Parenting Tips for Parents of Teens with ADHD


The adolescent years can be difficult enough for parents and teens without throwing a behavioral disorder such as ADHD into the mix. Because teens with ADHD require different types of discipline and management, parents may find themselves at a loss to handle their teen's needs. Although the greatest chance for successful ADHD management comes through close supervision with a therapist who can work with both parents and teens, there are a few tips that can make the teenage years a little easier.

Provide Structure

Parenting your child with ADHD in the early years involved active behavior monitoring both at home and in the classroom. However, as your child gets older, he will want to feel more independent. Although it is not wise to leave your teen entirely to his own devices regarding homework and social life, it is important to approach these situations more respectfully than you had to when he was younger. In many ways, your teen needs you to provide structure and support just as much as he did when he was younger.

Enforce Rules

Teens with ADHD tend to have an argumentative style and his resistance to being monitored is likely to lead to a great deal of negotiation, fighting and rebelling. It may be helpful to establish four or five nonnegotiable rules on issues you feel are essential. Examples of this can include : substance abuse, driving restrictions or curfew. The nonnegotiable rules should generally apply to issues of safety and health.  Discuss the rules you have chosen with your teen and write them down in a place where your teen can refer to them if there is any question of adherence. Explain to your teen that following the most important rules will ultimately lead to more freedom. Finally, consequences for breaking the rules should be clearly stated and followed through on, to enforce consistency.

Negotiate Effectively

Parenting a teen with ADHD involves a lot of negotiation, as one of the most common symptoms is a large amount of impulsivity and an inability to wait long. Effective negotiation allows you to resolve conflicts, while respecting your teen's increasing desire for independence. Although the ultimate goal is to eventually lead your teen to a place where he can manage his own behavior, it is important for parents to use the critical teen years to establish a routine of rules and consequences for certain selective critical issues. Defining the problem is the first step to negotiation, followed by both parties contributing problem solving ideas. Once each solution is evaluated, parents and teens need to select one that they can both live with. The final step to negotiation is determining how it is going to be implemented, including the rewards for complying and the consequences for breaking the agreement.

Develop a Positive Attitude

Teens with ADHD often meet frustration, rejection and failure at school as well as their social life, making the presence of a supportive and sensitive parent that much more important. According to research, the presence of at least one supportive adult in the life of a teen with ADHD is crucial to determining future success. Make sure that you invest a healthy amount of quality time in your teen, by engaging in activities you both enjoy. Your personal connection to each other is a key factor in being able to work through the challenges your teen faces.

Maintain Personal Support

Parenting a child with ADHD can be overwhelming and exhausting. Parents need to understand that it is perfectly acceptable for them to take care of themselves in order to also care for their teen. This might come in the form of professional therapy or simply scheduled breaks. However you decide to support yourself as the parent of a teen with ADHD, understand that you will be a better parent and give your child a better chance of success if you are able to reflect as calm and centered an example as possible.

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