The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and More: What Parents and Teachers Really Need to Know to Empower Complicated Kids with Confidence and Calm

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The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids teaches parents and professionals how to be an effective parent when raising children with ADHD, anxiety, and other complex conditions—and how to guide kids on a path to a healthy, happy, well-adjusted life.

A wake-up call, a clear guide for action, and a message of inspiration, this book provides a reality-based recipe for how to do a masterful job of raising complex kids, while not making yourself (or your family) crazy in the process.

Parenting expert Elaine Taylor-Klaus, co-founder and CEO of, will walk you through their proven coach-approach method, which shows all parents, in simple steps, how to identify challenge areas and how to use critical tools to parent simply, clearly, and effectively—for everyone’s benefit. It doesn’t much matter if your child has ADHD, or anxiety, or learning disabilities, or sensory processing, or ODD, or autism, or depression, or attachment issues—or celiac disease or food allergies, for that matter. All that really matters is this: complex kids struggle with some aspects of life and learning because they have a chronic medical condition (or several) that they need to learn to manage for themselves. A coach approach will help you communicate, collaborate, and guide kids of all ages on their path to independence and success.

Here are some of the challenge areas addressed inside, and the coach-approach messages and strategies for working through them. 

  • Challenge: Feeling Like You've Tried Everything –> Coach-Approach: Letting Go –> Strategy: Lean into Relationships
  • Challenge: Fearing for the Future –> Coach-Approach: Parent from Inspiration, Not Desperation –> Strategy: Shed the Shoulds
  • Challenge: An Unhappy Home –> Coach-Approach: No One Gets to Be Wrong—The Benefits of Positivity –> Strategy: Play to their Strengths
  • Challenge: Overwhelm Is Keeping You Stuck –> Coach-Approach: Focus on What's Most Important –> Strategy: Take Aim!

Once you learn to use the Impact Model with a coach-approach, it can be applied to any situation. in fact, the more you use it, the easier it all becomes. Constant battles don’t have to be part of your daily life. With The Essential Guide to Raising Complex Kids with ADHD, Anxiety, and More, you can (all) learn to rediscover peace… and thrive.

From the Publisher

Do You Have a Complex Kid?Do You Have a Complex Kid?

Do You Have a Complex Kid?

Most parents weather occasional storms. That’s life, after all.

But with complex children—kids who struggle with life or learning—it can feel like we are living in a constant state of high alert, with a hurricane threatening to move in at any moment.

It’s deceptive: The skies appear sunny and blue. But you see that gray cloud looming, closer than you’d like, and you never know when it’s going to swoop in and rain on your parade. You never know when your child’s challenges are going to hijack family life.

Maybe your child’s been diagnosed with ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, autism, sensory processing, food allergies, or something related. Maybe not.

Chances are, there’s a reason for their difficult behavior.

If you feel like you just don’t know how to help your child, or you’ve tried everything and nothing works, then you are in the right place.

The first part of this book will demystify what’s really involved with parenting a complex kiddo. So, I want to invite you to take a deep breath and let it out really slowly. And again. Lengthen your exhale. Now, let’s begin.

Copyright Elaine Taylor-Klaus

If you’re often walking on eggshells or waiting for the other shoe to drop, then you, like me, might have complex kids.

Are you concerned your child is lazy or disrespectful?

Do you feel helpless watching your child suffer?

Does your kid lash out in ugly ways, only to apologize later with deep regret?

Does your child struggle to make and keep friends?

Are sibling squabbles much worse than you ever imagined?

Does your smart kid think they’re “stupid” and struggle in school?

Do you regularly disagree with your coparent about how to help your kid?

Are you convinced something’s going on, but your child hasn’t been assessed?

Strategy: Failing Forward (with Three Magic Questions)

Here’s something most of us hate: failure is a fundamental part of learning. We don’t learn to talk without babbling or walk without stumbling. Scientific discovery relies on learning from failures, identifying what doesn’t work without judgment so we can discover what does work. Failure is responsible for chocolate chip cookies, so it can’t be all bad! (See Chapter 9) But still, most of us resist it with every fiber of our being.

It’s reasonable to expect our kids to fail, falter, and make mistakes while learning to succeed, but they don’t see it that way. They’ve been conditioned to want simple fixes, as you have; and they’re often not exactly the most patient people. They’re easily embarrassed and want to be seen as capable, by you and by themselves. Failure is the last thing they want to experience. They want to avoid mistakes at all costs.

Thus, teaching them to handle failure is an essential component of raising complex kids. It’s difficult both because they tend to hate failure and because they don’t learn from mistakes very efficiently. Because kids don’t process mistakes while they’re happening or they resist redirection out of shame, they often don’t learn to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Patience with the process of problem solving and learning from mistakes can be overwhelming, frustrating, or scary for kids, and for us. As parents, we want to rescue them, limiting their frustration and disappointment in themselves.

But preventing them from experiencing failure reinforces their tendency to see themselves as stupid or flawed when they do make mistakes. Instead, we want to be on their team when they falter, brushing off the dust without judgment, so they can learn from the experience and discover how resilient they are.

Mistakes are human. It’s up to us to give kids permission to be human with grace, and teach them to fail forward.

The strategy of failing forward is a magic process for learning from mistakes without shame or embarrassment. From the sublime to the ridiculous, in professional and personal settings, it works wonders. When a test score isn’t great or a recipe kinda flops, try asking the three questions on page 142. We want to set kids up for success whenever possible, collaborating with them as they learn to navigate life. Embrace a “practice makes perfect” mindset, paying attention to circumstances around mistakes only to learn from them. Avoid feeding feelings of inadequacy that lead kids to shut down. Help them learn from mistakes and establish new behaviors by failing forward, activating their brains to become more alert and aware in subsequent situations.

The bottom line here is to teach your kids, “Let every mistake be a new one.” That will help them become less likely to repeat the same types of mistake and less likely to beat themselves up for making the first one. It’s a great message for kids to hear—and not a bad one for us either.


What worked? The essence of learning from mistakes is to start with the positive. This sets a tone of optimism and possibility and prevents people from going on the defensive.What didn’t work? After exploring the positive, discover other relevant details. Pay attention to what there is to learn from the mistake, matter-offactly. Visit but don’t dwell there.What will you do differently? Start planning for the next attempt.

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