Parenting a teenager is a very daunting task, but it is even more difficult if it is a teenager with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adolescents with ADHD find it difficult to learn and do what is required of them. Many tasks, which are quite simple for their peers, can be very difficult for such adolescents. However, it must be remembered that a teenager with ADHD is not trying to create unnecessary problems for himself and others. In fact, he or she is given a lot with b Omore work than other peers. By learning more about ADHD and being involved, you can solve the problems that come with raising this adolescent. Your support, despite the adverse circumstances, will help him / her successfully overcome all difficulties.
Part 1 of 5: Identifying ADHD
Step 1. Look closely at the difficulty of concentrating
There are two types of symptoms that can occur with ADHD. Children under the age of 17 need at least six symptoms to be diagnosed with ADHD. Signs of the first type are associated with an inability to concentrate and concentrate. Attention deficit children have the following symptoms:
- they often make mistakes due to carelessness, inattentive to details
- trouble concentrating when doing assignments and playing games
- they often get the impression that they do not notice when someone speaks to them
- they often do not complete what they have begun (task, homework, routine actions), are easily distracted by extraneous things
- they try to avoid tasks that require prolonged concentration (doing difficult homework, etc.)
- they are absent-minded and often lose keys, glasses, notebooks, pens, and so on.
- they are easy to distract
Step 2. Pay attention to hyperactivity
The second type of ADHD symptom is hyperactivity and lack of impulse control. People with this form of ADHD should have six or more of the following symptoms:
- restlessness, restlessness; constant movement of the arms and legs
- brisk movements, jumping up at inopportune moments, restlessness
- it is difficult for them to stay in place and remain calm, as well as to do anything that requires perseverance
- constant mobility, as if a motor is running inside them all the time, pushing for continuous actions
- excessive talkativeness
- "Speech incontinence": they often blur out the answer without hearing the question
- it is difficult for them to wait for their turn when talking and in other situations
- they often interrupt interlocutors, interfere with other people's conversations / games
Step 3. Learn about the causes of ADHD
The brains of people with ADHD are slightly different from those of other people. Namely, in ADHD sufferers, two areas of the brain, the basal nuclei and the prefrontal cortex, occupy slightly less volume.
- The basal nuclei control muscle movement. They send signals that tell the muscles when to move and when to stay still.
- If a child is sitting at a school desk, the basal nuclei should signal the leg muscles to remain calm. However, in the case of ADHD, the muscles may not receive these signals, so often the legs of a child with ADHD continue to move while they are sitting. Insufficient development of the basal nuclei can also lead to constant hand movements, tapping with a pencil or pen on the table.
- The prefrontal cortex is an area of the brain that plays a key role in complex tasks that require high organization. This site is responsible for memory, learning and and concentration of attention necessary for intellectual activity.
- The prefrontal cortex affects the level of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is directly related to the ability to concentrate and is below normal in people with ADHD.
- Another neurotransmitter produced in the prefrontal cortex is serotonin. It affects mood, sleep, and appetite. For example, when you eat chocolate, the amount of serotonin in your brain temporarily rises and your mood improves. Conversely, with a decrease in serotonin concentration, depression and anxiety are felt.
- The smaller size of the prefrontal cortex and lower levels of dopamine and serotonin make it much more difficult to concentrate. As a result, people with ADHD find it difficult to focus on one thing and are more easily distracted.
- The prefrontal cortex continues to develop in adolescence until full maturity is reached. This can exacerbate the difference between adolescents with ADHD and other peers.
Step 4. Take a closer look at other common signs
ADHD is often associated with other mental health problems.
- One in five people diagnosed with ADHD has some other serious disorder (often depression and bipolar disorder).
- A third of children with ADHD also have other behavioral disorders, such as conduct or oppositional defiant disorder.
- ADHD is also often accompanied by poor learning ability and frequent feelings of anxiety.
Step 5. Find out the diagnosis
If your child has any of the symptoms listed above, you should show it to the doctor for a professional opinion. In the case of ADHD, knowing the diagnosis will enable you to better understand your child's behavior and help him overcome the problems associated with the disorder.
Part 2 of 5: Treating ADHD
Step 1. Learn about ADHD-related issues
It should be remembered that ADHD is a fairly serious disorder. It does not boil down to the fact that your child simply does not want to try or lacks intelligence. Be aware of the problems associated with ADHD and try to respond to them with understanding.
- When people with ADHD try to achieve their life goals, they have to overcome serious obstacles. They often face misunderstandings. It is not uncommon for teens with ADHD to think that others think they are stupid.
- It can be difficult for others, including relatives, to understand what difficulties you and your child have to face.
- Prepare to spend a lot of time and money on treatment, doctor visits and necessary medications. It often takes a lot of time to overcome problems in school.
- As a rule, children with heightened impulsivity are more susceptible to trauma and are more likely to receive remarks about behavior in school than most of their peers.
- You will have to devote a lot of time to your child on weekdays. Accept the potential for loss in wages or find a less demanding job with a free schedule.
Step 2. Select medicines
For many people with ADHD, medication plays an important role. There are two types of drugs taken for ADHD: stimulants (such as methylphenidate and amphetamines) and non-stimulants (such as guanfacine and atomoxetine).
- It may seem odd that hyperactivity is treated with stimulants. However, brain stimulation helps control impulses and improves concentration. Stimulants such as Ritalin, Concerta and Adderall help regulate the levels of neurotransmitters (norepinephrine and dopamine). The non-stimulant drugs commonly used to treat ADHD work in a similar way.
- It is important to determine the appropriate form and method of taking the drug, which is not so easy. People react differently to certain medications. Moreover, the effectiveness of the drug depends on the growth of the child's body, the level of hormones, nutrition and current body weight, as well as the habituation of the body to this drug.
- Medication can improve concentration and reduce impulsive behavior.
- Many drugs are long-acting. This frees you from having to take them during the day when the child is at school.
- Over time, the need for medication may disappear, or they can only be taken in urgent cases, such as passing the annual or final exams.
Step 3. Give your child food to control ADHD
Eating the right diet will help reduce the negative effects of low hormone levels in your child's body. Adequate food can help alleviate unpleasant symptoms.
- A diet rich in complex carbohydrates can help increase serotonin production, which can have a positive effect on mood, sleep and appetite. Try not to give your child foods high in simple carbohydrates such as sugar, honey, jam, candy, soda, and the like. Such food will only lead to a short-term surge in serotonin. Instead, choose foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, green and starchy vegetables, and beans - these foods have a lasting impact.
- To improve concentration, feed your child protein-rich foods that contain several types of protein throughout the day. This will help raise your dopamine levels. Many proteins are found in meat, fish, nuts, beans and other legumes.
- Don't feed your child the “bad fats” found in trans fats, fried foods, burgers, and pizzas. Instead, try to fortify your diet with omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as salmon, walnuts, and avocados. This will help reduce hyperactivity while increasing organization.
- A diet rich in zinc is also beneficial. Give your child seafood, poultry, fortified cereals, and other foods high in zinc, or zinc supplements. This trace mineral helps to reduce hyperactivity and impulsivity.
- Certain spices may also be beneficial. So, saffron reduces depression, and cinnamon helps to concentrate.
Step 4. Try to prevent your child from consuming unhealthy foods
Certain foods can help cope with ADHD, while others can make unpleasant symptoms worse. For example:
- Try to prevent your child from eating foods containing artificial colors, especially red ones. Some studies have shown that food coloring can increase the symptoms of ADHD.
- The exclusion of wheat and dairy products from the diet, as well as highly processed foods, sugar, flavors and food colors, can also lead to positive results.
Step 5. Find a good therapist
Psychotherapy can help you and your child cope with ADHD-related problems. Typically, the treatment process begins with the analysis and reproduction of the family structure. The goal is to create an environment that suits the child's mindset and feels comfortable.
- Therapy is also designed to ensure that family members are comfortable so that, under the guidance of a specialist, they can get rid of frustration and other mental problems.
- It is very helpful for people with ADHD to understand their condition and find out that they are supported by others.
Step 6. Use methods to monitor your behavior every day
In addition to psychotherapy sessions, there are ways to manage your ADHD symptoms on a daily basis. For example:
- Talk with the teachers to have your child sit in a more comfortable chair or bungee chair that they bring from home during lessons. This will reduce the noise it creates, and it will be much less likely to jump up from a place.
- To cope with the constant restless hand movements, teach your child to use a stress ball, which he can wrinkle in his hands instead of tapping on the table with a pen or fingers. This ball is especially useful during exams.
- Consider letting your child play compact electronic games (such as a smartphone) by muffling the sound in situations that require long waiting times. This will help him sit quietly in place (in a queue, a restaurant, the emergency room of a polyclinic, and so on).
- Just before you need to be calm, try giving your child a chance to let off steam and “run out”. For example, let him jump or run to and from an adjacent fence. It really helps.
Part 3 of 5: Developing Helpful Parenting Skills
Step 1. Observe the regime
The key to success lies in consistent and systematic adherence to the established regime, combined with the correct organization. This will reduce the stress experienced by a child with ADHD. It will also reduce the deviations from the correct behavior that are triggered by stress.
- For children with ADHD, the various tasks should be broken down into small steps and given sequentially or in writing. After successfully completing each step, the parents should reward the child.
- Create a specific schedule to help you achieve your goal by completing the individual steps sequentially. Ask your child to memorize the sequence of actions and repeat it out loud.
- This helps a lot when performing routine work, which can be broken down into small steps, drawing up a detailed action plan. For example, imagine that a child is tasked with mowing the lawn outside the house. You can break the task down into stages by asking him / her to cut the grass first in front of the porch, then in front of the house, and finally in the backyard. At the end of each step, praise your child by noting that the trimmed grass looks beautiful. If there are multiple assignments to be completed during the day, make a written plan. And praise your child again after completing each point of the plan.
- The less stress the better. Success in various tasks will lead to increased self-esteem. This, in turn, will increase the chances of future success.
Step 2. Reduce the likelihood of problems when doing housework and other daily tasks
For this type of work, a constant mode is important. Schedule household chores.
- Housework should be done regularly and consistently: at the same time, in the same place every day. Get all the tools and supplies you need and keep them in the right place.
- Do not entrust your child with housework as soon as he steps into the house. First, give him the opportunity to have a little fun to release excess energy.
- When entrusting your child with some work, show him, if possible, how you would do it yourself and advise how best to organize the work. Break the big assignment into parts and schedule the end of each stage.
- It is also good to coordinate your plans with your teacher whenever possible. Does the teacher give homework in the form of a list, or is the use of organizers encouraged at school? Get a big enough organizer for your daily notes and show your child how to use it.
- Reduce the likelihood of not doing chores around the house by scheduling them at the same time. If possible, try to regularly reward your child for the work done. For example, store your video game console in a secluded place and give it to your child when you complete some work.
- Provide visual reminders to your child of the chores that need to be done. A calendar, a graph on the wall, or stickers will make the “I forgot” excuse irrelevant.
Step 3. Schedule extra activities during school holidays
Fall, winter, spring, and summer vacations can be a nightmare for both children with ADHD and their parents. During the holidays, the usual routine is disrupted. When planning your vacation ahead of time, make sure it doesn't wreak havoc on your family.
During the holidays, you can replace missing school lessons with other regular activities. Enroll your child in a club or sports section with regular activities. This will allow you to follow the usual routine
Step 4. Organize your environment
People with ADHD are constantly trying to find meaning in their environment. Parents can help their child arrange a suitable environment at home.
- Create a convenient storage system that allows you to sort them into categories and avoid clutter.
- Place a large drawer or box in an accessible place that can be used to store items left by your child around the house, such as clothing, books, and toys. This will make cleaning the house easier. In addition, your child can easily find their forgotten things.
Step 5. Resolve conflicts between children
It is important to think about how the siblings of a child with ADHD perceive the situation. It is important that other children understand the reasons why their siblings receive special attention.
- Some parents believe that other children will understand why their siblings with special needs are given so much time. In fact, children may resent the fact that their sibling is given much more attention, less housework is being assigned to him / her, and the success of a child with ADHD is much more rewarded than that of his / her siblings.
- Talk to the children sincerely by explaining the situation to them. Try to use language appropriate for their age and not make value judgments.
- Explain that you value your child's ability to be responsible and independent during this difficult time in their life. Reassure him / her that you are always there and ready to help, and that you love him / her just like his / her brother / sister with ADHD.
- Plan special time for other children. A child with ADHD will require a lot of attention, time and energy. However, attention and care should be given to other children as well.
Step 6. Don't forget about yourself
Having a child with ADHD is tough and exhausting psychologically, emotionally and physically. However, remember to take care of yourself and your / your spouse if you have one.
- Take breaks and rest, no matter how much you love your child. No one gets better if you exhaust yourself by working tirelessly. You cannot constantly be with your child, and he will also want to show his individuality and make acquaintances outside your home.
- You may also want to see a therapist periodically to help you cope with the problems that parents of children with special needs have.
Part 4 of 5: Maintaining Discipline
Step 1. Be consistent
All children need discipline, and they need to learn that bad behavior has unpleasant consequences. For discipline to bear fruit and bring about positive changes in the behavior of a child with ADHD, it must first of all be constant and consistent.
- Teens should know the rules and the consequences of breaking them. Consequences must unfailingly follow every rule violation.
- Both parents must act in concert to ensure the same punishment for breaking the rules.
Step 2. The penalty must follow immediately after the violation
Because adolescents with ADHD have trouble concentrating long enough, it is important that there are immediate consequences for breaking the rules.
- The punishment should come immediately, it should not be postponed. People with ADHD often have a hard time understanding the concept of time, so delayed punishment may not make any sense.
- If the child has time to forget about the violation, followed by punishment, this provokes a conflict situation.
Step 3. The punishment must be effective
The punishments for bad behavior should be tangible. If the child tolerates them easily, he will not take them seriously and they will not bring the desired result.
- If the fine for speeding were one ruble, we would all constantly exceed the speed limit. Weak, imperceptible punishment cannot change our behavior. However, we have to watch the speed if the fine is large. The same principle holds true for children with ADHD. The punishment must be strong enough to deter the child from misbehaving.
- Do not cancel the punishment. If a severe punishment is imposed for some offense, and you canceled it, the next time the child will not obey you. If you want to gain respect and obedience, promise what you are about to do and keep it.
Step 4. Remain calm
Implement the punishment in such a way that the child sees that you are acting rationally in control of the situation.
Your anger or a raised voice can scare the child or make him understand that he can control you, making you angry. Remain calm and the child will feel the justice of the punishment
Step 5. Cheer up
People with ADHD tend to feel that things are “always” wrong with them. It is extremely important that you remain optimistic, regardless of your parenting methods and personal qualities. A child with ADHD should feel praised rather than scolded.
- The positive atmosphere should significantly outweigh the negative emotions in order to neutralize the child's anxiety and fear of failure. Try to regularly find reasons to praise the child for the next successes and achievements.
- Whenever possible, always try to rewrite the rules in your home so that they sound positive. For example, instead of saying “Don't interrupt!” use "Wait Your Turn" or "Let Your Sister Complete the Thought." It will take some practice to change all these negative phrases like “Don't talk with your mouth full!” this. Good-sounding rules will make mistakes less noticeable and painful.
Step 6. Try to anticipate problems
If you have a child with ADHD, you should learn to anticipate future difficulties and challenges. Think about the challenges ahead and plan ahead to overcome them.
- Help your child develop skills in identifying the causes of potential problems and resolving them by analyzing different situations together. Encourage your child to think about potential pitfalls and discuss them with you before taking important steps.
- If an adolescent feels that there is agreement about a situation, then he / she is likely to behave appropriately. If the behavior is wrong, with prior agreement, the punishment will not appear unexpected or arbitrary.
Part 5 of 5: Overcoming Difficulties in School
Step 1. Keep in touch with teachers
It is not uncommon for adolescents with ADHD to have learning difficulties. Parents often complain that school teachers do not perceive their children with ADHD as disabled children. Often, teachers believe that these children simply have a wayward, disobedient character and do not want to learn. Therefore, it is important to communicate with your child's teachers so that they understand exactly what the problem is.
- It will be good if, as a result of your meetings with teachers, you begin to make a joint effort. The teaching experience of teachers can be a useful addition to parenting knowledge about what works best for your child. This way, you can take into account the behavioral and learning needs to develop a collaborative plan that works best for your child.
- Parents should discuss many different issues with teachers, including effective rewards and punishments, teaching at home, sharing information between teachers, ways to reinforce classroom skills at home, and more.
Step 2. Help to create a curriculum
As with household chores, a child with ADHD's academic success is largely determined by the consistency and consistency of the process. Do your best to help the teacher create an effective curriculum.
- Some students succeed quite easily with a thoughtful, consistent curriculum and sufficient work from home.
- Organizational tools such as organizers, colored folders and notebooks, checklists, and checklists can also help.
Step 3. Use special services
Even with a solid curriculum and good teachers, some students may need extra help. There are many measures available to parents of students, provided they know how to use them. These measures range from giving the child extra time to pass exams to transferring to a special school with staff trained to work with children with disabilities.
- A child can be transferred to a special (correctional) school for two main reasons: if there is an appropriate medical certificate, or if he is far behind in academic performance from other peers.
- If you think your child needs additional help, complete the paperwork required to enroll in a special school.
- Beware of schools that tell you that ADHD is not a good enough reason for special treatment (or that it is not a disease at all). In Russia, ADHD is not included in the list of diseases that qualify for disability. Nevertheless, according to the classification and criteria used in the implementation of medical and social expertise, diseases that give the right to receive disability include those that entail “recurrent limitation of the ability to control their behavior in difficult life situations and (or) constant difficulty in performing role functions affecting certain spheres of life, with the possibility of partial self-correction "while maintaining" the ability to learn, as well as to obtain an education of a certain level within the framework of state educational standards in general educational institutions using special teaching methods, a special training regime, with using, if necessary, auxiliary technical means and technologies”.
Step 4. Create an Individualized Curriculum (IEP)
Such a plan is drawn up jointly by the school staff and the student's parents. It identifies the academic, behavioral and social objectives of the student with special needs. The IEP also defines the criteria by which the results will be assessed, special tools and measures used to achieve the set goals, and so on.
- You will be able to develop an IEP with educators after you receive a formal medical certificate that entitles your child to enrollment in a special curriculum.
- The IEP stipulates the number of lessons in the general group and independent studies, procedures for passing tests and exams, criteria for giving marks and other points.
- The school must comply with the conditions set out in the IEP.
- School staff should regularly discuss with parents the child's academic progress, the effectiveness of the IEP, and possible changes in it. Adjust the plan if necessary.
- The IEP also facilitates the learning process in the event of a transfer to another school.
Step 5. Help your child during the transition
When your child turns 16 (or better before), you should think about what he will do after graduation. The child should be helped with the choice of a further path.
- Many children with ADHD need help choosing the right school to continue their education. You should think about whether the chosen specialty suits the child's inclinations and whether he will be able to follow the curriculum. If the institution is located far from home, it is also necessary to consider whether your child will be able to live independently in the hostel.
- Students with ADHD are often less adapted to independent living than their peers. For example, they may have difficulty opening a bank account, getting insurance, understanding a service contract, planning their own budget, and so on. There are many skills that a teenager must master after graduation. Help your child with this.
- People with ADHD also need to be monitored for their mental health. Will your child be able to consult a psychologist or psychotherapist if necessary? Does he know what drugs to take and how to get them? These and other questions are very important, and they should be considered even when teaching in the last grades of school.
- Sex education is also important. Difficulty perceiving causal relationships and impulsive behavior can lead to unpleasant situations and problems in this area. Most schools include sex education and family education as part of their high school curriculum. In these sessions, adolescents are taught, inter alia, about contraceptives. During puberty, a child with ADHD will need appropriate help and guidance from you.
Step 6. Help your child choose an educational institution
After leaving school, he will be able to continue his studies or get a job. Help your child make this difficult choice. Below are a few considerations.
- Higher education institutions are not suitable for everyone. Some children with ADHD happily refuse to continue their studies, preferring to start working immediately after leaving school. However, being diagnosed with ADHD does not close the doors of higher education to them.
- Try to choose the right institution of higher education for your child. It is good if it caters for the special needs of students like your child. It is important for a person with ADHD to feel supported and not be isolated from society.
- Some institutions of higher education provide support for students with ADHD. They are assisted in the educational process, assisted in choosing a specific profession and place of work.
- As a rule, students with ADHD find it much easier to study if the school is located near their home and they do not need to move to a hostel. Many factors play an important role, including the layout of the building and classrooms. It is better to choose a not very large and crowded institution with cozy auditoriums so that your child does not feel lost and overwhelmed by external impressions.
Step 7. Consider continuing your studies during the holidays
Taking extra classes during vacations can be of great help for students with ADHD. They are especially useful for those who prefer individual lessons rather than a lecture system.
- During the holidays, you can attend additional courses or hire a tutor. At the end of many courses, certificates are issued.
- After completing the relevant courses and receiving a certificate, your child will be able to work as an electrician, plumber, car mechanic, veterinarian assistant, graphic designer, secretary, and so on.
- The program of some courses can be taken into account when studying at an institute or university.
- Help your child plan the lesson, in consultation with teachers if necessary.
Step 8. Consider a military career
Military service is well suited for people with ADHD who require detailed rules and a rigid routine.
In Russia, a diagnosis of ADHD does not prevent admission to military school if it does not interfere with studies, the performance of prescribed duties and the passage of service
- The use of medication is case-by-case and can be changed or drastically revised over time.
- If your child is taking medication, discuss any significant changes in your child's diet with the doctor who prescribed the medication. Make sure that there is no incompatibility between medicines and food, otherwise the effectiveness of the drugs will decrease, and in some cases complications may even arise. The doctor will also be able to recommend the optimal dosage of various drugs and food supplements, warning about possible side effects. For example, melatonin can improve sleep in people with ADHD, but it can also induce vivid dreams that are undesirable in this disorder.
- Sometimes parents are immediately provided with a ready-made individual curriculum. They are given to look through it and asked to put their signature under it. Do not do that! You must be directly involved in developing this plan, making sure it meets the needs of your child.
- On the Internet, you can find the English-language online magazine ADDitude, which is a free web resource for information, guidance and support for adults with ADHD, as well as children with ADHD and their parents.
- Stimulants have side effects such as decreased appetite and restless sleep. The latter can be managed by reducing the dose or taking sleep aids (such as clonidine or melatonin).
- Non-stimulant medications are better for some people with ADHD, but they can have more serious side effects. For example, a teenager taking atomoxetine should be closely monitored because the drug can stimulate suicidal thoughts.