Parents often ask me how they can get through to their attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) teenager. The disability adds stress to the task of communicating with a son or daughter who is already dealing with peer pressure and increased hormone levels. Most of the problems stem from a teen’s difficulty controlling what she says or does. Stress and conflict exacerbate her impulsivity. Reducing stress, verbal insults, and tension in your teen’s life will minimize the problems and clear the way for calmer communication and moments of discipline.
As a parent of two ADD/ADHD children, and as one who has ADD/ADHD myself, I found the following strategies helpful:
Communicating With Your ADD/ADHD Teen
Most ADD/ADHD teenagers need to have the last word in a conversation. You ask your son to do something, and he explains why he can’t. You resolve his concern, and he comes up with another one. It never ends. Peers are less understanding about a know-it-all, and will, after a while, write off your teen as a friend.
Explain to your teenager that it is not his fault that he behaves this way. It is due to his ADD/ADHD. Tell him that there is nothing wrong with occasionally having the last word, but when it happens all the time, it seems that he thinks he’s always right.
Becoming aware of how often he does it is the key to his minimizing it. Practice by having a mock debate with him, in which he lets you have the last word. Then, in the course of conversations over a three-day period, see how often he succeeds. Do not reward or punish him based on the results. Help him improve. This activity can be repeated as often as the teen is willing.
This article appeared in the Fall 2011 issue of ADDitude. SUBSCRIBE TODAY to ensure you don't miss a single issue.