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Parenting Teens With ADD/ADHD

Parents with kids who have ADHD often face unique challenges through the course of child and teen development. Micromanaging your teen, setting reminders for them and helping them do tasks that they see as frustrating are things you may have been doing up until now. Through your child’s teenage years, it’s important to take a step back and asses how much responsibility your child is ready to handle.

Your child might be fully accepting of your help with everyday chores and general organization, but this can lead to too much dependence on you; it’s difficult to figure out the best way to help without completely removing yourself as a main support system. There are a few methods you can use that not only place responsibility with your child, but allow them to take the lead on problems themselves:

  1. Communicate indirectly whenever you can. This creates a sense of distance between you and your teenager; you won’t be available to answer every question they might have, and they’ll have to find solutions on their own. You’re never too far away, and knowledge of that support system still existing is often enough for your teen to help themselves.
  2. Use notes to communicate. Nagging can be an ineffective way of getting your teen to do something important; instead, leave notes or a voicemail to remind your child of something that needs to be done. This can be a good way to work up to independence; after a few weeks, stop prompting or reminding your teen of something, and see if they remember to do it on their own.
  3. Develop a reminder system designed by your teen. This not only puts decision-making in their hands, but allows for accountability. Not everything works for everyone; your teen may have their own ways to remind themselves that are more effective than others. If this is the case, let them use their own methods and spend a few weeks monitoring their progress.
  4. Give your child access to resources other than you that they can go to for help. If you are the only source of help and direction, independence seems unlikely unless they internalize the advice or information you give them and start using it on their own.

 Parenting Teens With ADD/ADHD 

Identifying specific challenging tasks can be effective in helping your teen problem solve. Instead of using ambiguous terms, giving them one defined area to focus on can prove to be effective.

  1. Let your teen choose a challenge to work on, and let them come up with their own solution on how to solve it. It could be remembering to do a weekly assignment for school, or even getting to sleep on time.
  2. If your teen is willing to accept help, let them determine what role they might want you to play. This way, you don’t offer help, but you do respond when assistance is asked of you.
  3. Start small. Pick something that your teen can absolutely find a solution to; success with a smaller task means they might be more likely to try tackling larger problems.

Dealing with resistance from your teenager can be tricky. Here are a few ways to try and tackle such problems:

  1. Consider compromising. If you absolutely have to have something done, and your teen doesn’t want to do it, consider an exchange of goods or services. Maybe you, say, let them use the car if they agree to run some errands for you while using it. This can be an effective way of getting past a teenager who repeatedly tells you “no”.
  2. Help your teen set personal goals and decide on a path to get there. If they are opposed to long term planning for things, explain how they can use such skills to reach a goal they may have, whether it’s traveling with friends or buying a new computer. By making the goal something that your teen stands to benefit greatly from, it creates a willingness to plan. Along with your guidance, your teen can stand to learn a great deal from such activities.
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