One of the best ways to make sure that your teen doesn’t struggle with discipline problems is to work on behavioral issues at an early age. However, this is never really easy for parents whether they found out that their teen has ADD/ADHD years ago or they just found out about it recently. Dealing with a teenager in the house is hard enough, but dealing with a teenager with ADD/ADHD can oftentimes be more challenging.
There are no easy fixes for discipline issues when it comes to teens. However, establishing the groundwork for a peaceful, happy, and well-structured home life can be very important in helping parents deal with teenagers.
Here are a few tips for parents of ADD/ADHD on how to foster a nurturing home environment:
- Discipline behaviors that involve choice – At times parents have a difficult time determining which things should be punished and which shouldn’t be. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell the difference especially when your teen is always doing something that needs to be “corrected” in some way. One way to look at it is by realizing that some things are done by your teen because of the symptoms of ADHD. For example, don’t punish your teen for misplacing his/her homework or for forgetting to write down the details of an assignment. Instead, teach your teen better organizational techniques that can help him/her remember these things better. Don’t punish your teen for being emotional and having an emotional meltdown because this, by itself, isn’t bad either. On the other hand, while ADHD/ADD teens may suffer from being impulsive, this does not excuse drunk driving, shoplifting, or other such misbehaviors that involve them consciously choosing to do the wrong thing.
- Encourage your teen to help make house rules – Even though you can’t truly give your teen the freedom to make the house rules, hearing them out and encouraging participation in shaping the house rules helps. They will feel that since they helped shaped the house rules one way or another, then they should follow it. A limited kind of democracy in the family would go a long way in helping your child understand how house rules can be good for him/her too.
- Keep the rule list short and understandable – It’s never a good idea to make your child feel as if the house is a mine field where one wrong step can cause a blow up. Write the rules down, have them sign it, and post the list in places where they can read it constantly during the day. Keep the list reasonable in length. It would help you a lot if the rules are phrased in a way that is easy for your teen to remember.
- Keep a clear head during high-stress situations – Remember that if you give your teen the cue to get emotional and high-strung, they will most definitely take it. It’s better to keep your cool during arguments in order to help your teen control his/her emotions as well. If nobody is shouting, throwing things around, or calling other people names, then your teen will get the idea that it’s possible to resolve an issue without becoming emotional.
- Let your teen vent in a way that is not destructive – Emotional outbursts is usually a part of living with a teen that has ADD/ADHD. Let your teen vent when angry, but make it clear that there are limitations to venting anger. Let your teen express frustrations verbally without allowing name-calling, or hurling insults at others. It would also be wise to make it clear that their angry feelings is not an excuse to make way to angry acts. It is better if parents express that physical violence, expressing violence through wrecking things, vandalism, and the likes do not have a place in their homes.
- Establish clear consequences for certain offenses – Talk to your teen about which actions will receive zero-tolerance at home. Drunk driving, stealing, beating other kids up and the likes should be dealt with by imposing clear and unwavering punishment. Once your teen understands that there are things you will absolutely not tolerate, he/she will be more respectful of the rules you both have established and agreed on.
At times, the tough-love approach is a very effective way of helping teens with ADHD/ADD in line. Consistency is very important in helping your child understand the concept of rules and rewards that come with certain actuations.