Learn About Living as a Teen with ADD

Symptoms Can Continue Into Adolescence

Students taking exam, teacher in background
Peter Cade/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Adolescence can be a difficult time for anyone. Teens are beginning a transition period in their lives, moving away from childhood and into adulthood. Pressures increase. Expectations are raised. Academics and social issues become even more complex. Feelings of self-consciousness and insecurities may be raised. Self-esteem is often more fragile.

Peers become an increasingly important presence in a teen’s life, often even more influential than parents.

Peer pressure takes on a greater role. As they begin to experience more and more freedom and independence, adolescents may engage in risky behaviors. Decisions must be made about alcohol, smoking, drugs, and sexual activity. Behaviors are often impulsive.

Living with ADHD as an Adolescent

Though many people think of ADHD as a childhood condition, symptoms can continue into the adolescent and adult years. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 80 percent of those who required medication for ADHD as children still need it as teenagers. A teen learning to cope with all the other changes that come about with puberty and increased independence also has the added issue of living with ADHD.

A teen with ADHD may experience the world as a frustrating whirlwind. Planning ahead, finishing work, staying on track, organizing activities, following conversations - these tasks often require exhausting effort.

Obstacles may seem insurmountable. Teens with ADHD may experience feelings of restlessness.

Strategies to Help with These Challenges

With so many challenges, how can a parent help their ADHD teen to maintain a positive direction and an even keel?  While nothing will make it easy to breeze through the teenage years, some simple strategies can make a big difference.

Here are just a few ideas to help manage the experience:

  • A regular routine, daily planner, and checklists are all helpful. Reduce clutter and organize home and school items.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Many teens are sleep deprived. All teens, whether or not they have ADHD, need to get plenty of sleep. Physical exercise and good nutrition are also important. A good sense of humor is essential.
  • It is helpful for teens to receive frequent feedback that is clear and specific. Focusing on strengths and using praise is always more effective than only focusing on the negatives.

If you are a parent of an adolescent with ADHD, be sure to keep in good communication with your child’s teachers. Nurture your relationship with your teen and provide him with plenty of support and love.