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How to talk to your reluctant student about executive function coaching (2023)

Picture this: you've just discovered the concept of executive function coaching, and you're confident it's the key to helping your child manage their overflowing plate of responsibilities.

You approach them with optimism, only to be met with a defensive, "I don't have time to add another thing to my plate!"

Or perhaps, they insist, "I've got everything under control!" even when the missed deadlines and forgotten assignments tell a different story.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, you're not alone.

Many parents face resistance when they first suggest executive function coaching to their children.

After all, from a student's perspective, it might feel like just another demand on their time or an implication that they're not managing well enough. But don't worry, navigating these initial objections is part of the journey, and we're here to guide you through it.

In this article, we'll explore effective strategies to communicate the benefits of executive function coaching to your reluctant student, and how you can encourage them to embrace this supportive resource.

Let's dive in!

"I don't have time to add another thing to my plate!"

If your student says, "I don't have time to add another thing to my plate!" it's important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding.

One important thing to remember is that many students with ADHD have rejection-sensitive dysphoria, which makes them hypersensitive to perceived critiques.

Here are some pointers for addressing your student's concerns:

Acknowledge their feelings

Begin by validating their feelings. Say something like:

"I understand that you're feeling overwhelmed and you have a lot on your plate. It's completely normal to feel this way."

Explain the benefits of executive function coaching

Make it clear that the goal of executive function coaching is to make their life easier, not harder. Say something like:

"The aim of executive function coaching is actually to help you manage all these things on your plate more effectively.
It can help you feel less overwhelmed and stressed by teaching you skills like time management, prioritizing tasks, and organizing your work."

Discuss flexibility and customization

Explain that the coaching can be tailored to their needs and schedule. You might say:

"The coaching sessions can be scheduled around your other commitments, and the coach will work with you to find strategies that fit your specific needs and lifestyle."

Encourage a trial period

Suggest trying out the coaching for a limited period to see if it helps. You can say:

"How about we give this a try for a month? If you find it's not helpful or it's adding too much to your plate, we can reassess."

The goal is not to push your child into doing something they're uncomfortable with but to help them see the potential benefits and make an informed decision.

"I've got everything under control!" (when it is clear they do not)

If your student insists that they have everything under control even when it's clear they're struggling, it's important to approach the conversation with patience and sensitivity. Consider the following strategies and responses:

Recognize their independence

Start by acknowledging their efforts and their desire for independence. You might say:

"I see how hard you're working and that you want to handle things on your own. That's really admirable."

Share your observations

Rather than outright contradicting them, share your observations in a non-judgmental way. For example:

"I've noticed that you seem stressed out a lot, and sometimes you miss deadlines or forget about assignments. I'm not saying you're not doing your best, but it looks like things are a bit more challenging than they need to be."

Reassure them of your support

Let them know that you're there to support them, regardless of their decision. Say something like:

"Whatever you decide, I'm here to support you. I just want you to feel less stressed and more in control."

Focus on helping your child see the potential benefits of executive function coaching without making them feel undermined or criticized.

A script for talking to your student about executive function coaching

Parent: "Hey, I wanted to talk to you about something. I've noticed you've been working really hard to manage all your responsibilities. It's impressive how you're trying to keep everything under control."

Student: "Yeah, it's a lot but I've got everything under control."

Parent: "I really admire your determination and independence. But I've also noticed that you seem quite stressed out sometimes, and I've seen you miss a few deadlines or forget about assignments. I'm not criticizing you - I know you're doing your best. It just seems like things are a bit more challenging than they need to be."

Student: "I can handle it."

Parent: "I know you can, and I believe in you. But I also think it's okay to look for ways to make things easier on yourself. That's why I wanted to suggest something called executive function coaching. It's not about adding more work, or someone else taking control. It's about giving you more tools and strategies to manage everything even better."

Student: "I don't know... I don't think I have time for that."

Parent: "I understand, it seems like one more thing to juggle. But actually, the goal of this coaching is to help you manage your time and tasks more effectively. It might help you feel less overwhelmed. And it's flexible, we can fit it around your other commitments."

Student: "I'm still not sure..."

Parent: "That's completely okay. How about we give it a try for a month? If you feel it's not helping, we can always stop. No matter what, I'm here to support you. I just want to make sure you're not feeling too stressed and you have everything you need to succeed."

The key is to approach this conversation with empathy, patience, and a supportive attitude.


In conclusion, navigating the challenges of executive function can be a complex journey, but you don't have to do it alone. An executive function coach can provide valuable strategies and tools to help your child manage their responsibilities more effectively, reducing stress and boosting their confidence.

If you're interested in learning more about how executive function coaching could benefit your child, don't hesitate to reach out. This could be the stepping stone your child needs to embrace their full potential and thrive.

Alternatively, if you'd like to practice these skills yourself and gain a deeper understanding of executive functions, we invite you to enroll in our free course, "Enhance Your Executive Function Skills." This course is designed to provide you with practical strategies and insights to improve executive functioning, which can then be shared and practiced with your child.

Remember, the aim is not just to enhance academic performance, but to equip your child with skills that will serve them throughout life. Whether it's through coaching or self-learning, the journey towards improved executive function is a step towards a brighter, more manageable future. Take that step today.

About the author

About the author

Sean G. McCormick founded Executive Function Specialists, an online coaching business that guides middle, high school, and college students in overcoming procrastination, disorganization, and anxiety by teaching time management, prioritization, and communication skills so they feel motivated, prepared, and empowered.

He trains educators, parents, and other professionals to support students with ADHD and executive function challenges through his courses in the Executive Function Coaching Academy.


Executive Functions, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, Executive Functions, Inc. will earn a commission.

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About 👋

EFS started with one teacher deciding that kids with ADHD needed better access to quality executive function coaching services. Since then, we have grown to a team of specialists working both private students and public schools to enhance executive function skills for all students. 

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