Complicated relationships often arise between ADD-diagnosed fathers and teenagers. Six different strategies can help fathers learn to resolve conflicts with their ADD teenagers.
Dads: Give Your Son a Break
Dads with ADHD often have stormy relationships with their teenage sons. Some feel guilty about passing the condition on to their child; others find it painful to watch him struggle with the same problems they had as a teen. Here are some strategies to resolve conflicts with your ADD son, and be his role model.
- Be aware. Accept the fact that you are angry, frustrated, and fearful. So is your teen—although his bravado may hide it. You can’t help your child through tough times if you can’t control your emotions. If you can’t, seek the help of a doctor or therapist.
- Be honest and positive. Admit to your son that having ADHD is not easy, that it takes a lot of effort to stay on track. Tell him about some of the challenges you have faced, and the ways you have succeeded. Use humor to deflect anxiety. Always reinforce your son’s strengths.
- Practice healthy confrontation. If you are about to lose your temper, use these techniques:
- Avoid accusation—focus on solutions to the problem and teach your teen to find alternatives that work.
- Focus on the behavior—make it clear that your son is not the sum of his behaviors, and that he, within reason, can control them.
- If you or your son starts to shout, break the pattern by speaking softly.
- Stick to your word. It isn’t easy for people with ADHD to remain disciplined enough to mete out consequences. Make this a priority. If you told your son he must be home by 10 or he will lose his car privileges, and he comes home at 11, don’t get angry. Take away his car privileges. This may be inconvenient—you may have to drive him to his tutoring sessions—but do it anyway. If you don’t, your son will miss out on learning to equate his actions with consequences and on seeing that a person with ADHD can demonstrate responsible behavior.
- Avoid the guilt trap. You may have challenges like those of your son, but he is his own person. ADD is an explanation of behaviors, not an excuse for them. Your own failures don’t mean you shouldn’t have reasonable expectations for him.
Humor him a little
Parents who have a sense of humor during tense, stressful situations may make their teen feel more accepted, less anxious, and better able to regulate his emotions, say researchers.
- Accept your imperfections. It is difficult enough to deal with your own ADHD, let alone your teen’s. Don’t let the perception that you’ve failed as a parent, because of your son’s challenges, affect your interactions with him. You are a role model for your son, imperfections and all.
Harold Meyer and Susan Lasky are both Board Certified and Senior Certified ADHD Coaches.
ADD and ADHD are used interchangeably for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
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