Teens

Problem Peers

A worried parent says:

My 16-year-old son has been diagnosed with ADD. He has a difficult time making friends and maintaining them. Recently he has started being around negative peers that do drugs and have been arrested. Yesterday I found a gun hidden in his closet, I’m afraid for my son’s safety and future. He has been seeing a psychiatrist who prescribes medication but he needs counseling or a boarding school.

Michele Novotni answers:

First of all — remove the gun if you haven’t already done so and call your son’s psychiatrist for immediate help. The psychiatrist can make the determination as to whether or not your son is a danger to himself or others. Let the psychiatrist or a professional you trust direct you as to the appropriate steps to take for your son.

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for adolescents with ADD or other learning difficulties and social skills problems to become depressed. They sometimes can even become suicidal due to the pain of being socially rejected or excluded. They may seek out an undesirable peer group in which they find acceptance. You are very wise to be concerned about your son. It is important to get your son the help he needs immediately to better manage his ADD and to learn the social skills he needs to improve his ability to connect and relate to others. I want to leave you with hope because there are very effective treatments for both the ADD and for helping people learn social skills.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine ©2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

What is Normal Adolescent Behavior?

A mother wonders:

My 14-year-old ADD son has recently become more agitate, argumentative and less tolerant – especially with me, his mother. Could this be part of normal adolescence or could he possible need adjustments or changes in his medication?

Michele Novotni answers:

One easy way to tell if your son’s behavior is medication related is to look at whether his behavior is better on or off medication. It is also possible that due to hormonal changes, his present medication is not sufficient. If the behaviors do not seem to be medication related, counseling may provide the help you are seeking.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine ©2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

Oppositional Behavior in Young Adults

DWM in California wonders:

I am curious what possible issues the “oppositional defiance” component will produce in our son as he enters his twenties. His teenage years required SIGNIFICANT parental intervention.

Michele Novotni answers:

I’m not sure that this is the answer that you want, but you are probably in for more of the same.

It is often helpful for many parents to continuing providing some degree of reasonable emotional/problem solving support to their adult children with AD/HD, especially when additional psychologist issues are present. The encouraging part is that you made it this far and have probably developed some strategies that have worked.

I would however, encourage you to not do more than you feel comfortable with. As people with AD/HD get older, they can also be encouraged to obtain needed support through coaches, psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, etc. and become more independent and self reliant as they learn to take responsibility for managing their AD/HD. I wish you all well.

This article is published by permission from ADDitude Magazine ©2004. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited. Subscribe to ADDitude online or via toll-free phone 888-762-8475.

Relationship tips for teens

JL in California asks:

How do I teach my 16-year-old son the right way to approach a girl he likes and is interested in? He overwhelms them by the amount of attention he gives them (constant phone calling) etc. Plus, he will tell within days how much he likes her. It does not take long before the girl gives him the cold shoulder. He is tall, handsome and a charmer. He says he understands what I am telling about giving the girl some space and time to get to know him. But it all goes out the window when he starts pursuing someone.

Michele Novotni answers:

Fortunately, your son has many strong features. It sounds like the areas of patience and restraint can use some help. Many people with AD/HD have similar social difficulties due to impulsivity. It seems that he might not fully understand the smothering impact of his behavior.

… he might not fully understand the smothering impact of his behavior.

An important question to ask him would be, “Is what you are doing working?” If he feels that his active/very active pursuit is effective, your role would be in helping him to understand that he is not as successful as he sees himself.

Keeping records may help him understand the need to find another approach Suggest he keep track of the number and the times of his phone calls and her responses. When he tells a girl he likes her, how can he see that she is beginning to give him the cold shoulder.

It may also be possible that data will show that he is more successful than you thought and no intervention is needed.

If he feels like he is not currently successful, engage his cooperation in working on curbing his impulsive behavior. Perhaps work with him to make up three rules for him to follow for social relationships. Such as, You may only call one time per day; you may only call three times without a return call. (Be careful that he sees these rules as his and for his benefit and not for you!)

Develop wording to use in the different stages in a relationship to show that he cares. The key is to work with your son to develop more effective strategies that he will feel comfortable implementing.

The first rule for those who want to help is to make sure that your help is wanted. Next, make sure that what you are doing is perceived as helpful. I encourage you to ask your son how your can best help support him in this process. I wish you well.