Reply To: ADHD 15 yr old Stepson

Penny Williams

Think about behavior as a symptom. Why do they not wash their hands after the toilet? Why do they wear the same clothes for a week? What are they chronically late? There are reasons behind these behaviors, and they are likely tied to ADHD. They are not character flaws o moral failings.

Executive functioning deficits common with ADHD make sequencing, planning, organization, and working memory more difficult. All of those things go into these tasks you’ve listed. They probably forget washing hands because it feels like they are finished with the task after toileting. My son is the same way. He will do it with a reminder to go back, so it’s not a refusal. Also, many boys and men I know swear they’re not touching anything germy when they pee — which is totally false! They’re touching germs to aim and touching germs to flush.

Wearing the same clothes for a week means a lack of awareness or a lack of prioritizing the reasons it might be important to wear different clothes each day. Or, it could be something sensory or certain clothes make them comfortable and then less anxious.

Remember, ADHD is a developmental disability and those with ADHD are typically 2-3 years behind same-age peers in a lot of skills and developmental areas. The means your boys are 12 and 14, at best, in a lot of ways. That’s a big difference in expectations.

Our therapist once told me that kids with ADHD will “misbehave” knowingly as much as their neurotypical peers. The rest can be attributed to ADHD.

6 Truths About Child Behavior Problems That Unlock Better Behavior

When I was a kid, I sat around and watched a lot of tv. I don’t have ADHD. I’m a successful, functioning adult. Kids need a break to emotionally heal after a school year. They work so hard and struggle so much in that environment.

If you want them to do more activity, encourage volunteering, a part-time job, or an active hobby like biking.

A phrase I remind myself of often, and use as my parenting compass is: Your child isn’t giving you a hard time, they’re having a hard time.”

Your Child Is Not Giving You a Hard Time. Your Child Is Having a Hard Time.

ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism