13 Tips For Parenting Teens With ADHD
The teen years are hard on both parents and the teens themselves. You both will face trials and times that you’re just not sure if you’ll make it through. Inevitably you do and you’ll look back on these times with fond memories and sometimes thanks that you both made it out alive.
Parenting a teen is difficult enough but when you add in the element of ADHD, it presents it’s own new set of challenges. There are a few tips and tricks that you can do to help you both survive these very trying years ahead of you. Keep these in mind as you go through the ups and downs with your child.
Start With The Basics – Write down the rules you want your teen to follow and keep them where you both can see them daily. Consider a contract between you and your teen for such items as watching their younger sister or brother and your rules for using the family vehicle. Similar to younger children, teens function better with facts that are not left open to interpretation. Make sure they understand what you expect from them and what the consequences would be if it’s not properly handled.
Boundaries are a Must – While you’re upset about something that has happened, do not make statements you do not plan on enforcing. If you don’t plan on them losing their phone for a week or missing the big birthday party, don’t use that as a disciplinary action. Stick with what you know you’ll enforce and maybe consider waiting until you’ve calmed down to discuss punishment for their actions.
Discuss Options with Them – Consider a family meeting and discuss what the possible consequences are of their actions with them. While you’re home is not a democracy, they can put in their opinions on consequences and what they can expect if they misbehave. Don’t forget to enforce whatever you decide is the proper consequence for their actions or lack thereof.
Focus on Now – Try not to bring up past failures or actions when you’re discussing something in the present. This is not good for anyone and can lead to even more frustration. Avoid lengthy lectures of their past transgressions or even saying “I told you so”.
Take a Deep Breath – Remember, you can set the tone for the situation at hand. While it can be quite difficult to keep your anger in check, you need to stay calm during the chat with your teen. A shouting match will not get anything accomplished. If you’re too upset at the time of the offense to discuss it rationally, wait for a little bit until everyone has calmed down. Then you’re able to discuss the behavior and enforce the consequences you have set out.
Expect Mess Ups – Your teen will mess up from time to time. Your teen with ADHD may have different behavior issues arise but they all do things wrong from time-to-time. This may present different struggles for you both but understand that your teen processes things differently. Try to think a step ahead of your teen with ADHD and anticipate ways to avoid or at least handle situations that may arise.
Be a Rock – There are some situations and topics that you can not falter your beliefs or stand on. On those particular situations, you must be firm on your belief. Do not waver on behaviors that may be illegal or dangerous for your teen. Your teen with ADHD is more apt to engage in these type of behaviors because impulsiveness is a part of dealing with ADHD. Teens need to know what the consequences are and the dangers of behaviors such as using drugs or drinking and driving. You can not falter in your consequences or these actions and they should be prepared for what you expect.
Stay Positive – No one likes to hear about all the bad things they have done. Even adults want to be encouraged, and your teen with ADHD is no different. Remind them of the positive things they have done and be sure to encourage them on a daily basis. Praise them when you notice positive behaviors.
Hear What They’re Saying – Explaining your feelings is hard for some people but especially so with ADHD on your side. Be sure you help your teenager learn how to express the feelings and emotions they have. Set some boundaries such as no cursing or insulting and let your teen vent about their feelings and frustrations. Do not interrupt them while they are talking as long as they follow your guidelines. Then think about what they have said for a time and promise to come back to the discussion. Really listening to what they say helps them feel respected and heard, which is what everyone wants.
Encourage Smart Eating – Good nutrition is key for everyone but when your teen has ADHD, it can truly effect their behavior. There have been many instances where children and teens with ADHD have much better days when their nutrition is balanced. Try to have regular meal times with nutritional foods each day. Avoid sugars and artificial dyes whenever possible. Keeping those things out of your teens diet can help them remain calm and have better actions.
Allow Them to Choose – You’re not only trying to make it through the teen years alive, you need to teach your child how to be an adult. They will have to make choices of their own in the future so start them now. Allow them to make the choice of certain daily activities or events. This not only teaches them a lesson, it also helps them feel like they have some control in an otherwise uncontrollable situation.
Be Social – While teen years are awkward in themselves, combining ADHD with teen years can be quite scary and difficult. Work on social skills with your teen such as listening to someone without interrupting them or how to have a conversation.
Compassion Goes Along Way – Always remember, there are some behaviors your teen can not control. A few of those behaviors you may find are disorganization and even forgetting important items. This is not their fault and you must keep this in mind when dealing with certain situations. While there is no excuse for behaviors that are deliberately done, you can set up goals with your child and their teachers so that everyone has better days.