Raising a tween or teen can be a challenge. When the child has ADHD, it can be even more challenging.
A study from Massachusetts General Hospital found that teens with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are more likely to partake in risky behavior, such as smoking and abusing drugs, than their peers who don’t have the disorder. Other studies have shown that teens with ADHD are not only more likely to experiment with drugs, but more likely to do so at an earlier age, to boot. They are also more prone to depression and suicide.
None of this is inevitable, though. Here is some advice on how to better deal with the issues that parents of tweens and teens, with ADHD, contend with:
- Educate Yourself: “The first and most important thing I would suggest is that parents educate themselves as much as they can about ADHD and ADHD symptoms,” says Ari Tuckman, PsyD. Knowing what to expect from your child could help to make it easier to deal with issues if and when they arise. If you are better prepared, you will be able to react in ways that will help your child rather than hurt him or her.
- Educate Your Child: Teens are generally not good at recognizing the consequences of risky behaviors; and for teens with ADHD, they probably are even poorer at understanding cause and effect. Tuckman says, “As a parent, you need to talk to your child about ADHD and about how risky situations are more likely to lead to certain outcomes. That way, your teen may be more likely to understand the consequences of his actions and try to avoid situations that could be riskier.” For example, suppose your teen with ADHD doesn’t get along well with a classmate who takes the same bus to school. Explain that getting in trouble is therefore a lot more likely, if your teen sits near that classmate. Take the time to be clear and thoroughly explain such situations.
Every teenager, with ADHD or not, needs structure and support. As a parent, you can provide the proper support and intervene when necessary. When you know what you are doing and are prepared, you can help your teen with ADHD through this extra-challenging time.