When Teens With ADHD Are Defiant

By Eileen Bailey

When a teen is defiant, the entire household suffers. Parents are often exhausted from fighting on the battleground that was once their home. Parents may ignore when their teens shirk their responsibilities, stay out later than curfew or do poorly in school. Strained relationships ensue and younger siblings even feel the stress in the house. Worried about escalating conflicts or emotional explosions, parents may keep quiet, feeling that short-term peace is more beneficial or just simpler to live with.

Parents, however, need to speak up and reclaim their home as theirs. This, however, is easier said than done.

Setting Non-negotiable Rules

Each home should have a set of non-negotiable rules. These are the core rules are include items such as:

· No drug or alcohol use
· Curfew
· Schoolwork
· Respect for other household members

When Teens Go Out

Parents need additional information to monitor their teen’s activities. For example, parents have the right to know:

· Where their teen is
· Who they are with
· When they are going and when they expect to be back
· What they will be doing
· How they will get there and how they will get home

Parents also have the right to tell teens if they are not allowed to be associated with certain individuals or if places are off limits. If a teen wants to spend the night at a friend’s home, the parent should be getting the name, address and phone number of the friend and verifying the sleepover. If a parent is not able to confirm the information with another adult, the teen is not allowed to go. . If you suspect that you are not speaking with another adult (teen pretending to be a parent, older sibling, etc) make a trip to the house to speak to someone in person. Most parents will welcome your phone call and will be glad that other parents are involved with their children. In addition, becoming friendly with the parents of your teen’s friends can help you to monitor their activities as a group.

Curfews should be set reasonably, taking into account not only your child’s chronological age but their emotional age as well. Teens with ADHD are often emotionally immature and may need additional time to develop responsible habits. Teens must be given some freedom in order to develop independence skills. However, if your teen is not willing to abide by curfews, you will need to decide whether they will be allowed to go out at all. Let your teen know that you expect your curfew to be followed. Set consequences and rewards for following curfew. For example, if your teen does not arrive home on time, their curfew will be lowered to an earlier time. If they follow curfew for a certain amount of time and show responsibility their curfew time can be extended.
For the non-negotiable rules, there must be specific consequences (preferably written down) and enforceable. Your teen must be aware of what will happen if they do not follow the rules. Be as specific as possible when determining rules and consequences. Writing them down will help you to react calmly when a situation occurs rather than reacting emotionally.

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