Dear Teen Parenting Coach

Q: How Can I Make My Teen Care About Managing His Stress?

You know that mindfulness has countless benefits for anyone with ADHD. The problem? Your teen has zero interest in sitting still and listening to her breathing. Use these strategies to break through the boredom and teach your teen a basic mindfulness practice

Q: “I’ve read extensively about the benefits of mindful meditation for children and adults with ADHD. I want my teenage son to practice mindfulness, but he’s not interested in what I have to say about it. How can I encourage him to get started?”

I’ve heard this a million times: “My teen doesn’t listen to me about anything — how can I get him to listen to me about mindfulness?” And while it’s true that you can’t force your teen to care about breathing exercises or focusing on the present moment, you can take a few specific steps to make a mindfulness practice more appealing to him.

1. Get Mindfulness Apps for ADHD Brains

Let’s face facts: A teenager is more likely to care about something if it’s happening on her phone. Certain mindfulness apps (explore some of ADDitude’s top recommendations HERE and HERE) get a great response from teens. They actually look forward to meditating if it means they can spend some time on their phones — without Mom or Dad nagging them.

2. Identify Mindfulness Role Models

During the teenage years, kids start to really look outward and imagine their future accomplishments. If you want your teen to pick up a mindfulness practice, point out how athletes, actors, and other role models benefit from mindfulness in their day-to-day lives.

[How to Motivate a Teenager with ADHD]

Many celebrities — including Oprah Winfrey, Kobe Bryant, and Jerry Seinfeld — are open about how they use meditation practices daily. If your child has a particular interest — like playing soccer or painting — do a quick Google search to see if any of his heroes practice mindfulness. Knowing that mindfulness is more than just a lame thing his parents want him to try can go a long way toward your child’s consistent practice.

3. Enlist Help Closer to Home

Though your teen may not want to listen to you, she is actually looking to adults (usually those outside the family) for guidance and support. Identifying the adults whom your teen admires — and getting them on board the mindfulness train — is an indirect way to encourage the practice.

If your teen is seeing a therapist, ask if he can help educate her on the benefits of mindfulness. If she’s close to a coach, tutor, or other trusted adult, ask them to incorporate simple breathing exercises into their interactions with your teen. Your teen may not care about controlling her attention or calming her brain, but she does care about winning her track meet or nailing her next audition. Mindfulness — especially when encouraged by a trusted, non-parent role model — can help her accomplish those goals.

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The opinions and suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.