6 Things To Teach Your ADHD Teens Before They Graduate


This week, in honor of ADHD Awareness Week, we’ve opted to run some ImpactADHD favorites. These are Cathy and Tishia’s favorite posts. What are yours?

Parents, I hope you’ll personalize, print and share this with your teen. If you have younger kids, let this be a guide to the areas of independence they will need in the future. You will not likely get them there 100% — that’s true for ALL teens! But we owe it to our kids to let them know how excited we are for them, how much we believe in them – and exactly what they’ll need to begin to do for themselves!

My dearest teen-ager,

Lying in bed, unable to sleep, I realize that your impending departure is nagging at me (yes, you’re not the only one who feels nagged). It’s not that I don’t want you to soar out of our nest. On the contrary, for more reasons than I can express, I want you to spread your wings and fly.

But I must confess, it worries me just a bit. I know you’re ready to start living your own life. But are you ready to manage it? That’s a different story!

I’ve tried to prepare you for your independence. I’ve offered support & resources, structures & strategies. You’ve adopted what you were ready for. Now, I have to trust that you will remember the rest when the need arises.

You, my love, are an incredibly strong, resourceful, intelligent young soul. You are capable beyond measure of all that you put your mind to. In so many ways you have wisdom beyond your years.

The details? Well, they’re another story. I pray that your inner manager will surface and accompany you on your journey, perhaps more actively than it has in the past (this is when you laugh out loud!).

On a practical level, I must transfer certain duties and responsibilities to you upon your departure. There are so many things that I do for you now, things that might have escaped your attention. You will soon need to do all of these things for yourself.

It will take time to acquire these skills. Rather than getting overwhelmed or confused, I hope this will empower you, step by step, to take the lead in your own life. I know you can do it!

So here goes. This is what we’ve been doing for you for the last several years, though not completely. Still, I think a good list is always helpful (you know how I love my lists!). At least, it’s a start.

Job description for parents of kids with ADHD

Job Title: Substitute Frontal Lobe

1. Waking up

Determine what time you need to awaken in the morning
Set an alarm for myself to be your back up if you do not have an alarm set
Wake you up when your alarm fails to awaken you
Wake you up with snuggles and hugs, or sprays of water and drags across the floor – depending on your need that day (ok, and our mood)

2. Getting Ready for the Day

Help make sure you are focused to eat & take care of your health
Help prepare breakfast and/or get stuff ready to leave the house
Provide time awareness until you get out of the house (close to) on time
Provide & pay for transportation (including insurance for the car)

3. Work/School Responsibilities

Communicate with your educators, and help you communicate with them to stay on top of your work
Attend to your calendar each day, and help you remember to be mindful of what is expected of you
Encourage you to pay attention to your responsibilities and school expectations
Manage your medical, educational, personal care and work appointments

4. Health Management

Monitor your behavior and your mood, and help you communicate with your doctors for optimal medical management
Arrange for medications and vitamins (and remind you to take them)
Schedule routine medical appointments, including dentist, eye doctor, general physician, and any specialists
Encourage you to exercise and get some sleep

5. Personal Success

Bring awareness to distractions so you can get back on track
Assist you in identifying what you want to achieve
Assist you in planning for what it is you want to do, or are expected to do
Provide money, either through allowance or for chores that earn money

6. Household Responsibilities

Pay attention to your laundry, remind you to do it, and help with it
Remind you to take care of your household chores
Arrange for your food: meal planning, grocery shopping
Arrange for essentials: shampoo, toothpaste, toilet paper, etc.

Here’s what I wish I could do for you when you are away, but I will have to figure out how to do them “virtually”

Make you tea when you don’t feel well
Bring you cookies when you are studying
Provide “poor baby” hugs upon demand!
Snuggle with you, and play with your hair, and remind you, daily, that you are loved!

Here’s what I’ll continue to do for you, no matter where you go, or how far apart we dwell

Love you unconditionally
Believe in your incredible, boundless capabilities
Help you identify what motivates you
Teach you to fail forward and encourage you to try, and try again
Celebrate successes, large and small

So, my love, perhaps now you have a better understanding of why I’ve seemed a little stressed, lately. That nagging feeling I have is not about wanting you to stay. Are you kidding? I’m exhausted!

It’s about wanting to do all I can to enable you to fly away safely.

Oh, and two more things. First, wherever you go, however near or far you fly, I want you to remember that you will always find a safe landing with us. Second, if you remember nothing else, remember to believe in yourself. With that belief, you can move mountains!

With all our love,

Mom and Dad

Elaine Taylor-Klaus and Diane Dempster, founders of ImpactADHD.com, teach/write about practical strategies to parents of “complex” kids with ADHD and related challenges. To help your kids find the motivation to get anything done, download their free parent’s guide, The Parent’s Guide to Motivating Your Complex Child.

This article was originally published at ImpactADHD. Reprinted with permission from the author.