might handle that instead of, well, you need to do this.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh my gosh, that makes such a big difference.

Diane Dempster:
It does. And I’m listening to, I’m just like, I can hear all the naysayers is the wrong word, but I’ll tell the parents that are listening to us right now. It’s like, each time I ask my kid, what do they think they say? I don’t know. Well, that’s an indication. That’s fine. And that’s part of the process. It doesn’t mean you should jump in with your idea. A lot of times these kids have created a dynamic where they wait for us because they know how opinionated we are and doesn’t matter what ultimately they think, no matter what I say, because mom’s got an idea of what I used to do anyway.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Because it’s still our agenda, right?

Diane Dempster:
It’s still our agenda, right. Is this sort of, how are you going to get this thing done that I want you to do? Well, I don’t care about this thing you want mom. Part of it again though is their readiness to be able to make this decisions. And a lot of these kids are overwhelmed by their own life. They’ve spent a lot of time screwing things up, having to rely on adults in their lives. So when we hold them to, “Hey, well, what do you think?” A lot of them are afraid to make ideas and create suggestions because what if it fails? And here’s one more thing and that sort of thing. So part of this thing in collaboration is creating this change in dynamic, around failure and around experimentation and kind of keeping in a space of what do you want to try instead of what do you want to do? Because the minute I say, “Well, what do you want to do?” It makes it sound like, okay, you got to figure out the answer. You got to get it right the first time and if you don’t we’re going to do it my way because that’s just for handling it.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Well, and here’s what I would add to that is I’m a big proponent, we’re both big proponents in asking for permission. So if they say, “I don’t know,” because parents are always frustrated by I don’t know. If the kids answer to whatever the question is, is I don’t know. It’s like, “Okay, totally get that. I have some thoughts, would you like to hear them?” And just that permission, it’s kind of like knocking on a door and waiting for someone to answer before you barge in. If you ask for permission to give them thought or advice or counsel, instead of just giving it to them, I know you think that you’re the adult, they’re the kid and they should just listen to you. But the truth is, if you actually want them to build that trust to listen to you, then you’ll ask for their buy into it. And if you say I’ve got some thoughts, do you want to hear it? And they say, yes, now you have their agency. You have their permission to share what you want to share otherwise you’re just bossing them around.

Nikki Kinzer:
Oh my gosh. I wish I had had this conversation on Saturday-

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
[crosstalk 00:44:29] last week.

Nikki Kinzer:
… and not Sunday. Yeah, because we had this whole conversation about starting school and did they have what they needed? And mom, we’ve got it taken care of. We’ve got it taken care of. And finally I was like, “Okay, I’m going to trust that you have it taken care of. If you need our help, you let us know.” So far everything’s going okay.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Here’s what I will tell you is that one of best bits of feedback on this dupe book, I’ve gotten some great, amazing feedback, but one of them is parents are now using it. And Diane, and are seeing this shift in our practice. More and more parents of kids in their 20s and 30s. So it’s yes, if you’ve got a five year old or a 10 year old, it can help you avoid some of these problems that are happening to the parents of kids in their 20s and 30s. But if your kids are older, it’s never too late to learn this approach and change your approach to how you’re communicating with them. It’s never too late to empower them to take ownership of their lives. In fact, it’s probably more pressing at 25 and 30 than it even is at 10 or 15.

Nikki Kinzer:
Well, and I see that parents of older kids they want to be able to move into a role of supporter. But because they were never collaborating with their kids, they were only telling them what to do, the child’s like, “No I got this.” Or whether they do or not, they just, they don’t want anything to do with it to have to go back and rebuild that trust, rebuild the relationship. That’s hard to do when your child sees themselves as an independent adult. I’m glad you mentioned that because I do think about what’s my relationship going to be when they’re adult children. I don’t want to be in that role. That’s not the role I want to be in when they’re in their 20s and 30s.

Nikki Kinzer:
So it’s nice to hear you say that. I’ve got to tell you guys, I think this is one of the best parenting books I’ve read, really. It is so good. I love that you don’t just talk about the issues, like you’re not just talking about the challenge. Here are the executive functions. Okay, we get that. We know what the challenges are, but you’re also really giving support. You’re giving us the words. You’re giving us the action to take. And it’s not, it doesn’t feel like it, the one size fits all because if the coaching approach and the other thing I really love about what you guys do in this book, because it really engages the reader is the self discovery questions at the end of each chapter, because now I have to actually answer these questions with my own family, my own ideas, my own thoughts.

Nikki Kinzer:
Now, I’m engaged in the material of how am I going to take what they said and be able to put that into my family and it’s great. I love it. And Elaine, you did a great job and ImpactParents and ADHD is fantastic. And I’m so glad you guys are a resource because really, man, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just did… I was in despair. I didn’t know what to do because it was just so frustrated and you feel so alone because you don’t feel like anybody else gets it. Like we’re the only ones that are dealing with this situation. And it’s almost like a secret. You almost don’t want to tell people about it because you don’t want somebody to think different about your son or your daughter. So anyway, you guys are a blessing and I really I’m so glad you guys came on the show to talk about what you do.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Thank you. I really appreciate that acknowledgement very much.

Pete Wright:
Absolutely so deeply earned. Where would you like to, like, we’ve got all the changes in everything. So give us just a brief on where you would like people to go first to learn most about all of the work that you’re doing right now.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Diane, you got an idea?

Diane Dempster:
The best place to find us is impactparents.com and we have both free resources as well as fee-based services. I want to get back to Nicki just for a second to what you were saying before which is parents, there’s so much information out there. And parents come to us and they’re like, yeah, but does it apply to my kid? My kid is seven with emotion issues. My kid is 27 with whatever issues. It’s this sort of, it’s kind of unbelievable that anybody, that our approach can apply to all of those situations, but it’s really designed that way. It’s not just here’s what you do when this happens. It’s not a series of solutions because that’s really not what parents need and it’s not just information. I think that that’s the important piece of it. There’s so much out there.

Diane Dempster:
I don’t know about you, but parents are listening to podcasts and reading articles and everything else, and it really gets stuck with the execution piece of it. It’s that sort of, how do I actually put it into practice because I’ve got all these great ideas and I get stuck. So that’s really what we’re all about is helping parents take the information and put it into action. And the best place to find us is an impactparents.com, start with our newsletter or mailing lists. We got a lot of free resources and things on our website.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Can I just add one more thing to that? That’s okay, because you were talking about the questions at the end of every chapter. The other thing that we did in this book that I’m really proud of, that we haven’t really talked about much is there’s a discussion group guide at the back of the book.

Nikki Kinzer:
Yes, I saw that.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
So that parents can be in discussion, whether it’s PTA groups or teachers groups, or whomever. The parents, the goal isn’t to just read it. The goal is to use it and integrate it. This method really does allow you to begin to use it in those moments when you’re having a conversation. Like I had a client texted me this morning and she’s like, “Oh my God, I applied this. And from this chapter and it worked.” Like it’s really about usability and so I think the message I want to leave parents with is yes, impactparents.com is an amazing amount of resource for you. I do hope you’ll check out the book because I think it’s the book I needed.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Mostly what Diane was saying is that you’re not alone in this. You’re in this community, you know you’re not alone in this and you can do this and it’s not rocket science. Like it just takes a little bit of tweaking, a little bit of nuance and a little bit of changing and collaborating. It’s really amazing how open these kids will be to your approach to empowering them.

Diane Dempster:
Well and give yourself permission to not feel like you have to be able to do it alone. It’s just sort of, parenting was hard period. And parenting with a complex kid is even more challenging. So give yourself permission to get some help. I mean, we’re trying so hard to help our kids. And if we sit here and go, “Oh, I shouldn’t need help to parent.” I mean, that’s not a good role model for one thing. Number two, it’s not realistic for most of us.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Not at all.

Pete Wright:
Well, we deeply appreciate your time and your participation here. It’s so good to see you guys and wish we could see you in person at the conference this year, but alas another year.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
And there will be another year I’m [crosstalk 00:51:38] positive. There will be.

Pete Wright:
Sure. There will be.

Elaine Taylor-Klaus:
Yes.

Pete Wright:
Yeah. Be it a little longer, but there will be another opportunity. Thank you everybody for downloading and listening to this show. We deeply appreciate your time and your attention. On behalf of Diane Dempster and Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Nicki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright. And we’ll see you next week right here on Taking Control, the ADHD Podcast.