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Guiding Principles for Parent/Teacher
Interactions with Teens

Chris A. Zeigler Dendy, M.S.



This summary of guiding principles for interacting with teenagers is from Chapter 8 of my book, Teenagers with ADD and ADHD, 2nd edition(1995, 2006). Hopefully, these tips will help improve communications within the family plus interactions around specific issues such as chores and homework. These issues are discussed in detail in Chapter 8. In addition several of these topics such as shaping and defusing angry situations are discussed in Teaching Teens with ADD, ADHD, and Executive Function Deficits, 2nd ed..

ADDA-SR (Attention Deficit Disorder Association-Southern Region, Houston, Texas) asked if they could reprint this article on their webpage (www.adda-sr.org). As a result, this document was singled out for recognition in the book, 300 Incredible Thing to Learn on the Internet.

  1. Give unconditional positive regard
         1.1 Reframe your perception of AD/HD
         1.2 Keep a disability perspective
         1.3 Write a "healing letter"
         1.4 Enjoy your teenager
         1.5 Nurture with touch
  2. Treat your teenager as a respected partner
          2.1 Give choices
          2.2 Set reasonable expectations
          2.3 Negotiate/consider compromise
          2.4 Depersonalize problems
          2.5 Assume good intentions
  3. Maintain good communications
          3.1 Listen when your teenager talks
          3.2 Listen without being judgmental
          3.3 Use active listening
          3.4 Give "I" messages
          3.5 Smooth ruffled feathers
          3.6 Encourage expression of feelings
          3.7 Teach by example
          3.8 Avoid subconscious negative messages
  4. Understand ADHD factors influencing behavior and school work
          4.1 Understand the impact of executive function deficits on behavior at home and school       4.2 Make accommodations for the following:
          4.3 Impaired sense of time/don't accurately judge the passage of time
          4.4 working memory deficits
          4.5 forgetfulness
          4.6 disorganization
          4.7 difficulty planning ahead
          4.8 difficulty planning for the future
  5. Provide structure and supervision; be a coach
          5.1 Establish a daily routine
          5.2 Develop rules and consequences
          5.3 Develop a contract
          5.4 Schedule chores
          5.5 Give advance notice and time frames
          5.6 Set limits and state expectations
          5.7 Provide developmentally appropriate supervision
          5.8 Link responsible behavior to privileges
          5.9 Try create reward incentives
          5.10 Encourage to do as much for himself as possible
  6. Help build self-esteem
         6.1 Build on your teenager's strengths
          6.2 List and celebrate strengths
          6.3 Encourage pursuit of interests
          6.4 Select sorts carefully
          6.5 Provide support in religious environments
          6.6 Match with good coaches or leaders
          6.7 Make the school environment more positive
  7. Teach new skills
          7.1 Teach problems solving
          7.2 Teach time management
          7.3 Teach techniques for dealing with anger
          7.4 Teach how to do job properly
          7.4 Teach self-management skills
  8. Look for the good; use positive behavioral strategies
          8.1 Provide feedback immediately
          8.2 Provide feedback more often
          8.3 Provide positive feedback before negatives
          8.4 Use strong, meaningful rewards and consequences
          8.5 Use behavioral charts
          8.6 Be as consistent as possible
          8.7 Increase positive interactions
          8.8 Try grandma's rule/first we work and then we play
          8.9 Start at your teenager's present level
          8.10 Identify antecedent behavior
          8.11 Change the environment
  9. Avoid negative interactions
          9.1 Pick and chose battles wisely
          9.2 Ignore minor misbehavior
          9.3 Avoid character assassination; talk about behavior not the person
          9.4 Avoid power struggles
          9.5 Avoid badgering
          9.6 Avoid nagging, lecturing, and arguing
          9.7 Redirect interests; avoid saying no directly
          9.8 Tap their forgetfulness
  10. Punish wisely
          10.1 Act! don't yak!
          10.2 Use brief and reasonable consequences
          10.3 Don't make consequences too harsh or restrictive
          10.4 Continue some consequences without escalating harshness
          10.5 Use logical consequences for minor offenses
          10.6 Give second and third chances
  11. Weather each crisis as it occurs
          11.1 Manage your frustration and anger
          11.2 State facts and consequences
          11.3 Don't say things you'll regret later
          11.4 When frustration builds, take a break
          11.5 Remove yourself from conflict; give yourself time to cool off
          11.6 If the teenager blows up, stay calm,lower your voice
  12. Nurture yourself
          12.1 Recognize that parental grief is normal for the loss of the "perfect" child
          12.2 Don't ignore martial stress and depression
          12.3 Talk with your spouse or a friend
          12.4 Try exercise
          12.5 Seek professional help
          12.6 Practice forgiveness