ADHD Teens and Dating: Relationship Advice for Parents


"How do I teach my 16-year-old son the right way to approach a girl he likes and is interested in? He is tall, handsome and a charmer, but he overwhelms them by the amount of attention he gives them (constant phone calling, for example). Plus, he will tell--within days--how much he likes her. As a result, it never takes long before the girl gives him the cold shoulder. He says he understands what I am telling about giving the girl some space and time to get to know him. But it all goes out the window when he starts pursuing someone."


Fortunately, your son has many strong features. It sounds like the areas of patience and restraint can use some help. Many with AD/HD have similar social difficulties due to impulsivity. It seems that he might not fully understand the smothering impact of his behavior. An important question to ask him would be, "Is what you are doing working?" If he feels that his active/very active pursuit is effective, your role would be in helping him to understand that he is not as successful as he sees himself. Keeping data may help him understand the need to learn another approach (i.e.: number and times of phone calls and responses; when he tells someone he likes them and when they begin to give him the cold shoulder).

It may also be possible that data will show that he is more successful than you thought and no intervention is needed. If he feels like he is not currently successful, engage his cooperation in working on curbing his impulsive behavior. Perhaps work with him to make up three rules for him to follow for social relationships. Such as, You may only call one time per day; you may only call three times without a return call; develop wording to use in the different stages in a relationship to show that he cares. The key is to work with your son to develop more effective strategies that he will feel comfortable implementing. The first rule for those who want to help is to make sure that your help is wanted. Next, make sure that what you are doing is perceived as helpful. I encourage you to ask your son how your can best help support him in this process. I wish you well.

Dr. Michele Novotni is an internationally recognized expert in the field of ADHD. She is the former president and CEO of the national Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), an inspiring speaker, best selling author, psychologist, coach and parent of a young adult with AD/HD. She is the author of Adult AD/HD and What Does Everybody Else Know That I Don't?.

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