How is parent training for ADHD modified for use with teenagers?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Parent training for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be adjusted for use with young children, adolescents, and older teenagers. Parent training for teenagers with ADHD addresses the specific problem behaviors of teens and the challenges their parents face. For instance, time out can be very effective with preschool- and elementary-aged children, but teenagers require more severe consequences. Rather than using time out, a parent may address problem behaviors in a teen by restricting computer time or taking away the keys to the family car.

In parent training for teens with ADHD, teenagers can play an active role. Teenagers may take part in the parent training sessions, working with their parents to pinpoint problem behaviors and identifying consequences to be implemented when rules are broken. The National Resource Center on ADHD reports that teenagers may be more motivated to behave better when they participate in the parent training treatment plan.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Just as teenagers are different from grade-schoolers, parent training for teens with ADHD needs to be different, too. A time-out might work for a seven year old, but chances are you’re not going to get your 16 year old to sit in a chair and “think about what he’s done.” A more effective approach might be to limit computer use to homework only or to take away his TV or video-game privileges. Working with your teenager should also be more collaborative. After you learn the kinds of behavioral techniques that work best for teens with ADHD, it’s a good idea to meet together with a therapist and your child. You can discuss how to pair agreed-upon rewards such as going out with friends, with behavioral goals such as better grades.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.