Lessons for Success

One of my students was recently accepted to university. An unlikely candidate diagnosed with ADHD and Auditory Processing Disorder, her high school dutifully explained that she was not meant for Cegep, let alone University. Instead, they suggested that she attend a trade school.  She did not, however, concede to their low expectations, and, fast-forward three years, she received her university acceptance just two days after applying.

When I received the message revealing the news, I was so overcome with emotion that I cried. My tears were more than just joy. I cried because I knew that this was the ultimate ideal of what success meant to her. I also felt a sense of personal pride in her success and knew that it has been a long and difficult three years.

But the most defining reason for my tears was because I knew that she was a success story and a role model for all families touched by academic and personal difficulties.

She, along with many of my other students, have inspired and taught me so much.

Picture1Here are some of my favorite lessons about how to enable and support success:

Listen deeply. Children who are struggling need to be able to count on somebody who hears them.

Listen to your child, not just their words but also their actions and their emotions.

Listen to the feelings that they can communicate and to those that are more difficult to express. Validate how they are feeling, and sometimes just listen silently, without giving any feedback.

Earn the right to be trusted. Make sure that you follow through– do what you say you are going to do, no excuses. We hear it all the time—if somebody wants something to happen then they make it happen. So make the time. That is how you build a loving, hopeful, long-lasting and positive trust.

Celebrate the small victories. Give your child a sense of hope and accomplishment—it will help them become empowered, successful individuals. Start by breaking tasks (academic and/or personal) into smaller parts and celebrate each small step as it is achieved. With repetition, your child will experience a boost in self-esteem as they realize that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to!

Find the silver lining.

No matter what the situation, there is always something positive to take out of it.

Make sure that you help your child identify those positive elements so that they can learn from their experiences and enhance the way in which they view the world.

Stand up for what is right and fair. Teach your children to advocate for themselves in a positive way by modelling what it should look like. Show your child how to positively and politely, but firmly, ask for what they need for success.

Support with your heart. Sometimes, the best support has nothing to do with taking action but rather comes in the form of a non-tangible feeling. It is something that is felt and shared. Make sure that your child knows that you really care about them and believe in them. Don’t just assume that they know, make sure that they feel it.

Never give up hope.

You are your child’s most important cheerleader!

Even if a situation seems impossible, make sure to model dedication and perseverance through problem solving with a positive attitude. Just imagine if my student would have given up and decided not to enter Cegep? Who knows where she would have ended up!

Until next time, happy reading!





  • Cheryl
    Posted at 08:45h, 19 March Reply

    Thank you Robin for your amazing blog!

    I was crying when I read it because, I have a son with ADHD who is entering high school next year. I can’t even begin to tell anyone the fear and stress I’ve been feeling, wondering if should I be pushing him or just letting him find his own comfort zone and he will reach his potential and more? It was a struggle deciding whether to put him in a private high school or stick with a public one.
    We know he is extremely bright and very capable but it’s sill a daily struggle when it comes to studying and staying on task. Even with medication by 3pm he has trouble keeping his concentration.
    My fear is that he will fall behind and not be able to catch up.
    We were always told he needed help in school and he began to rely on it, he started to think that he wasn’t capable of doing school work on his own.
    We decided to change schools 2 years ago and to our delight he WAS able to succeed on his own and maintain good grades. Being in the public stream and having the most wonderful teachers taught him he isn’t different and can learn like in classmates without being taken out of class for one on one remediation. He is a different child, he gained self esteem, became very social and made a lot great friends.
    He does have to work much harder at the same task the others but I admire him because he doesn’t give up!!

    Thank you for bringing more awareness and giving me some hope that I can dream for big things in his future.

    • Robin
      Posted at 12:53h, 22 March Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story, Cheryl. I am so glad that your son’s academic career has turned around and that he is succeeding! Continue to follow your instinct and stay positive!

  • Nancy
    Posted at 10:31h, 19 March Reply

    Thank you for sharing this, both Robin (and Cheryl!). What a great read, and reminder of how we can guide our children to match their goals and feel successful.

    The suggestions Robin’s list of suggestions to enable these kids can serve positive for any child at any school level, whatever their personal challenges may be.

    I am so happy I read this today, also feeling the pre-high school jitters for my kids. I think I will print it to re-read it many times over the next few months/years.

    • Robin
      Posted at 12:57h, 22 March Reply

      Thank you, Nancy, for your positive comments. Good luck as your kids enter high school!

  • Sandra
    Posted at 17:42h, 19 March Reply

    Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing, you touched my heart❤️

    Mom of 2 amazing special boy!

    • Robin
      Posted at 12:58h, 22 March Reply

      Thank you for the positive feedback!

  • Didi
    Posted at 17:58h, 19 March Reply

    I share your feelings of joy and pride. I worked with these ADHD, CAP kids for over 25 years and can confirm that those with inner strength and confidence have achieved great success. A teacher, tutor, coach and parent can help a child confront the realities of life and learn how to advocate for himself. It takes big ears, bigger smiles and lots of hard work. Keep feeling the thrill!

    • Robin
      Posted at 12:59h, 22 March Reply

      Hi Didi,

      Thank you for being prideful and joyful in your work! We need more people like you working with these students!


  • Lisa
    Posted at 22:22h, 19 March Reply

    Wow, how inspirational!! As a mother, it is so hard to think ahead, of what will be in say, 10-15 years. Thank you to you, Robin, and to all of you for sharing your experiences and intuition.

  • Robin
    Posted at 13:00h, 22 March Reply

    Thanks, Lisa. I’m glad you are able to start seeing the bright future ahead!

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