Guide For Parenting ADHD Teens

Living with a teen with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD) can be a rollercoaster of frustration, triumphs, and disappointments. But you, as a parent, can teach your teen to channel their energy into positive areas, which will help them overcome their daily challenges and bring a sense of peace to your family. The earlier you establish a structural pattern, and the more consistent you are with its implementation, the greater chance your teen has for success in life.

You must become the executive in your home and provide proficient guidance for your child to develop their life skills and coping mechanisms. Teens with ADHD usually exhibit deficits in executive function: the ability to control impulses, think and plan, organize, and complete tasks.

Keeping in mind that ADHD is just as frustrating for your child as it is for you will enable you to respond in positive, supportive ways. This guide will help you understand how ADHD affects your teen and various aspects of their life and will provide you with tips to establish the groundwork that will center your and your teen’s life and restore calm and stability within your home.

How Does ADHD Affect Teens?

ADHD is a life-long condition that affects the brain’s development and functioning and causes challenges in attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Teens with ADHD may experience some of the following difficulties:

  • Trouble staying focused on tasks that require continuous mental effort, such as school work, homework, or extended conversations. Teens who have ADHD are liable to make careless mistakes, become easily distracted, or avoid such tasks altogether.
  • Restlessness, fidgety, or inability to sit still. ADHD teens are prone to act impulsively, without thinking of the consequences, and may constantly move around, talk excessively, or interrupt others.
  • Struggles with organization and issues with time management skills. ADHD teens may forget or lose things, miss deadlines, or have difficulty following instructions. Frequent reminders may be necessary to do chores, errands, or make appointments.
  • Difficulties regulating their emotions. Teens with ADHD may be more sensitive to rejection, criticism, or teasing and may have angry outbursts, overreact to situations, or exhibit inappropriate behavior.
  • Peer pressure and social challenges. ADHD teens may have trouble making or keeping friends, fitting in with groups, or respecting boundaries as they may be perceived as rude, immature, or disruptive by others.
difficulty parenting adhd teen

Is There More Than One Type of ADHD That Teens Can Have?

ADHD affects teens in different ways depending on their characteristics and the type of ADHD they have. ADHD comes in three variations:

  1. Predominantly inattentive type
  2. Predominantly hyperactive-impulsive type
  3. Combined typ2.

Each type has its host of challenges and symptoms.

What Are the Different Ways ADHD Can Affect a Teen?

ADHD will have varying impacts on a teen’s life, as well as on the lives of those around them at home, at school, and in the community.

Having a family member with ADHD can be stressful, challenging, and at times overwhelming. Parents inevitably spend more time and energy to help their ADHD child, and this can lead them to neglect or overlook the needs of their other children. These siblings may, in turn, feel jealous, ignored, or resentful of the attention that their brother or sister with ADHD gets, as well as dealing with the disruption and noise that they cause.

Professional help, such as individual counseling for teens, family counseling, and support groups can help mitigate the negativity and bad feelings that stem from dealing with a family member who has ADHD.

Teens with ADHD often have trouble following instructions, staying focused, completing assignments, and getting along with peers and teachers. These teens may also have learning difficulties, such as dyscalculia or dyslexia. Teens with this disorder will need extra support, accommodation, or interventions to help them focus and succeed in school and they will also benefit from behavioral strategies, such as rewards, consequences, or point systems.

Teens suffering from ADHD face social challenges such as making friends, fitting in, and following rules, norms, or laws. These teenagers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as delinquency, substance abuse, or violence. ADHD teens may need to learn social skills, coping skills, or self-regulation skills to help them interact positively with others and avoid undesirable outcomes.

How Can Parents Help Their Child Deal With ADHD?

You will have to alter your behavior and learn to manage the behavior of your ADHD teen to foster proper development. The first step in your child’s treatment will most likely be medication, but behavioral techniques must always be in play to manage your teen’s ADHD symptoms. Following this guideline will allow you to limit destructive behavior and help your child overcome self-doubt.

How Can I Help My Teen or Young Adult With a Personality Disorder?

Parents and friends are crucial to helping teens and young adults cope with their personality disorder and continue managing their thoughts and behavior long after treatment is over. Often, psychotherapy involves teaching parents – and, optionally, friends – to watch out for specific sentences and speech structures and know how to react in a way that invokes what their loved ones already know about their condition.

Treating a personality disorder is not easy and managing both behaviors and thoughts to react “normally” can be difficult for teens and young adults. They rely on those around them to help them correct their behavior and adjust to what it’s like to think and act normally.

Principles of Behavior Management Therapy

Behavior management therapy is comprised of two basic principles:

  1. Positive reinforcement (encouraging and rewarding good behavior)
  2. Punishment, in behaviorist terms (removing rewards by following bad behavior with appropriate consequences, leading to the extinguishing of bad behavior).

Establishing rules and clear outcomes for following or disobeying these rules will help you teach your teenager that actions have consequences. These basic principles must be adhered to in every area of your teen’s life, including at home, in the classroom, and in the social arena.

The main goal of behavioral modification is to assist your child in considering the consequences of their actions and controlling the impulse to act on them. This will take a lot of patience, empathy, affection, energy, and strength on your part as the parent.

Your teen with ADHD may have difficulties internalizing and enacting your guidelines, so make sure your rules are simple and clear. You could try establishing a points system to make managing this easier. For example, your teen can accrue good-behavior points that can, in turn, be redeemed for pocket money, time in front of the TV, or a new video game.

Try writing down a list of house rules and putting them where they’re easy to see. Repetition and positive reinforcement will help your child understand your rules more easily.

Make sure you consistently punish bad behavior and reward good behavior and actions without becoming overly strict. Children with ADHD do not always adapt to change as well as others, and they should be allowed more freedom for learning and mistakes.

ADHD teens can, at times, experience aggressive outbursts. Public outbursts should have you removing your teen to a calm and quiet environment for a “time out.” This is an effective way of grounding both you and your teen, and it should be explained to them that it is an opportunity to cool off and think about the effects of the negative behavior they have exhibited.

Mildly disruptive behaviors are a way for your teen to release pent-up energy, and can thus be ignored. However, intentionally disruptive, destructive, or abusive behavior that goes against your established rules should always be punished.

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What are Some Tips for Parenting Teenagers With ADHD?

We have you covered with a few “do’s” and “don’ts” for parenting and coping with an ADHD teen.

“Do’s” for coping with ADHD

Parenting an ADHD child comes with a slew of stresses and can be exhausting, so ensure you take care of your mental and physical health. ADHD children tend to mimic the actions and energy they see and feel around them, so maintaining positivity will be beneficial to both your and your child’s well-being.

Practice self-care and seek support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if required.

Make a daily routine for your child and stick to it. Build rituals around school work, meals, downtime, and bedtime. Simple tasks, such as having your child arrange their school necessities for the next day each night, can provide essential structure.

Try using a large wall calendar or whiteboard to help remind your child of their duties. Color coding school work and home tasks can make everyday tasks and school assignments seem less overwhelming to your child.

Create a unique, quiet space for your child to do school work, read, and take breaks from life’s chaos. Make sure your home is always clean, organized, and neat so that your child knows where everything goes.

Children with ADHD become easily distracted by many things. Regulating your child’s use of television, video games, and computers will help curb impulsive behavior. Increasing time spent on engaging activities outside the home will present your child with healthy outlets for releasing pent-up energy.

Physical activities shed excess energy in healthy ways while helping your child focus their attention on specific movements. Exercise can also help stimulate the brain in healthy ways, improve concentration, and decrease the risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Calming down enough to fall asleep can be particularly challenging for children with ADHD. Irregular sleep patterns amp up inattention, hyperactivity, and recklessness. Helping your child sleep better is important, and you can achieve this by eliminating stimulants like sugar and caffeine, and decreasing television time. Create a healthy, calming ritual for bedtime for your teen.

Children with ADHD often lack self-control, and this makes them act and speak before thinking. When the urge to act out arises, ask your child to verbalize their thoughts and reasoning. Learning to recognize and understand your child’s thought process will help you both curb impulsive behaviors.

Teaching your child to take a moment before replying or speaking is a great way to control outburst impulses. Asking engaging questions about their favorite book or television show can help encourage more thoughtful responses.

Your teen most probably does not understand the stress and frustration that their condition can cause. Remain encouraging and positive by praising your child’s good actions so they know when something was correctly done.

You cannot bear the whole burden alone. Your child needs your reassurance and support as well as professional help. Find a reputable therapist to work with your child and provide another outlet for them.

You cannot be tuned in 100 percent of the time, and it’s perfectly normal to become frustrated with your child or yourself. Make sure you take breaks to focus on your self-care and mental health needs. A few good break options are:

    1. Taking for a walk
    2. Hitting to the gym
    3. Soaking in a relaxing bath
    4. Meditating

“Don’ts” for Coping With ADHD

Be accommodating to making some compromises with your teen, as this is a learning process where every small step counts. Consider being flexible with the third, uncompleted task if your child has accomplished two out of the three chores assigned to them.

Keep in mind that ADHD is causing your teen’s behavior. This disorder may not be visible on the outside, but it is a medical disability and should be treated as one. Before your anger overwhelms you, remember that your child can’t “just be normal” or “snap out of it.”

Always bear in mind that you are the parent and that you establish the standards of acceptable behavior in your home. Be patient and nurturing, but don’t allow your child’s behaviors, to bully or intimidate you.

As simplistic and obvious as it sounds, take things linear daily and remember to keep everything in perspective. Stressful or embarrassing situations today will fade away tomorrow.

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