Parenting Strategies for Teens with ADHD: Set Goals and Be a Good Example

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Even the best parents struggle to understand and parent their teen with ADHD. Creating a peaceful and well-functioning home environment for the entire family can be very challenging at times. However, there are several simple steps parents can take to help their teen with ADHD and create more peace in the home.

Set a Good Example for Your Teen with ADHD

It’s important for parents to recognize how much their children and teens watch their behavior and responses. Parents of teens with ADHD should try their best to set a good example of self-control and display calm responses and controlled reactions, even in stressful situations. Think about the areas your teen with ADHD struggles and make it a point to model healthy responses and behavior patterns in those areas. When challenging situations arise, parents can model how to express their anger and frustration in a calm way. It’s important parents stay consistent in their responses and avoid excessive lecturing. Act as you would like your teen to act.

Set Attainable Goals for Your Teen with ADHD

In times of discipline or peace, set goals with your teen that are challenging yet attainable. Set one goal at a time with your teen and work with them to achieve that goal. This can apply to their schoolwork and also to their behavior. The ultimate goal is to continue a pattern of setting goals until a positive behavior becomes routine.

Build a Relationship with Your Teen

It’s common for the strain and tension at home to cause a divide between the parents and the teen with ADHD. One of the best ways a parent can support their teen is to simply spend time with them. Parents should regularly find ways to create positive experiences and interactions with their teen. Do not expect these interactions to always go perfectly, but find activities that incorporate your teen’s interests and their strengths.

Another tool parents can use to bond with their teen is by simply spending 15 minutes each day focusing on only them by talking to them. These 15 minutes should be spent giving your teen your undivided attention. During this time, let your teen openly vent and share his or her emotions and feelings. Ask your teen about their life and listen to them without judgement. Teens with ADHD want to be heard. Take interest in their interests and be there to support and encourage them during times of both success and failure.

Give Your Teen with ADHD Praise and Positive Reinforcement

When a parent is frustrated, it is common for them overlook their teen’s positive behaviors. However, it’s extremely important for parents of teens with ADHD to look for their teens strengths and positive behaviors. Parenting expert Sal Severe, Ph.D, tells parents, “Catch your child being good or doing something well, and praise her. By praising desirable behaviors, you teach her what you want—not what you don’t want.” Even in the midst of struggle, look for your teen’s strengths and follow-up with praise and positive reinforcement. In times of discouragement, stay positive, and know that with the proper help and supports, your teen with ADHD can learn and succeed. Parents must remember they do not have to provide this support on their own.