Most people associate ADHD with young children. However, if your teenager wasn’t diagnosed as a child, or if you haven’t sought out treatment or management techniques until now, it’s important to navigate the waters of ADHD with your teenager. In just a few years, your teen will be on their own, and it’s essential that they know how to manage their ADHD effectively.
There are many adults with ADHD that function well through the use of daily management techniques, medication, and consistent support. You can help your teenager achieve that by working with them now. So, how can you navigate ADHD with your teen? Let’s look at five things you should be doing now to help them through these important years while preparing them for the future.
1. Be Realistic
Your goal shouldn’t be to “cure” your teenager. We believe at SCT that ADHD isn’t a disorder that needs to be fixed. In fact, there are several gifts that ADHD can bring and it’s important to honor and tap into those strengths. From this perspective, ADHD is something that can be managed. It’s important to set realistic management goals with your teenager. In doing so, you’ll provide support rather than stress. You’ll guide them rather than pressure them. Don’t expect too much from them without teaching them to manage their lagging skills first, and make sure your expectations are realistic. If you don’t, you’ll spend much of your time frustrated and upset, and that can create an unhealthy environment for you and your teenager.
2. Let Them Make Mistakes
It’s normal for any parent to want to protect their child from harm. No one wants to see their child “fail” at any age. However, mistakes are a part of life. They can actually end up being helpful and causing growth, especially for teens with ADHD. Letting your teenager make safe mistakes will teach them responsibility and accountability. That’s important for everyone, but for someone with ADHD, learning from mistakes will help them make better, more responsible choices as they approach adulthood.
3. Monitor Them Appropriately
When you have a child with ADHD, you might need to monitor them more frequently. It can take longer for kids with ADHD to mature emotionally, which can sometimes lead to dangerous decisions and behaviors. As a teen, however, it’s important to find a healthy balance with your monitoring.
Teenagers want and deserve privacy. If your teen wants to spend some time alone, give that to them in appropriate ways. Trust is earned, and they need to show that they can be responsible on their own before you give them a bit more room. However, don’t hold that against them. It’s okay to show them trust and give them space before they’ve “proven” to you that they can handle it. If they then show that they aren’t able to have a lot of privacy, put more boundaries back in place until they are.
4. Don’t Restrict Their Independence
In addition to giving your teen more privacy, don’t hold the reins too tightly, either. If they’re proving that they can be responsible and make smart decisions, give them more independence. Do it gradually to ensure they’re being safe and making the right choices. Choosing to restrict their healthy independence will stunt your teen’s emotional growth and can make it harder for them to step out into the “real world.” So, while it might be difficult to loosen the reins, it’s often what’s best for their growth and overall well-being.
5. Pick Your Battles
It’s certainly not uncommon for teenagers and parents to clash and argue. It can be an even bigger issue when you have a teen with ADHD, especially if you’re overprotective. Keep in mind that not everything is worth fighting over. It’s okay to disagree sometimes without having a major blowup. Pick your battles wisely, and you’ll both benefit and grow from them.
Still struggling to navigate ADHD with your teen? Start by using these tips, and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have or to set up an appointment. It’s important for you to have support, too, so you can effectively work with your teen without feeling overwhelmed.