Raising children is hard. Raising children who have an ADHD diagnosis is even harder. The term, “complex kids,” that Elaine and Diane coined over at Impact ADD, resonates with me. ADDers are complex. Raising them, teaching them, coaching them, etc. can bring about perplexing situations which can lead to intense and overwhelming emotions. One of these perplexing situations happened in our home this week. And it brought about lots of overwhelming emotions and tears to this Mom who is doing life with an ADDer. Finding an activity, and in this case – a sport, where your ADDer feels comfortable, confident and remains interested, can be a challenge. Carlton has been taking tennis now for about four years. We started with a coach who was patient and understanding while working with Carlton through some anxiety issues he was struggling with at the time. She also built his confidence up after coming off a negative coaching experience in gymnastics. Unfortunately, she moved away, but we were able to stay in the same facility with a coach Carlton had worked with before and who was equally patient and understanding. Fast track about two years to the present and a few things have changed. A new coach was added to the clinic as well moving towards becoming a college track tennis program. For me, tennis is simply an avenue of exercise for Carlton with the hopes that he will have a team sport to play in high school. The new coach is pushing running – not one of Carlton’s strengths. The past two clinics he has gotten in the car upset to the point of tears and saying things like, “I’m starting to hate tennis now.” “It feels like gymnastics all over again, and I’m actually good at tennis.” All this because of one thing: A coach who doesn’t understand. (And a Mom who didn’t take the time to educate said coach.) When an ADDer feels stressed, not confident, overwhelmed…they can come across as being lazy (the way Carlton is coming across with running) and disrespectful (the way the coach is perceiving Carlton’s comments about running). ADDers also have a tendency to want to quit when things get tough. Don’t misunderstand me, ADHD is not an excuse for this behavior, it is an explanation. On the car ride home this past Monday, no amount of empathy, coaching, questioning, encouragement or advice was getting through to my son. By the time we arrived home, after keeping my cool for 20 minutes, my patience was at it’s end. I texted his coach (not the new one) and said we may need to talk soon as Carlton was struggling with the new coach and was starting to not like tennis. Long story short, the new coach had some not so nice remarks about Carlton not putting forth an effort and being disrespectful. Do I doubt that Carlton may be coming across that way? Not at all. In fact, respectful responses are something we constantly work on in the Kampfe house. Que “ADHD: The Tears of a Mom.” I went to my room, laid across my bed and wept. I mean, wept. I hadn’t had a good cry like that in a while, and I needed it. The next day, I did a little reading, and found an article I printed out for myself and the tennis coaches: “How to Help Coach Your ADHD Child Athlete” as well as one I printed for myself: “Secrets of Success for ADD Athletes.” There are some great nuggets of information in these two brief articles. Check them out and let me know what you think!