GROWING UP ADD: THE TEEN YEARS
Get Your Teen Ready for Life
12 ways to help your child meet challenges. BY RICHARD GUARE, PEG DAWSON, AND COLIN GUARE
PARENTS WALK A TIGHTROPE TRYING to help their ADHD teens get ready to take responsibilities on their own.
Perhaps you are a micromanager and you’ve
been acting as your teen’s “surrogate frontal
lobe.” Now that he’s older, you’re getting
some pushback from him, and you wonder if
there’s a way to step back without seeing him
Perhaps your daughter gladly accepts
your assistance in getting organized and at-
tending to everyday chores, but you’re un-
sure about how much to help her. You don’t
want her to become dependent on you, but
you don’t want her to fail. Maybe your son
has dug in and refuses to acknowledge that
he has any challenges at school or his job, but
you feel that if you don’t push him to act, he
won’t be able to overcome his problems.
Provide Only the
Help Your Teen Needs
E Whenever possible, communicate indirectly—using a note or text message.
The idea is to create distance between you
and your teen, so that the cue can work without both of you being in the same place at the
R Send notes, don’t nag. A
voicemail, note, or text message reminding your son to
empty the dishwasher before
he goes to the dance may get
him to do it. Nagging won’t. In
the case of regular chores or
routines, try reminders for a
few weeks. Then stop prompting him and see if he does the chore on his
own. If not, return to the reminders.
T Ask your teen to develop his own cues.
This is a way to hand off the skill to the teen, so
she can remind herself in her own way.
U Edit your words. When it comes to reminders, parents talk too much, include lessons and lectures, and use an irritated voice.
This frequently leads to conflict.
I Use an outside expert to teach your
child a skill. If teens are going to be independent problem solvers, they need to use
people and information, not their parents,
to help them. While we all feel good when
our teen asks us for help from time to time,
this does not increase their independence,
unless they internalize the information and
stop coming to us.
LEFT: STOCKBYTE/THINKSTOCK, RIGHT: ISTOCKPHOTO/THINKSTOCK
Identify One Challenge
and the Times It Occurs
O Let your teen choose which challenge
to work on first, and how to address it. It
could be moving too slowly in the morning
or driving carelessly. Anything that increases
your teen’s interest in the problem increases
her investment in solving it.
P If your teen is open to help, choose a
goal for which implementation is shared.
By letting your teen decide in what way you
can help, you decrease the burden the task