Managing Teen ADHD
Money, driving, and relationships
As a child with ADHD gets older, the opportunity to explore new behaviors and take on more responsibility increases. For teenagers with ADHD, normal growing pains may be complicated by their hyperactivity, inattentiveness, and impulsivity.
Teenagers with ADHD may have real problems managing money because they can be so impulsive. They may not set goals, budget their money, or deal well with poor spending habits. How can you pass along good money management?
- Teach your teen early about earning and spending money
- Encourage your teen to set financial goals
- Show your teen how to save before spending
- Help build responsible behavior. Don’t bail them out!
- Have your teen open and manage a checking account
- Set a low limit to avoid overspending if you want your teen to have a credit card
Getting a driver’s license can be a milestone for both parents and teens. However, car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. This rate quadruples for teen drivers with ADHD.
Inattention contributes greatly to difficulty with driving. For teens on medication, the timing of their dose becomes crucial. The medication may have worn off later in the day when many teens are on the road with after-school activities.
Their impulsivity may cause riskier driving. It is not surprising that teenagers with ADHD are more accident-prone. These teens have difficulty thinking ahead. Teens with ADHD also have four times as many traffic citations than their non-ADHD friends.
Encourage your teen to be safe while driving by doing the following:
- Pre-setting radio stations
- Discussing your concerns about the radio being played too loudly
- Driving without passengers or choosing passengers carefully
- Allowing plenty of time to reach the destination
- Not talking on the phone, eating, or drinking while driving
- Taking a safe driving class that teaches how to avoid accidents and handle road emergencies
- Developing a written contract with these rules and consequences when rules are broken. Both parents and teen should sign it.
It is important to emphasize to your teen that these precautions are helpful for all teenagers, not just teens with ADHD.
ADHD symptoms pose a great challenge for teens when they are developing sexual maturity and becoming closely involved with peer relationships. Their problem solving skills, ability to learn from mistakes, and emotional management may be limited. These skills are necessary to build and maintain healthy relationships. Teens with ADHD often have short relationships and feel isolated. They may have struggled in school. And they often choose friends who are less successful. What is a parent to do? Encourage your teen to:
- Talk about problems
- Share their experiences
- Use humor without becoming the class clown
- Deal with anger and frustration without using substances
As the parent, you might want to try:
- Providing positive comments about what you have noticed
- Share your criticism without causing them to shut down or become angry
- Teach them good social skills
- Educate your teen about high-risk behaviors like substance use or sexual intimacy
And remember to keep the lines of communication open no matter how frustrated you become. Your support and concern is crucial even if your teen acts uninterested or resentful.