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Parenting ADHD Adolescents

Parenting teenagers is challenging enough, but when parenting ADHD adolescents is part of the equation, that challenge is almost always greater. As a psychologist who has tested, consulted and counseled for many years with ADHD teenagers and their parents, here are some thoughts, tips and encouragements (some light-hearted, some not so much). A general principal that runs through these suggestions is that neither adolescence nor ADHD are to be “fixed” or cured, but more to be experienced, processed and managed with understanding, support…and a healthy sense of humor.

General Survival Tips for Parenting ADHD Adolescent

  1. Buy more liability insurance

  2. Invest in the stock of your teen’s ADHD medication

  3. Recommit to a life of prayer and regular church attendance

  4. Have brochures of military schools on coffee table

  5. Build your airline miles for parent trips only

  6. Get over ethical concerns about bribing teachers

What To Expect from an ADHD Adolescent

  1. Hormones and ADHD create confusing mix

  2. Hyperactivity will likely diminish; inattention and impulsivity…not so much

  3. Likely twists and turns on medications

  4. Even more academic inconsistency

  5. Higher risk for acting out behaviors including alcohol, drugs, sex

  6. Lots of “knucklehead”moments

  7. Entertainment, creativity, surprises

  8. ADHD “spillovers” (emotional, social)

What To Try

  1. Let go of control/power

  2. Focus on influence that comes from relationship

  3. Insist on physical activity

  4. Pick fewer battles but hold forth on the few

  5. Seriously reduce lecture, nagging, debating

  6. Set clear expectations, limits and predictable consequences

  7. Lose the emotional drama (yours, not theirs!)

  8. Shorten list of things worth the battle

  9. Work on your marriage

  10. Don’t lose your own life/identity

  11. Break negative cycle of behavior/response

  12. Be open to creative options (with school, sports, activities)

  13. Be intentional about finding “good news”

  14. Help them find their gifts and talents

What To Remember

  1. This is a season of life, not the rest of life

  2. Adolescence for our kids recycles our teenage years

  3. Goal is for them to leave home

  4. Often parent/teen conflict is a good thing

  5. Bridge to adulthood requires many travelers

  6. Most likely, all will survive

If you’re parenting an ADHD adolescent, and you’d like to explore the ways you can better prepare for the associated challenges, contact Brentwood Counseling Associates and connect with one of our experienced therapists.


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