If your teen has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it is important to know how to help them cope and to support them in becoming a well-functioning adult. Remember that your teen’s diagnosis does not define them and there are many opportunities for growth and development.
First and foremost, aim to choose compassion and empathy over short tempers and frustration with your teen. It is likely that your teen often feels frustrated themselves so try to remain positive and encouraging. Symptoms such as forgetfulness or distractedness are not chosen behaviors so avoid criticizing these too heavily, and instead work with your teen to set positive goals.
With compassion and patience in mind, it is still extremely important to set boundaries with your teen and to follow through on them. Do not excuse voluntary risky behaviors such as shoplifting or vandalizing property as symptoms of your teen’s diagnosis. Enforce consequences as you usually would. When possible, work with your teen on what consequences are appropriate before instances occur.
One of the most significant difficulties your teen may face as they learn to live with ADHD is school performance. Find out what accommodations are available for your teen at their school and work with their teachers on possible strategies. If necessary, hire a tutor to provide your child with extra academic support and help them stay organized as much as possible. It is important to keep your teen involved in these discussions and decisions when possible, as they are the ones who ultimately need to fulfill their academic requirements.
Every single one of us learns to develop our social skills throughout our adolescence and teens living with ADHD are no different. They may, however, struggle in this area so pay attention if your child is isolated from their peers or shows signs that they are being bullied at school. Encourage your teen to participate in extracurricular activities and to build positive relationships. Social therapy is also an option if your teen continues to struggle.
Look for Support
Remember that you and your teen are not alone as you look for ways to cope with their ADHD diagnosis. Teachers, therapists and doctors are all excellent resources to help your child build positive strategies.
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