How to Talk to Teens​

If you have a teenager in the house, you know that sometimes it is challenging to talk with them. One moment they are people of few words, while other times they display lots of emotion that can erupt in outbursts. They enjoy testing boundaries and often trust what their friends say more than what the adults in their life tell them.


When a teen has ADHD, these patterns can be heightened. So, what is a parent, or someone who works with teens, to do?


I found this article from ADDitude magazine helpful. I'll share a few of the tips here; for the rest, click through to the full article.


One tip I really appreciated was to share specific praise rather than global praise. For example, rather than saying, "You're a great writer," it is much more meaningful to tell the teen something explicit, like, "I appreciate that you took the time to research your topic well and find compelling evidence for your thesis." I think any of us appreciate thoughtful compliments that show we are really paying attention to others.


Along these same lines, I also liked the advice to ask instead of ordering. It looks like this: rather than ordering a student to get their biology project finished by Sunday night, ask them what their plan is for getting it done. If they respond with something like, "I have it under control," ask what specific steps they will be doing. If it seems like they are stalling or hedging, offer to help them write down a plan they can follow.


For more along these lines, I highly recommend Dr. Dan Siegel's book Brainstorm.