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Could It

Do you think you might have ADHD? Does your child, sibling, or parent have it? Maybe some of the information here has you wondering, “Could it be…?” Maybe it’s time to find out.

Coping Strategies for Teens with ADHD (& Their Caregivers)

Help your teen take charge of their ADHD

It’s important to remember that as your teen gets older they will be the one responsible for self-advocating when it comes to managing their ADHD symptoms. So now is a great time to have them practice speaking up for themself by encouraging them to:

  • Let you and their teachers know what types of things they find helpful when dealing with their ADHD.
  • Talk to you, their teachers, and any other adults about their feelings and concerns about their ADHD.
  • Actively seek clarification: if they can’t remember an instruction, they shouldn’t just guess but instead—ask their teacher (or boss) to repeat it.

Now is also a good time for them to practice taking ownership of things that you may have helped them with previously. Have them:

  • Make a list of what they need to do each day, then put the tasks in order, crossing each one off as they do them.
  • Break big jobs and tasks into smaller stages and reward themself as they finish each one.
  • Do/focus on one thing at a time.
  • Leave reminders for themself on post-it notes where they will notice them.
  • Practice organization: store similar things together.
  • Create a daily routine for themself that includes getting up and going to bed at the same times each day.
  • Make sleep a priority by developing healthy sleep habits now.

Learning with ADHD — Keep your teen on track with these tips

  • Set up a distraction-free workspace (turn off the TV, mute and hide their phone, use noise‑cancelling headphones or white noise, etc.).
  • Consider a stand-up desk to work at, or a fidget tool if this helps them avoid distractions.
  • Keep a calendar of all assignments and due dates in one place.
  • Prioritize their tasks, break them into segments, and estimate how long each one will take, including breaks. (Then track how long each one actually takes so they can compare and be able to make future estimates more accurate.)
  • Take regular, timed breaks for some brief stretching or exercise. Just be sure to use a timer to come back at a set time.
  • Aim to submit online assignments early to avoid missing deadlines.
  • Remember to play (i.e., have fun) a little every day, and avoid working right up until bedtimerelax before bedtime to make insomnia, a common problem in ADHD, less likely.
  • Continue with their ADHD treatment, whether learning is virtual or in the classroom.

Transitioning to adulthood

  • Over 50% of children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD continue to experience symptoms as adults, so it’s important for your teen to take action and be prepared.
  • ADHD is part of who they are, so encourage them to let go of any stigma and resentment and take responsibility for managing ADHD in their life.
  • They should connect with a doctor and adhere to their treatment plan. Maintaining medical treatment, even during their days off, and developing organizational strategies is more important than ever (now that life is becoming even more complicated for them with increased responsibilities).
  • Help them develop life skills before they leave home, and take responsibility for setting and managing their own routine.
  • They need to know what accommodations work for them so they can ask for similar ones when employed or attending post-secondary school.
  • Encourage them to find a career that they are passionate about pursuing—a strong personal interest in an activity or subject is critical to both their focus and motivation.
  • Have them focus on adopting a healthy lifestyle: exercise, sleep, and proper nutrition all make a significant difference in attention, concentration, memory, irritability, and mood control.
  • Stress the importance of not self-medicating. Remind them that adults with untreated ADHD are at greater risk for substance abuse and addiction than adults without ADHD.

Healthy sleep habits for teens with ADHD

  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule, even on the weekend.
  • Try to avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, and heavy meals before bedtime, as they make restful sleep a challenge.
  • A cool, dark, quiet room promotes peaceful sleep.
  • Limit late-night TV and other light-emitting screens.
  • Save sleep time for the nighttime. Napping in the day can make it hard to sleep soundly at night.
  • Exercise daily to promote better sleep, but avoid being active too close to bedtime (their body needs time to wind down).
  • Separate sleep from stress. Write down any worries so they can be set aside until morning.
  • A meditation app can be a good means to help settle into sleep and keep their mind from busy thoughts.

Trouble Sleeping with ADHD?

Sleep-related problems in ADHD, such as finding it harder to fall asleep, are common. Some medicines used to treat ADHD symptoms may contribute to the issue.

Why you shouldn’t take it lying down

Understand Your Options

When your teen has ADHD, learning about the different treatment options and resources available is an important step in figuring out a treatment plan that’s right for them.

Take steps to make a plan

Need Help Talking to Your Doctor about ADHD?

Are you reviewing a current ADHD treatment plan, or exploring a possible ADHD diagnosis for the first time? Our Doctor Discussion Guides can help you get the conversation started.

Doctor Discussion Guides