Recently, we sat down with passionate personal coach, author, teacher, and speaker whose work has inspired important conversations about social skills at the elementary and middle schools and in homes all across the country. Caroline Maguire believes all children can shine. Her work is critical to parents everywhere who support children with executive function challenges struggling to show their best selves.
Caroline has been a resource for many journalists as well as leading ADHD organizations and can be seen in publications such as U.S. News & World Report, Huffington Post, ADDitude, Attention Magazine and WebMD. Her new book “Why Will No One Play With Me?” is a complete guide for parents to help kids of all ages make friends and thrive. We had a few interesting questions for the author:
1) What led you to get into the work that you do, helping to advise parents? What was the driving force for you?
“Even until this day a lot of practitioners do not work with the entire family and focus solely on the kid, keeping the parents siloed. As I was working with children who all had executive functioning weakness, the social skills element just kept coming in, even for the kids who weren’t up for social skills as the primary presenting problem. It really just hit home for me that with the population I’m working with…social skills was a major area for needed effort. The driving force became that as I got into this there were so few people helping kids, who don’t necessarily have a diagnosis that helps them in school. I also found that there was just a tremendous outpouring whenever I talked to anyone about this and such a need. I realized that if people were outing themselves and talking so openly about children’s issues then I knew there was really a need.”
2) What makes this book different and unique from other self-help and parental guides?
“It is not written for professionals, it is written for parents so it is very jargon free. We are not expecting you to have a basis of knowledge. With all the love and respect I have for all the parenting books out there, they are extremely difficult for the average parent to comprehend. This book is not only really accessible but it is all about the “How.” It's not focused on the why as much and putting forth an academic or intellectual argument. It is evidence based but also very accessible and telling parents the things that professionals know.”
3) Play and building friendship seem to be at the center of your mission and work. Can you speak to the importance of that?
“Friendship and play are the way that children learn so much, including things like self-regulation, conflict resolution, problem solving, and working collaboratively as a group. All of these life skills that you need to learn as an adult to be successful in the workplace…those skills start in play and friendship. One of the things we forget as a society is that social skills aren’t an add-on but should be considered an essential skill to our functioning as an adult. Kids playing and being invited and having the reciprocity affects their self-image and how they view their social performance. I want them to have that successful experience so that they can feel prepared as adults and not paralyzed.”
4) What does it mean to be a coach vs. a parent? Can you speak to your use of the word and the importance of the term?
“A coach is a shepherd, a guide. They are not doing the work for you. They are shepherding you, teaching you new things, providing a model for you and literally guiding you toward a better self. We would never expect a kid to go out and swim the 100 meter without some sort of coaching or guidance and kids who need help with social skills and skill building need that same attention and time spent. I like the term coach because I think as parents you are there…you are the bridge between the Meeting House and home and school and home, and your job is to shepherd them. I like the term because as parents we are the guide for that child whether it be helping them tie a shoe or helping with moral decisions.”
5) How does the book guide parents to manage their own emotions and reactions to children’s behavior?
“The book guides the parents on first checking through their own story. We all have stories in our heads about different things and in many cases the behaviors the child presents with can be very baffling, confusing, or triggering to the parent. The book asks you to look at your story as a kid. As parents, we all fall into patterns so it asks us to take a look at our patterns when doing self-reflection. As a coach, you have to have yourself prepared emotionally, be willing to not jump on the information and start lecturing, you need to be willing to listen and hear that kids truth. Coaching is about hearing the child and asking questions and helping the child unpack their thoughts and feeling for themselves. You're allowing them to engage in their own process by stepping back, detaching yourself emotionally, and letting them talk.”
If you are interested in purchasing the book, click here.