Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is difficult for people of any age, but especially for teens. The teenage years are challenging enough, but ADHD adds to the challenges as teens are even more impulsive, inattentive, and at times hyperactive because of the disorder.
Teens with ADHD have difficulty focusing and being organized, which leads to trouble in school, at work, and at home. Plus, hormone changes affect medications intended to treat ADHD symptoms. Teens with ADHD do not have to despair, though. There are strategies and tips for managing symptoms and making life a little easier for teens with ADHD. Here’s some advice for teens with ADHD.
Study and School Tips for Teens with ADHD
Studying, focusing, and recalling information are difficult for teens with ADHD. While these challenges make facing school rough on teens with ADHD, they do not make success in school impossible. Students should work with their parents, teachers, and counselors to identify their unique challenges and work toward finding solutions. Experiment with strategies until you find those that help you most in school. You may find that one of these study and school tips helps you to succeed in school:
- Get a planner – Use a paper planner or the calendar on your smartphone, but use some form of a planner. Record homework, test dates, due dates, and other important school-related information in the planner. If you use your smartphone, set reminders in advance of assignments so that you don’t feel overwhelmed at the last minute when something is due for school.
- Plan early on for college and career – Because procrastination and difficulty in school are typical for teens with ADHD, it is important to start thinking about the future in advance. Consider your strengths and areas of interest and think about what you want to do when you graduate. Research colleges and work with teachers and guidance counselors to plan ahead. If you know which college you’d like to attend or which career path you’d like to follow, it may motivate you to do better in high school because you know you are working toward a goal.
- Experiment to find the best place to study – Some teens with ADHD study better when they are in a quiet place, while others need to have some noise in order to focus better. You may need complete quiet, so you could try headsets that block out all noise. Or, you may need to listen to music with noise-canceling headphones or earbuds so that you just hear your music and are not distracted by other noises around you.
- Join a school athletic team. – Not only is exercise known to improve brain function, but doing it regularly can help burn off that restless energy that can be distracting when sitting in class. It’s usually better to join a non-contact sport like swimming that allows you to focus only on your own role rather than your own, your teammates’, and your opposition’s.
Relationship Tips for Teens with ADHD
Teens with ADHD may have issues with peer relationships. In fact, research shows teens with ADHD have fewer reciprocal friendships and are more ignored or rejected by peers. Similarly, they are likely to be victims of bullying or be the bullies themselves. There are some things teens can do to improve their relationships with their peers…
- Talk about friendships and relationships – Find someone with whom you can discuss your friendships and relationships. The best option may be your therapist or school counselor, because they can help you with coping strategies and relationship strategies to help you overcome some of your friendship and relationship issues. These trusted adults are here to help you, so be as honest with them as possible.
- Improve communication skills – Relationships are all about good communication, so teens with ADHD should work to understand non-verbal cues and become better listeners. Try to be more aware of the other person’s body language. Watch her face and hands and see whether she is relaxed and comfortable, or nervous and uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and focus on what she is saying while she talks. Try not to interrupt or change the subject. Talk with a parent or counselor about improving your communication and social skills so that you are more relaxed and less anxious with friends or people you are interested in dating.
- Adopt a service dog. – ADHD service dogs provide endless benefits to their owners, especially when it comes to relationships. In public, they provide an easy topic of conversation and a buffer for any potentially awkward run-ins. One-on-one, they provide completely nonjudgmental companionship. It may be difficult for your peers to understand you, but a dog will always accept and love you for exactly who you are. They even make playtime better: no competition, just fun!
Keep in mind that the teenage years are not easy for anyone. When your ADHD symptoms make your life more difficult, mention it to a trusted adult and work through it together. You can experiment with strategies that improve your studying and schooling to see what works for you. You also can approach relationships with some strategies in mind so you can foster friendships and date more successfully.