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ADHD: Advice to support your teen at home
  • Exercise
  • School timetables visible – Put up your teen’s timetable in a place both you and your child can see. Make use of colour to highlight important days, for example PE days.
  • What I need to remember board – create a board with your teen with the things they need to remember on a daily basis. Getting your teen involved in creating this is important so they feel in control and practise healthy techniques for their adult life.
  • Prepare school bag the night before – support your teen in getting this done. Allocate a place in the house that once this is completed the bag is left so you know when this is done, giving them independence.
  • Check list – create a morning/day checklist with your teen. Have a fresh one every day where your teen can tick these off as they go through their morning/day.
  • Alarm reminders – set alarm reminders, link these to your phone so you can support your teen further.
  • Break down tasks/instructions to smaller achievable activities. Add in some in between rewards to increase motivation. Remember that these have to be meaningful to your teen.
  • Working environment – with your teen create a homework environment.
       Do not make the bed a place to complete homework (see the sleep time tip as to why).
  • Break down homework tasks – often parents worry and avoid helping their teens
       with homework because they don’t feel confident with certain subjects or even the
       technology. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a chemistry teacher to support your teen
       with their homework. All you have to do is break down what the homework is asking
       your teen to do. If you don’t understand the requirements, then email the teacher.
  • Coloured sheets for homework – Black and white backgrounds can overstimulate the ADHD brain so you could try to reprint homework on coloured sheets, not too bright colours though.  

  • Increase motivation – As you will know your teen may struggle to engage in things that they find boring, take too long or are repetitive. Individuals with ADHD find challenging getting the motivation to do things and keep on task. Often they are motivated in doing things when they feel it is urgent, new or something they are personally interested in. There are more tips I can here like timers, doing things in new ways etc.
  • Sleeping routine – According to the Sleep Association up to 50% of those with ADHD experience challenges with sleeping. This percentage is believed to get worst in adulthood. Generally, the main issue is getting to sleep. This then has a ripple effect, impacting on the quality and quantity of sleep an individual has, reducing the amount of time then impacts you getting up in the morning as well as a person’s performance throughout the day.  The internal rhythm of the ADHD person, or internal clock is delayed so it needs to be retrained to your child’s needs.
Try some of these:
  • Control light exposure: expose your teen to lots of light in the morning and avoid it at night. There are some artificial lights that can help create this illusion of natural light.
  • Create bedtime and morning routines and stick to these. This is like creating an internal rhythm for your teen’s body clock. It will support their body know when it is time to be alert and when it is time to relax.
  •  Declutter the brain before sleep or also known as “brain dump”. Your teen could write their thoughts on paper, post it notes, you could write it for them, you could also record it for example. This is a technique that may help reduce racing thoughts before bedtime, it is also great to connect with your teen, alternatively they can do this on their own.
  • Reduce use of technology a couple of hours before bedtime. When this cannot be the case turn the blue light filter on to reduce alerting the brain further.
  • Leave technology out of your teen’s bedroom. I know this will not be a popular suggestion with your teen, however, it will help! You could have a place where your teen leaves their technology and then can retrieve them the next day. Remember that trust is massive, and your teen will need to feel that you or younger siblings etc will not invade their privacy.  
  • Let the bed only be for sleeping, not for playing, using technology, eating for example. It can also not be the place the “brain dump” exercise is done. The brain makes associations which helps the body get ready for activities.
  • Calming sleeping environment – remember your teen’s sensory needs here and support creating a calming environment. This will be very personal to your teen including the type of bedding, smells, plush, etc that they may need to support them to feel relaxed and safe.
  • What both research and my experience has taught me is that those with ADHD have significant challenges with their executive functioning skills. I invite you to click on the highlighted word for further FREE tips on how to further support your child/young person. 
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