ADHD in Teens

Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 27 April 2022

Table of Contents:

  1. ADHD in Teens
  2. How Does ADHD Affect a Teen's Life?
  3. Kids With ADHD and Relationships
  4. Treatments for Teens With ADHD
  5. How Can Parents Help a Teen With ADHD?
  6. When Your Child Is Older
  7. Set Boundaries
  8. Seek Professional Help


ADHD in Teens


The majority of children diagnosed with ADHD continue to have it as teens. ADHD symptoms in teenages are similar to those in children. They include the following:


  • Distractibility
  • Disorganization
  • Poor concentration
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsivity

ADHD symptoms may worsen during the teen years, especially as the hormonal changes of adolescence continue and the demands of school and extracurricular activities increase.

How Does ADHD Affect a Teen's Life?


Many adolescents with ADHD struggle in school as a result of their difficulties with distraction and low focus. Grades can worsen, especially if the teenager is not receiving ADHD care.


Teens with ADHD often miss tasks, misplace textbooks, and become dissatisfied with their everyday classwork. Teens can become inattentive or overly attentive, blurting out answers without waiting for their turn. They may make inappropriate comments to their teacher and peers, and they may hurriedly complete assignments. Additionally, adolescents with ADHD can be fidgety and have difficulty sitting still in class.


Sometimes, adolescents with ADHD are so preoccupied with other concerns that they lose track of the task at hand. This is particularly evident with regard to homework, athletic abilities, and friendships. This lack of focus on what they're doing also results in poor test scores and rejection from sports teams, after-school programmes, and friendship groups.


Does ADHD Raise the Risk of Car Accidents and Drinking Problems?


In reality, teens with ADHD face unique dangers when they drive. Teens with ADHD are twice as likely to be involved in a car accident as teens without ADHD.


Teens with ADHD can be impulsive, take risks, have immature judgement, and pursue thrills. Both of these characteristics increase the likelihood of injuries and serious injury.


Nonetheless, research indicates that teen drivers with ADHD who take their medication are less likely to be involved in an accident.


Teens with ADHD are more likely than teens without ADHD to be heavy drinkers. Additionally, they are more likely to experience complications as a result of their drinking.


Adolescents with ADHD were twice as likely as other adolescents to have abused alcohol in the preceding six months and three times as likely to have abused substances other than marijuana, according to reports.


Receiving the appropriate treatment for ADHD can assist in reducing the risk of future alcohol and drug abuse.


Disputing the teen's driving rights in light of their overall ADHD treatment plan. Establishing guidelines and standards for healthy driving behaviours is your duty. Include a discussion on the dangers of texting and driving.

Teens With ADHD and Relationships


Not all children with ADHD have difficulty interacting with people. If your child exhibits some of these characteristics, you should take action to help them develop their social skills and relationships. The sooner your child's difficulties with peers are handled, the more effective such interventions will be. It is beneficial for you to:


  • Recognize the critical nature of positive friendships
  • Involve your child in peer activities; selecting an activity that your child excels at or loves will give them the confidence to engage more with peers.
  • Establish social behaviour targets and a reward system for your child.
  • If your child is withdrawn or too nervous, encourage social interactions. Before your child attends an event, speak to them about what they might expect there and what others might expect of them.
  • Avoid attempting to do too much at once. Concentrate on one or two habits at a time.
  • Avoid going overboard. Your child does not need to be a member of the most famous class or have a large number of friends. They may only need one or two close friendships.
  • Inquire of your child's teachers about their experiences in class. Collaborate with them and the guidance counsellor to resolve any problems that can obstruct friendships.


Bullying can be a problem for children with ADHD. Prepare yourself. Talk to your child about what they can do if they are mocked or bullied. Make sure they understand it's fine to come to you if they're being bullied.


Treatments for Teens With ADHD


When it comes to treating ADHD in teenagers, there are a lot of different perspectives. For adolescents, some experts suggest that behaviour therapy alone can be effective. However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 80% of those who needed ADHD treatment as adolescents still do so as teenagers.


In most cases, treating adolescents with ADHD requires a combination of medicine and behaviour therapy. Behavior therapy is recommended by the American Academy of Paediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to improve behaviour issues associated with ADHD.


Teens with ADHD are often prescribed stimulant drugs. These drugs can increase a teen's alertness and help them perform better in school. Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin, Focalin XR), dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Adderall XR), lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), methylphenidate (Concerta, Quillivant XR, Ritalin), and mixed salts of a single-entity amphetamine substance are examples of stimulant drugs (Mydayis).


Non-stimulant drugs like atomoxetine (Strattera), clonidine (Kapvay), and guanfacine (Intuniv) are also used to treat ADHD in teenagers. Non-stimulant ADHD treatments have different side effects than stimulant medications. For example, unlike stimulant medications, they seldom cause anxiety, irritability, or insomnia. They are also non-habit forming and have a lower risk of being abused than stimulant medications, making them a better option for teenagers with ADHD who also have alcohol or substance abuse issues.


Overmedicating does not help and can result in suicidal thoughts, mood swings, and substance abuse.


Elimination diets, supplementation, parent preparation, memory training, and neurofeedback are examples of alternative treatments. These therapies are often used in conjunction with drugs that have been prescribed.


Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial as well. The FDA recently approved a small device to help activate the portion of the brain thought to be responsible for ADHD. The Monarch External Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) System is a device that can be used for children aged 7 to 12 who are not on ADHD medication.


How Can Parents Help a Teen With ADHD?


ADHD has an effect on every aspect of a teenager's life. Your first priority as a parent should be to speak freely with your teen. Always be encouraging and welcoming. You should also talk to your child's paediatrician about ADHD and treatment options.


You can assist your teen in managing ADHD by taking the following steps:


  • Provide goals, instructions, and boundaries that are simple and consistent.
  • Establish a regular routine and limit distractions.
  • Encourage your teen to participate in events that can help him or her achieve personal success (sports, hobbies, or music lessons, for example).
  • By praising good attitudes, you will boost your teen's self-esteem.
  • Good behaviour should be rewarded.
  • Make sure there are consequences for poor behaviour.
  • Assist your teen with time management and organisation.
  • Maintain a consistent wake-up time, mealtime, and bedtime for your whole family.
  • To help your teen stay on track and recall tasks that are due, set up a reminder system at home. Make sure the homework and playtime are included in the schedule. A visual representation of their schedule, such as a calendar or a list, can be beneficial to children. This should be discussed with them on a regular basis.
  • Work with your teen's teachers to ensure that he or she is staying on track at school.
  • When disciplining your teen, remain cool.
  • Set a positive example for your children. Teens may not always show it, but the adults in their lives have a significant influence on them.
  • Ensure that your teen gets enough sleep. Establish firm guidelines for the television, computers, tablets, video games, and other electronic devices. Make sure to turn off both of these devices long before bedtime.
  • Organize the things you use on a daily basis. All should have a place in your child's room, and everything should be kept in its place. Clothing, backpacks, and school supplies are all included.
  • Organize your homework and notebooks. Make it clear to your child that he or she must write down assignments and carry home the necessary books. A checklist will help you remember to bring things home every day, such as schoolbooks, lunch boxes, and jackets.


When Your Child Is Older


It's important to stick with your ADHD treatment if you want to live a happy life. Encourage your child to meet with the person who handles their ADHD when they are adults. They can discuss how they should treat their medications independently with each other. If they attend talk therapy, they should make a plan to keep going.


Talk about how they should make sure they have new medicine before it expires. Make sure they have another doctor or ADHD specialist near their new home if they are moving away or going to college so they can get support when they need it.


Your child must understand the importance of taking their medicine exactly as prescribed by their doctor. If not, their symptoms will worsen. It may be difficult to study or perform well at work as a result of this. It also increases the likelihood that they will participate in risky actions, such as substance abuse.


Make sure that they are aware that they can never share their medicine with someone else.


You can also discuss with your child the everyday responsibilities they will face once they are on their own. For instance, how are they going to handle meals and laundry? What bills are they likely to have to pay, and how can they pay them?


Set Boundaries


A critical component in assisting your child in developing into an independent adult is treating them as such, regardless of their ADHD. Avoid nagging them on what they should be doing and value their privacy and desires if they decline assistance. Additionally, you may wish to demonstrate to them that you are treating them as an adult. For instance, you might invite them out to dinner rather than dropping by their apartment unexpectedly.


Assisting your child with planning is a positive thing. Make it crystal clear to them that you are available if they need assistance. For instance, they might ask you to notify them each month when their rent is due. However, ensure that your child is initiating the queries.


Seek Professional Help


You may be accustomed to assisting your child with many facets of their lives, such as money management and navigating difficult social circumstances. Simply because they are an adult does not mean you should cease to be compassionate and caring. However, one way to assist them in making the transition to adulthood is to allow them to seek assistance from others. For instance, a life coach who specialises in ADHD might be able to assist them in developing effective study skills. Furthermore, a therapist may assist them in developing constructive communication skills when confronted with conflict.


Referenced on  30/4/2021

  1. CHADD: “Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder," “Social Skills in Adults with ADHD," “Teens and Young Adults," “Treatment of Teens with ADHD," “Successfully Launching Your Teen or Young Adult With ADHD into the World," “Psychosocial Treatment for Children and Adolescents with ADHD."
  2. National Resource Center on ADHD: “Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria."
  3. CDC: “ADHD and Risk of Injury," “Other Concerns & Conditions."
  4. National Institutes of Health: “Severe Childhood ADHD May Predict Alcohol, Substance Use Problems in Teen Years."
  5. FDA.
  6. National Institute of Mental Health: “Could I Have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder?"
  7. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and American Psychiatric Association: “ADHD: Parents Medication Guide."
  8. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America: “Lag in maturation of the brain's intrinsic functional architecture in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder."
  9. Labour Economics: “Sex, drugs, and ADHD: The effects of ADHD pharmacological treatment on teens' risky behaviors."
  10. Attention Deficit Disorder Association.
  11. National Resource Center on ADHD.
  12. ADDvance: “Social Skills for Kids with ADHD.”
  13. Bagwell, C.L. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, November 2001.
  14. Davidson Institute: “Tips for Parents: Improving Skills in Children with ADHD.”
  15. Hoza, B. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, July 2007.
  16. Unnever, J.D. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, February 2003.
  17. Understood: “FAQs About Social Skills Groups."

Previous Post

ADHD in Children: Symptoms, Types, Diagnosis, Treatments

Next Post

Adult ADHD and Exercise

Related Posts