Parenting a teen is a rewarding yet challenging experience. It is beyond impactful to support your teen with ADHD in daily life and to prepare them for the future. Around 3.3 million kids between the ages of 12 and 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD. The reality is that you’re not alone in parenting a teen with ADHD, but you do have a more powerful responsibility to provide support that builds a solid foundation for the future of your neurodivergent teen. 


How Parenting Affects Teens With ADHD


Most parents of kids with ADHD use an authoritarian style of parenting. This could be a response to behavioral issues that children with ADHD exhibit early on, or it could be an indicator of the correlation between strict parenting and ADHD diagnoses. Regardless, it’s wise to take a constructive look at your parenting style and how it’s affecting your child now that they are navigating ADHD and everyday life as a teenager. 


Parenting undeniably plays a crucial role in shaping the well-being of teenagers, with and without ADHD. Adolescents with ADHD often require consistent structure, clear expectations, and positive reinforcement. Supportive parenting practices can help mitigate challenges associated with impulsivity, inattention, and hyperactivity. By fostering a nurturing environment, you can enhance your child’s self-esteem, academic performance, and overall quality of life.


Supporting your child’s academic performance is arguably the most effective way to prepare them for the future. School is an integral part of most teens’ lives. Neurodivergent students require unique support to thrive and prepare for college or professional life. You may need to adapt your parenting style to be more hands-on, doing more work behind the scenes. By paying attention to your child’s needs, you can research and open up opportunities for them to receive classroom accommodations or join study groups. Showing them the resources and support available for teens with ADHD can empower them to do so for themselves later on. 


Teenage girl in Black and White

by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash


Ways To Mentally and Emotionally Support Your Teen With ADHD


Beyond providing resources, you should support your teen with ADHD mentally and emotionally. This requires a certain level of empathy and patience. It’s important to acknowledge that the challenges your teen faces are normal.


Providing them with consistency in routine and unwavering support will help them feel more secure, which is especially important during this age when many kids are laden with doubts and feelings of instability when trying to find themselves. Providing a secure environment that fosters open communication and expression without judgment is crucial to building their self-esteem and sense of identity.


Getting Them Involved and Engaged


Engaging your teen with ADHD involves a holistic approach that includes community and outdoor enrichment activities. Nature can act as a form of therapy while allowing you to connect with your teen on a deeper level. Consider heading out on the trails, riding horses, or even signing up for a nature therapy course with them.


Green time — or time spent outdoors — has been linked to reduced ADHD symptoms. Combining physical activity with getting outdoors can be a recipe for success. Physical activity improves mental health, and this can equip your teen with the confidence to keep up these healthy habits into their adult life.


To facilitate community involvement, try picking a safe neighborhood. Check out crime rates and available amenities, looking for opportunities for your teen to volunteer or join local sports organizations. A walkable environment not only gets them outdoors but also increases their chances of socialization. Forming social bonds can enhance your teen’s feelings of support and add to their confidence in themselves.


Teaching Life Skills


In addition to providing classroom resources to help them with their studies, it’s important to teach your teen life skills. They may have issues with attention and executive function, so this should be considered when career planning with ADHD. Talk to them about what environments they prefer to do work in and how that can translate to picking a career path. For instance, they may be interested in tech and work well in a calm environment. This could indicate that a career in remote software engineering could work well for them.  


Teaching financial literacy to teens is also crucial to prepare them for the real world. With ADHD, they could be impulsive with spending. Acknowledge this and teach them why responsible money management is important for their future. Tech tools can help them, as well, by providing them with a clearer, more focused picture of their spending and budgeting. They may be making money from a summer job or an allowance, and allowing them the autonomy to take control of their finances can empower them going forward.


Prioritizing Self-Care


Self-care and reflection are important for mental wellness. You and your teen with ADHD should set aside time to practice self-soothing techniques, rest your mind, and reflect on your mental health journey. For ADHD in particular, you can try some innovative approaches to wellness. This can look like using AI tools and apps designed for ADHD management that assist with time management, medication reminders, and emotional regulation. 


Remember to also prioritize your mental health, as well, to make sure you are showing up as your best self for your child each day. It’s okay to take breaks and get overwhelmed from time to time as a parent. Have grace with yourself and your child, acknowledging the ups and downs of parenting a teen with ADHD.


Understanding That Each Journey Is Unique


Every journey through parenting a teen with ADHD is uniquely intricate. Each person’s strengths, challenges, and coping mechanisms can differ. As a parent and caregiver, embracing their unique attributes is the best way to foster empathy, resilience, and effective support. This will lead them into a life in which they can thrive independently.

Feature Image by: Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash

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