Teens with ADHD

5 Ways to Steer Your Teen Without Hovering

Is your teen with ADD or ADHD striving for independence, but floundering? Use these tricks for improving your teen’s executive functioning skills, without helicoptering.

It’s completely normal (and natural) for your adolescent to explore her independence as she enters the teen years, and start to pull away from Mom and Dad.

The only problem for teenagers with ADHD is that executive functioning skills can be up to three years behind schedule — meaning your child’s ability to plan, remember, and execute her growing responsibilities could be impaired.

In this video, find 5 key strategies for improving executive functioning skills, and while helping teens take the reins.

5 Ways to Steer Your Teen Without Hovering

Executive functions are the brain-based skills that help us:

  • Regulate behavior
  • Set and achieve goals
  • Balance wants with needs
  • Function independently

Here’s the problem: These skills don’t fully develop in a teen with ADHD until age 30 — and that impacts his or her ability to

  • take on more responsibility
  • enjoy more freedom
  • manage life independently

Here, learn how to teach and coach your adolescent through executive function challenges without helicoptering.

1. Avoid emotional minefields.

Focus on your teen’s problem or frustration, and how to solve it — not on her deficiencies. If your teen feels insulted, she’ll tune out any constructive advice.

Model emotional control for your teen. That means walking away from, or de-escalating, situations that don’t merit an argument.

2. Use natural consequences.

Sometimes your teen’s own actions are punishment enough – like when she exceeds her phone’s data plan and can’t use it anymore.

Resist the urge to rescue her. This will strengthen the mental connection between cause and effect.

3. Link privileges to performance.

For example, if your son finishes all his chores, he can go to his friend’s party on Saturday.

Completing longer, multi-step tasks should unlock special privileges that he enjoys, like extra screen time or a night out with friends.

4. Let your teen negotiate.

When a problem arises, ask your child how she would like to solve it.

Teens are more likely to participate in a plan if they feel they are an equal partner in creating the rules.

Helping create and set boundaries also improves self-awareness, working memory, and problem-solving skills.

5. Involve others.

Try asking an outsider – like a coach — to help your teen improve time management.

Mentors without ADHD can demonstrate how adults manage the condition, minus the tension that often exists between teens and parents.

Learn more about executive functions and how they affect teens here: http://additu.de/teenefd

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Peg Dawson, Ed.D., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Medical Review Panel.