4 Ways to Treat ADHD in Teens

1. Get Psychiatric Help

The first thing many parents do when they discover their child has ADHD is to get a Ritalin prescription from the family doctor. While this is the easiest answer, it’s not necessarily the best. Go to a psychiatrist instead and discuss your options. Ritalin, based on methylphenidate, is only one of five medications used to treat ADHD, and a psychiatrist may want to prescribe another, such as Dexedrine or Adderall, which are based on amphetamines. While some controversy exists over the effectiveness of stimulants and the need to understand their side effects, the fact remains that they have been clinically proven to work. People with ADHD who have taken medication show an increase in their levels of concentration and a decrease in distractibility. One thing you may want to watch out for, though, are other teenagers trying to pressure your child into giving them Ritalin for recreational use. Control the dosages yourself if you don’t feel confident in your teen’s ability to refuse. You also should hire a therapist. Even though stimulants provide a quick fix to the symptoms of ADHD, therapy actually changes the behaviors and attitudes the disorder generates. Behavior therapy is very effective in helping teens to come up with ways to work around their disorder, finish projects and improve their memory and focus. Therapy can also help your adolescent to improve his self-worth. While self-esteem is almost always an issue with teenagers, it can be even more important when a teen is also trying to deal with the stigma of a mental disorder.

2. Structure Their Home Lives

Your teen will need some structure to help her deal with her ADHD. Since the disorder impairs concentration and focus, giving your teen a definite schedule will help her to concentrate on things such as schoolwork and chores without distractions. It will also help you to be aware of what she is doing, and help her to stop her impulses from taking over. Another aspect of structuring your teen’s home life is to know where he is at all times. While all parents should monitor their teens, you need to be more careful when monitoring a teen with ADHD. Be aware of whom he is with, what he is doing and when he’ll be back home.

3. Be Open With Them

Communication is key when helping a adolescent with ADHD. You need to let him know, for instance, what you expect out of him and come to an agreement regarding treatment schedules. On the other hand, you’re also going to want to know when he isn’t doing well or when he’s struggling with ADHD so you can build up his self-esteem. Actively listen to what your teen says, give feedback and encourage him to do the same. By being as open with your teen as possible, you’ll build his trust in you and help maintain his sense of self-worth.

4. Join a Support Group

One of the best treatments for a teen with ADHD is to have her join a support group. One of the problems adolescents struggle with is feeling isolated or left out. Having ADHD only makes that feeling worse. When a teen with ADHD joins a support group, she will encounter people who know what she’s going through, and will give her a place where she fits in. In addition, she may be more open in a support group and talk about things she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing with either her parents or her therapist.

About this Author

Chris Gottschalk earned his psychology degree from the University of Michigan. He specializes in mental health issues, relationship dynamics and stress prevention, and studied kendo, the art of Japanese fencing, for five years. Gottschalk has also written about finance for the “Business Review of Western Michigan” and other publications.