Life Skills For Teens

We take it for granted as adults that we know when to wake up for an appointment, or take medication, or even balance a checkbook – but not so for teens with ADHD.  Minor tasks often become hurdles.

As you’ve probably noticed, if you have a youngster with ADHD, their organizational and prioritizing skills are negligible.  They may know what they need to do, but it is a big leap to complete many tasks without a lot of prodding and bargaining.

Happily, life skills can be learned.  All that these young people need is more structure and more skill support. It’s never too early to begin teaching your child some of these skills.

I’ll start with Time Management.  Students with ADHD do not have a perception of time, as they don’t accurately judge how long it takes to get something done, or be someplace on time.  During middle and high school years you can make sure your child finishes his homework and this inevitably helps train him for higher education.  You can do this with a timer set in increments of 20 minutes with a five minute break afterward.  Determine about how long it takes for your child to finish each assignment and then break it down in chunks of 20 minutes or so.

Organization is another red-herring for ADHD kids.  If you’re picking up after your teen, resist the temptation but try organizing his room.  Establishing some type of bin or basket to contain school supplies and shelves for books is a good start.  Find an easy spot or place a container for things that are regularly used such as phones, wallets and keys. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a Container Store or Ikea in your area and you can get many organizational ideas there.

Medication is also a big one, and I’ve noticed on days when a student doesn’t take his medication, a new personality evolves and it isn’t always good.  A suggestion would be to use a smart phone so the youngster can take ownership and feel responsible.  You may have to refill the prescription but it should be his responsibility to take the medication.

Making Wise Decisions often includes impulsive ADHD behavior which gets the child into trouble.  You need to focus on consequences for this type of behavior which includes setting penalties for infringements and making them more severe each time the behavior escalates.  If you find you’re unable to enforce the consequences, seek help from a professional ADHD coach.


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