A child’s diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be life-altering for parents. Diagnosis is a mixed blessing, Relief in learning what their child is dealing with and methods of managing it, but sadness that the child may have to deal with ADHD for life. In fact, in one-third of children diagnosed, ADHD persists into adulthood.
The challenges that parents of kids with ADHD face can morph into new and unexpected challenges during the teen years. With the advent of hormonal changes, increased academic pressure, and typical teenage angst, teens with ADHD may begin to act out. Parents are often not prepared for the shift in behaviors, and suddenly find themselves with an ADHD teenager out of control.
Understanding the specific behavioral and emotional developments that often accompany teen ADHD can help parents get a leg up on managing the evolving symptoms. However, when all efforts to support and manage the disorder seem to fail, parents may witness their ADHD teenager out of control behavior and feel helpless. When outpatient support has not been sufficient in helping their teen’s struggle with ADHD, a more intensive residential program may be appropriate.
About Teen ADHD
ADHD in teens can have very different features depending on environmental factors, gender, the type of ADHD, and personality traits. In addition, symptoms of ADHD in childhood may be very different in a teen with the disorder. All this to say that parents, teachers, and coaches may find the ADHD teenager out of control, unable to follow rules, turn in assignments, exhibiting aggressive behavior, and more.
Parents may have had to provide a very rigid environment for their child with ADHD, which is actually helpful on many levels in the early years. Tight boundaries and firm adherence to routines and discipline are beneficial to children with ADHD. However, when these kids become teens, there is a tendency to through off these constraints in a desire to grow and become more autonomous. The frustration with limits or expectations can be displayed as acting out behaviorally, including high risk behaviors.
Symptoms of ADHD in Teenagers
Teens with ADHD may exhibit a wide range of symptoms. These might include:
- Declining academic performance
- Social issues, relationship problems
- Boredom, apathy
- Unwilling to finish assignments, rushes through work, inferior work
- Disruptive in class, interrupting or challenging the teacher
- Substance abuse
- Difficulty getting organized, setting priorities
- Difficulty remember daily obligations, assignments, responsibilities
- Difficulty in test-taking, struggle to recall information studied even the night before
- Works below academic potential
- Easily sidetracked or distracted
- Doesn’t stick with things, quits
- Sexually active at early age
- More prone to car accidents, lack judgment, seek risky behavior
- Difficulty concentrating on task, lectures, reading material
Tips For Parents of Teens with ADHD
Parents of teens with ADHD may access the following helpful tips in managing the challenges:
- Encourage extracurricular activities that provide additional structure outside school hours and give the teen opportunities to experience success while discovering passions and honing skills.
- Set clear expectations and limits, and be consistent in enforcing them. The teen will not respond to or respect inconsistency.
- Have clearly articulated consequences for bad behavior. Especially when the teen is of driving age, it is essential they understand the responsibility that driving entails.
- Assist the teen in methods to help them stay organized and not miss appointments. Help by getting them organizer tools and apps on the phone that will help them stay on top of their responsibilities.
- Affirm and reward positive behavior and successes. Positive behavior should be noticed as often as negative behavior. Set incentives that help encourage positive choices.
Treatment for Teen ADHD
Teens who were diagnosed with ADHD as kids have probably been receiving support from the family physician or a therapist. Treatment for teens can be a bit different, as symptoms change in the early teen years, so should be adjusted accordingly. Treatment relies heavily on stimulant drug therapy, usually Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, or Focalin. These stimulants help teens with ADHD with focusing, being alert, and staying on task.
Cognitive behavioral therapy or other behavior-based therapies are usually prescribed with the medication. Therapy helps the teen learn to modify their behaviors, which can significantly improve the behavior problems associated with teen ADHD. For example, if the teen seeks drugs or alcohol as a method of numbing their feelings of frustration with school or relationships, CBT can help them identify the triggers and reshape their thought distortions that have led to substance abuse.
BNI Treatment Centers Provides Residential Programming for Teen ADHD
BNI Treatment Centers is a Los Angeles-based residential teen mental health treatment center. BNI Treatment Centers is staffed with an expert psychiatric team that is trained to work with teens that struggle with ADHD. Relying on sound evidence-based therapy models combined with experiential therapies, teens are immersed in a variety of treatment elements that lead to lasting behavioral and emotional change. If your ADHD teenager is out of control, please contact BNI Treatment Centers today at (888) 522-1504.