SUPPORTING TEENAGERS WITH ADHD
Assuming the teenager has been diagnosed and treated now or in the past, these are some issues that have been shared as specific teenage struggles.
© adders.org 2004
1. Organisational Help
First of all, teenagers like to be independent, solve for themselves but can use some suggestions they may wish to pursue to assist themselves. Numerous stores offer very innovative structures
to help provide assists to organization. Locker shelving, home components to organize their room and drug stores offer organizational containers for remembering their pills. Middle school is often a difficult transition due to the increase in teachers, assignments, class changes and numerous expectations. Check early in the year with your teenager and the school to make sure they are adapting to these increased expectations.
Part of the teenager normal growth is the struggle to want help and not want help. Parenting used to be easier when you could just do it for them. Now parenting requires supportive listening. Often your adolescent just wants you to listen not do for them and offer support without telling them what to do. This is difficult when you love them and don't want to see them hurt in any way. Part of parenting a teen is to help them solve on their own with loving support.
The struggles to work through a problem, help them to believe in themselves and know they can solve other struggles when parents are not there.
3. Refusing to Take Medications
There are times when a teenager decides they don't like their medication and refuses to take it anymore. This is part of their normal growth where they wish to control their own body and decide what is best for them. As difficult as this is, it may also provide an opportunity for the adolescent to assess himself and his real needs. When a child is older, it is nearly impossible to force them to comply. What can be considered is the opportunity for them to assess themselves responsibly and honestly whether off medications they are functioning to the fullest of their capabilities. If they are refusing but still have significant characteristics that are intruding on their abilities, parents may consider setting some boundaries to seek help, re-assess if their current medication is sufficient, if an adjustment is needed or perhaps another medication could be more supportive.
Freedom is earned! The more accountable a teenager is in making good decisions that support their capabilities the more parents are able to trust. When a teen makes a mistake it can be viewed as a learning opportunity. For mistakes there are consequences, privileges may be decreased or rescinded for a brief period of time to help the teen learn to accept responsibility for their choices. This is part of learning how to be accountable for your actions and does help an adolescent believe in themselves that when things do not go right they can re-right it. If the mistakes or choices continue that are not supportive of good decision making, parents can set stronger boundaries stating that at this time you are demonstrating that it is still difficult for you to make healthy choices and you need intervention until trust can be earned again. Believe it or not, teens like that parents care, that they are willing to stand up and set boundaries when their behavior is out of control, that you love them enough to take the flak of being able to say NO when required.
5. Listen, Listen, Love
Any teen and especially those with any kind of extra struggles needs unending support and love. This can be very hard during adolescence where there are times they do not wish to tell you anything and other brief times where they will unloaded the world in 5 minutes or less. Unless you feel your adolescent is in some kind of danger, a parent needs to be more flowing, shift with the teen needs, accept when they don't want to tell and stop all when they wish to share. This is very difficult for parents because it is the beginning of seeing their child grow up, they don't need them like before. But in truth, they need parents just as much but in a different, more beginning grown up way where they begin to decide what they can handle and seek you out when they wish. Parents can learn to support teens in a more subtle, behind the scenes way unless they see the teen is out of control or making non-healthy choices then boundaries are appropriate.
If you are concerned that with all your interventions your teenager is still out of control, or not doing well with or without medications, consider re-assessment.