When Mom's On Mute: Communicating With Your ADHD Teen

Tough time getting through to your ADHD teen? It's time to change your communication strategy. Here are some ways to relate to your child that won't make her tune you out.

Negotiate This!

Kari is 17, going on 30. She is bright, determined, and a bit inattentive.

She resists her father’s ultimatums to clean her room and do her homework. During our coaching sessions, she said her dad treated her like a baby. We agreed that he should attend a coaching session to discuss how to make requests, instead of ultimatums, and allow his daughter to negotiate her terms, at least now and then. The shift in communication style built trust and decreased Kari’s arguments with her dad.

Note to Self

John, 15, takes a long time to answer his parents’ questions about school. This frustrates them and causes them to yell.

Many teens with ADHD process information slowly and require time to compose an answer. It is helpful for them to write down their ideas, in order to stay on in the loop and to refresh their memory later on.

I suggested that John’s parents give him a pad and pen to write down his thoughts before a conversation. I advised that they take notes, too, to show their interest in what he is saying. Their patience encouraged John to open up to them.

It's In the Details

Julia, 13, has problems with self-esteem. She thinks about her missteps more than her successes. Her parents heap on the praise, saying, “You are the best, Julia. You know we love you.” Their cheerleading, though, falls on deaf ears.

I suggested that Mom and Dad give Julia honest, specific praise instead. One afternoon, after Julia met with her teacher, her mom said, “I was impressed by the way you spoke up in the meeting with your teacher, Julia. You made your requests very clear to her. Great job!” Julia later went out with her mom for a cup of coffee and some girl talk.

Who says the teen years have to be turbulent?

Jodi Sleeper-Triplett, MCC, SCAC, is the author of the coaching manual Empowering Youth with ADHD.


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TAGS: Teens and Tweens with ADHD, ADHD Parents, ADHD Communication Skills, ADHD and Discipline

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