Living with a teen that has ADD/ADHD can be somewhat aggravating and overwhelming to deal with. However, as a parent, there are plenty of things that you can do to help keep the symptoms at bay or at least to a minimum. There are tools, resources, and methods that can help parents assist their teens in getting through life’s challenges, refocusing on positivity, and hopefully bringing a clam to your family. The sooner you address and learn to help your teen, the better chances they have for lifelong success.
What You Should Know
A teen with ADD/ADHD typically has a deficit that hinders their ability to think, plan, control impulse, and follow through on tasks. As a result, you will need to step up and take over the responsibility of providing your teen with the guidance that they need until they are able to successfully execute things on their own.
While it can be downright hectic to deal with the symptoms of a teen with ADD/ADHD, it does help to keep in mind that they are not acting out intentionally. They want to do things right, but are unable to execute them properly. Therefore, keep in mind that your teen is likely just as frustrated, if not more than you are.
ADD/ADHD and the Family
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss
Part of effectively parenting a teen with ADD/ADHD is knowing how their symptoms will affect their environment, which is especially important if your teen is at boarding school. Some of the common issues within family life are:
- Hearing instructions but not following them
- Easily distracted and disorganized
- Rarely cleaning up after themselves
- Interrupting conversations and demanding attention
- Outbursts of embarrassing comments
- Ripping and running around the home
There is also an impact that siblings go through as well. Because parents are dealing with the teen with ADD/ADHD, siblings are often left feeling as if their needs aren’t being met.
- Siblings feel that their errors are extremely punished and their successes are overlooked
- Siblings are often left with the responsibility of helping to care for the teen with ADD/ADHD
- Siblings often become very resentful or jealous at the attention the other teen receives
Impact of ADD/ADHD on Parents
I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught. – Winston Churchill
- The teen’s demands become exhausting
- The constant need to watch the teen can become psychologically damaging
- The teen’s inability to listen becomes aggravating
- Frustration turns to guilt
Staying Positive and Healthy
It is going to be important that you set a good example for your teen as it pertains to emotional and physical health. The best tool for helping your teen deal with the challenges of ADD/ADHD is a positive attitude. The calmer you are when dealing with your teen, the better chance you have of connecting with your teen and getting them to stay focused with you. Some ideas on how to stay positive are: remember that your teen’s actions are the result of a disorder, don’t harp on small things, be willing to make compromises, and believe in your teen.
Another important factor as a parent is that you maintain a healthy life. When you’re health is not the best, things can easily get to you, which can cause you to lose patience and structure. You can take care of yourself by eating right, finding ways to decrease stress, exercising, get support from others, and take breaks from time to time.
Establishing and Following Through with Structure
When a teen has ADHD, it is best that tasks are presented to them in a structured and patterned way. Therefore, your responsibility is to create and maintain structure within your household so that your teen is easily able to understand what to expect and how things are supposed to go. In order to set structure and get your teen organized, you should consider things such as creating a routine to follow, use clocks and timers as reminders, simplify your teen’s schedule, create down time, and set your home up in an organized way.
Set Expectations and Rules
A teen that has ADD/ADHD requires consistent rules that are simply to follow and comprehend. When creating your rules, be sure that they are simple and clear to understand. Place the rules in an area where your teen can easily review them if necessary. The best type of method to try is the reward and consequence system which works well for teens.
Keep in mind that teens with ADD/ADHD are often reprimanded, corrected, or put on punishment as a result of their actions. Therefore when setting your rules, you want to look out for the positive behavior and praise it as much as you can. When teens receive positive reinforcements, they are more likely to behave in the long run.
Encourage Movement and Sleep
It is quite obvious that your teen has a lot of energy to burn off. Instead of trying to always prevent them from moving around, getting them involved in activities such as organized sports can help to get rid of that energy and focus their attention on positive things. Physical activity does wonders for teens with ADD: decreases depression and anxiety, promotes brain growth, and improves concentration.
Lack of sleep can make the average teen less attentive to what you’re saying. However, it is extremely difficult for teens with ADD who have not had adequate sleep. Your teen needs to get a good amount of sleep each night. By implementing a consistent bedtime they are able to get the sleep they need and better handle their symptoms. If you’re having difficulties getting your teen to sleep early, you might try things such as:
- Reduce television time
- Remove caffeine from their diet
- Create a downtime
- Cuddle with your teen 10 minutes before bed
- Use relaxation tapes for soothing the teen at night
Help Your Teen Eat Right
While what your teen eats is not a direct effect on ADD, food can easily affect their mental state which ultimately affects their behavior. By modifying and monitoring what your teen is eating you can help them to decrease the feelings. Start incorporating more fruits and veggies into their meals. Also, making sure that they eat small meals throughout the day is ideal. You can prevent the unhealthy eating by removing junk food from the home, refrain from eating fatty and sugary foods while dining out, and provide your teen with a vitamin daily.
Teach Your Teen to Make Friends
Believe it or not teens with ADD have a hard time making friends. They are often not reading social signals; they can over talk their friends, or interrupt a conversation and become aggressive which is offensive to the average teen. By showing your teen how to develop positive friendships they will feel less depressed about their disorder and also not be the target of bullying and isolation. You can help your teen improve their social skills by teaching them to become a better listener, pay attention to body language, and how to best interact in a group of peers.
Parenting a teen with ADD/ADHD can be trying, but with the right tools in place you will soon see that your teen can overcome this disorder and learn to navigate through life just fine.