Ask the Experts

Q: Am I Babying My Teen with ADHD?

Are you babying your teen with ADHD by requiring him to show you his completed homework, or limiting his daily screen time, or requiring tutoring sessions? The short answer is no. You are teaching him valuable lessons about accountability, which unlocks independence in time.

Ask your question about ADHD in boys here!

Q: “Even though my son is 16, he often acts and makes decisions like a middle schooler. Some of these issues have their own natural consequence, like getting a zero on an assignment. But, I can see that he might get a zero because he has difficulty seeing how his poor planning in the moment will effect him down the road. His self sabotage has much higher stakes as he gets older. Is it appropriate to have some ‘middle school level’ interventions, like a schedule for playing video games and requiring that he show his homework before he can play them, as well as benchmarks such as ‘After you have studied with a tutor and alone for all midterms and taken all midterms, we can schedule your driver’s permit’? He feels babied and I am left unsure if I am intervening too much by trying to train good school behavior…”

A: “You’re right that your son’s chronological age is not consistent with his executive-functioning age, which is the essence of ADHD. In regard to him feeling babied, I think he needs to hear a very short, consistent message that you are putting supports in place to help him learn accountability. Don’t try to reason with him or make him feel better; explain to him that as his brain develops and he becomes better at these things, you will pull back.”


Not Babying Teens with ADHD: Next Steps

1. Read This: How to Teach Independence to Even the Most Irresponsible Teen
2. Read This: 5 Critical Life Skills That Build Independence
3. Share This Article with Your Teen: 6 Truths for Living (and Succeeding) Independently with ADHD

Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel.

Submit your questions about ADHD in boys here!