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Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens Overview

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common conditions of childhood and adolescence. Research studies differ about how common this condition really is, but most experts agree that it affects 8%-10% of school-aged children. More than 40% of children with ADHD also have ADHD during adolescence. If you are not actively parenting a teen with ADHD, chances are that you know someone who is dealing with this challenge.

Symptoms of ADHD in Teens

ADHD in childhood becomes apparent when the child exhibits symptoms of hyperactivity, inability to sit still or pay attention, and/or impulsivity. In teens, this condition may have characteristics of less obvious hyperactivity and more of boredom, restlessness, and irritability. Adolescents with ADHD are also more likely to be strong willed, have conflicts with peers, parents and other family members, as well as to have trouble effectively managing their anger. The degree of severity of every symptom varies widely. Some adolescents with ADHD may need only mild interventions and guidance, while others require much greater support, potentially including medications or psychotherapy to achieve optimal levels of functioning. While doctors do not fully understand what causes ADHD, it is believed to be related to both environmental triggers and inherited or genetic factors. ADHD tends to run in families. Like any other mental disorder, having ADHD does not protect a teen from having another one, like depression, anxiety, or autism. Therefore, appropriate assessment, treatment, and other support for any co-occurring (comorbid) illness is another important component of parenting the ADHD teen.

ADHD in Teenagers: Boys vs. Girls

ADHD is diagnosed more often in boys than in girls. The predominantly hyperactive type of the condition is thought to be four times more common in boys, while the inattentive type is considered to occur two times more often in boys than in girls. However, those statistics are complicated by the fact that men and women tend to be diagnosed with ADHD in adulthood. Also, the diagnosis may be more difficult to make in girls because of the higher subtlety of symptoms in girls. Children of all ages can be affected, and the condition can persist into adulthood. Medications are available that can treat many of the symptoms of ADHD, although they do not "cure" the condition.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/13/2014

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