Teenagers with ADHD have a lot on their plate. The teen years are hard enough without also having to deal with the challenges and obstacles that can come along with an ADHD diagnosis. One of the most important things that parents of ADHD teens can do is to be as supportive as possible of their child as they navigate through these years. A supportive parent is one who works to increase their understanding of the condition, their understanding of how the condition impacts their child, and to assist their child in finding resources and strategies for managing the disorder. Being a supportive parent does not mean making excuses for bad behavior, allowing teens to blame their condition for their problems, or failing to hold teens accountable because they have ADHD. You can support your ADHD teen by focusing your energy and following these tips.
1. Be Positive
You child’s feelings and thoughts about their ADHD are likely to mirror your own. This means that if you look at this condition as a disability that will keep your child from achieving the things you want for them; they will look at it that way too. Adolescents with ADHD are constantly being bombarded by negative messages from the world around them and what they need from their parents is positive input to help counteract all the negativity.
2. Focus on Strengths
Your teen will spend a lot of time focused on all the reasons that ADHD makes their life difficult and challenging, they don’t need their parents to be focused on those aspects of the condition too. One of the most supportive things you can do is to focus on the strengths and gifts ADHD gives your child.
3. Listen, then Talk
Unless you have ADHD as well, you and your child are living in different worlds. You cannot possibly understand what it is like to live in your child’s world which means listening to them is critically important. One of the things ADHD teens, regardless of their symptoms, struggle with is that others don’t see the world through their eyes and don’t get things the way they do. This can be very alienating, especially when the most consistent message they get is that they are thinking, seeing, or doing everything wrong. Rather than trying to get your child to see the world your way, be supportive by acknowledging that they come at things from a different direction and listen so that they feel heard and know that they are not alone.
4. Know What is ADHD and What is Not
One of the things many parents of ADHD teens struggle with is remembering that some of their behavior issues are not their fault. ADHD symptoms and the struggles they cause for teenagers can look a lot like regular teenage acting out. Parents can do their teens a great disservice if they are unable to differentiate between unacceptable teenage behavior that their teen can easily control and behavior resulting from ADHD symptoms. Understanding that these are different and dealing with them as different issues is one of the most important ways parents can be supportive of their ADHD teens.