Parenting ADHD teens is especially tough, which I’m sure you already know.
You want to help your teens get on the right path, but they’re resistant to rules and they get annoyed when you give them reminders.
But it doesn’t have to be a constant struggle.
Teens with ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) can learn strategies to help them focus as well as calm themselves.
As a parent, you can find the best ways to support them – leading to less conflict and more connection.
All parents want their teens to be happy and successful. Raising teens with ADHD means providing the proper foundation, tools, and strategies to help them succeed.
That’s what we’ll be talking about in this article.
(If your teen lacks motivation, make sure to download the free e-book below.)
7 effective parenting strategies
Believing in your teenagers and supporting their efforts is essential to navigating life with teenagers who have ADHD.
Such teens need extra reassurance and may feel frustrated because they can’t keep pace with their non-ADHD peers and siblings. These are all natural feelings.
If you’d like to know how to deal with an ADHD teenager, keep reading.
Here are 7 strategies that work:
1. Encourage your teen to exercise
Teenagers with ADHD often have excess energy. You might notice that your teen fidgets or is unable to sit still. In these instances, your efforts to get your teen to focus will feel fruitless.
Now’s the time to take a deep breath.
Remember, your teen isn’t ignoring you or trying to make you angry.
Physical activity is beneficial for the mind and the body, but motivating teens to do what’s good for them can be tough.
Find fun exercises or activities that your teen will enjoy doing. Exercise will burn off some of that extra energy and, in turn, calm your teen.
Exercise stimulates healthy brain function, regulates sleep, and enables your teen to concentrate better.
2. Establish and enforce rules
The teenage years are when teens start testing boundaries and pushing for more autonomy.
But teens with ADHD need more structure because they have difficulty understanding how to behave without established and consistent rules.
Don’t argue with your teen. Instead, communicate with your teen about your expectations and create rules that everyone agrees on.
Once you and your teen have agreed on a set of rules and expectations, it’s essential to make sure you consistently enforce them to maintain structure.
You can try creating a checklist of what needs to be done around the house and for school.
By doing this, your teenager will know exactly what’s expected of him or her and will have something to refer to if distraction kicks in.
Here are some other strategies you can use:
- Set a timer for certain chores or tasks to emphasise the importance of completing one task at a time.
- Positively reinforce good behaviour to motivate your teen to keep following the rules. (Teenagers with ADHD typically find praise more meaningful than teenagers who don’t have ADHD.)
- Think about issues that will likely come up in the future and brainstorm ways to deal with those issues together with your teen.
Teens need to discover the world around them and become more independent.
But parenting teens with ADHD means you need to provide extra guidance and strategies to ensure they do so safely and successfully.
3. Give appropriate consequences
When parenting a teen with ADHD, it’s vital to know the difference between punishment and discipline.
Now that you and your teen have worked together to establish a structure that works, you need to agree on the appropriate consequences.
Teens with ADHD are more likely to break the rules because they forgot, got distracted, or became overwhelmed. As such, you need to ensure that the consequences you put in place are appropriate.
- If your teens aren’t home by curfew – no going out the following weekend.
- If your teens leave their things in a mess around the house – those items get taken away for three days.
- If your teens don’t complete their chores – no video games until after they’ve done the chores.
When you set consequences that aren’t reasonable, your teens will become frustrated and resentful.
So be sure to explain to them why you’re carrying out the consequence. Discuss the situation with them and see if they need further help or support.
For instance, if the issue is punctuality, your teen might decide to set a recurring alarm. You could also encourage your teen to participate in structured activities that teach the importance of being on time.
4. Encourage social interaction
The average teenager is busy. A teen’s calendar fills up fast between school, other activities, and spending time with friends.
Most ADHD teens aren’t like their peers when it comes to socialising.
As a parent, you can provide opportunities for your teenager to participate in structured social activities like sports or clubs. These activities can help to meet the need for social interaction, while also enabling your teenager to focus on one activity at a time.
5. Foster a positive attitude
Keeping the lines of communication open with teenagers is a key way to foster a positive attitude in them.
ADHD teens need this because life is more challenging for them as compared to teens without ADHD. Teens with ADHD often feel like they’re letting others down when they’re unable to follow through on their commitments.
Saying positive things to your teens and framing feedback constructively will build their self-esteem. For instance, rather than accusing your teen of not studying when he or she receives a bad grade, explore what factors contributed to the bad grade. Have a discussion with your teen about what you can do to help.
Focus on the progress your teen is making, and celebrate even small successes.
This way, when your ADHD teen needs assistance solving a problem or making a decision, he or she will be more likely to turn to you.
Words of encouragement like “I appreciate it when you complete your chores” and “You’re getting better at this” will mean a lot to your teen too.
6. Give clear and effective directions
Parenting approaches that work for non-ADHD teens don’t always work for ADHD teens.
For instance, you might be used to saying, “Please get dressed, make your bed, and eat your breakfast.”
The problem is that a teen with ADHD might hear, “Please get dressed, blah, blah, blah.”
This is because your teen is thinking about what to wear or trying to pack his bag, so he can’t process the rest of your request.
Try to give only one instruction at a time. It may also be useful for you to write down the morning routine in concise steps. When your teen is distracted or having difficulty figuring out what to do next, he or she can refer to the list to get back on track.
When teens receive clear and effective directions, they’ll be able to complete tasks more easily. As a result, they’ll feel better about themselves too.
7. Create an ADHD-friendly study environment
ADHD teens need to be actively engaged with what they’re learning.
If you’re wondering how to help your teenager study more effectively, it’s not as difficult as you might think.
One of the best ways to create a suitable study environment for your teen is to have room for movement.
When your teen feels restless, encourage him or her to get up and move around. Your teen can schedule a five-minute break where he or she can jog on the spot or do a set of jumping jacks.
In addition, studies have shown that having something to fidget with while studying leads to better concentration in ADHD teens.
They also need to find creative ways to learn. The more they engage with a subject, the more information they’ll retain.
They can do mini science experiments, create fun math problems, and think of real-world applications of the concepts they’re learning. The more interactive the learning approach, the more focused they’ll be.
When it comes to parenting ADHD teens, communication is key.
Teens with ADHD need extra support and understanding in order to thrive.
The best way to do this is through communicating expectations, being present, maintaining a positive attitude, and being a source of continual encouragement.
As you work together with your teen, you’ll build the right foundation for your teen to find long-term success and fulfilment!
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