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Encouraging Independence in Teenagers with ADHD

The teenage years can be a special challenge. Academic and social demands increase. In some cases, symptoms may be better controlled as the child grows older; however, frequently the demands for performance also increase so that in most cases, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms persist and continue to interfere with the child's ability to function adequately. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 80% of those who required medication for ADHD as children still need it as teenagers.

Parents play an important role in helping teenagers become independent.

Encourage Your Teenager to Help Herself with the Following Strategies:

  • Using a daily planner for assignments and appointments
  • Making lists
  • Keeping a routine
  • Setting aside a quiet time and place to do homework
  • Organizing storage for items such as school supplies, clothes, CDs, and sports equipment
  • Being safety conscious (eg, always wearing seat belts, using protective gear for sports)
  • Talking about problems with someone she trusts
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Understanding her increased risk of abusing substances such as tobacco and alcohol

Activities such as sports, drama, and debate teams can be good places to channel excess energy and develop friendships. Find what your teenager does well and support her efforts to "go for it."

Milestones such as learning to drive and dating offer new freedom and risks. Parents must stay involved and set limits for safety. Your child's ADHD increases her risk of incurring traffic violations and accidents.

It remains important for parents of teenagers to keep in touch with teachers and make sure that their teenager's schoolwork is going well.

Talk with your pediatrician if your teenager shows signs of severe problems such as depression, drug abuse, or gang-related activities.

Additional Information on

Additional Resources:

The following is a list of support groups and additional resources for further information about ADHD. Check with your pediatrician for resources in your community. 

Last Updated
Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 8/2014)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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