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Posts in Teens
How Adults can help Teens with ADHD

In the article, “The Pivotal Role of Adults in Teen ADHD Care,” author Mark Bertin acknowledges the effects of ADHD on teens and how parents can have an important role in their child's development. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is defined as a medical disorder that affects one's impulses, concentration, organization and planning skills, and delays academic independence.

Many teens struggle with ADHD and have a hard time keeping up with their peers. Because of this, it is important for parents to understand the impact of ADHD on academic planning. Students who have ADHD usually require a helping hand from an adult until they demonstrate that they are capable of being independent on their own. For teenagers, difficulty in administrative functions such as memory, productivity, time management, and writing skills is seen to hold some back at times. This is when teenagers need their parents. They need someone to support and motivate them to keep going even though it is challenging.

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Some ways to help support students is by creating habits and routines that can get them on a schedule. Those with ADHD like to have activities planned out for them at certain times. This helps them plan out their day and have a visual of what they are going to do. If tasks and activities are repeated each day, then teens with ADHD will excel at those tasks even quicker because they are practicing it so often. Once your teenager completes a set of activities that are up to par, then it is time to introduce new ones. Slowly but surely, your teenager will be able to remember their schedule on their own and take responsibility for doing their tasks on time. By practicing, teenagers are able to build up muscle memory on their own and enhance their cognitive skills without help from a parent. Through repetition and consistent reminders, parents can step back and let their student thrive on their own once their routine is solidified. Even though it may be frustrating at times, it is part of the process of building up a child’s muscle memory so they know how to do tasks on their own. It is important to confirm that students know how to:

  • Keep track of assignments by making a to-do list

  • Break projects up into parts

  • Manage their time

  • Organize themselves

  • Study and write well  

If they need extra help, it is important for parents and teachers to know how to support teenagers with ADHD using the following approach:

  • Promote independence. Only assist students if they need help refocusing on what their routines are supposed to entail by frequently checking in. Otherwise, let them learn from their mistakes and grow as an individual.

  • Intervene early. Instead of sitting back and watching, prompt students to fix their mistakes at the moment.

  • Provide guidance. Try to collaborate more with students and give more direct instruction when problem-solving. This reinforcement will help students understand what is needed to be done when it is first asked.

  • Take the lead. If students are struggling to maintain their habits, this is the time to step in and help them.

  • Gradually withdraw supports. Slowly step away from consistently helping students when they show that they are capable of being on their own. It may take time to fully withdraw support, so be patient. Based on one’s academic skills, it may take them all the way through college to be independent.

  • Return to step one at any time new ADHD-related challenges continue.    

For more information on how ADHD affects teenagers, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

#ADHD affects, parent roles, teen health

Referances

Bertin, Mark. “The Pivotal Role of Adults in Teen ADHD Care.” Psychology Today. Child Development Central. Web. 24 Sep. 2018. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/child-development-central/201809/the-pivotal-role-adults-in-teen-adhd-care

Parent's Perspective of the Tween's brain

In the article, “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents,” Annie Reneau described an example of good parenting. There is no true definition of great parenting, but one that comes close to that is someone who is willing to take the time to talk to their child. In order to gain a better perspective of what is going through your child’s mind, both you and your child should both take the time to respectfully listen to each other. This is the time to acknowledge that your child is going through a stage, called puberty, where it is very difficult for your child to control their emotions. This is not a time to yell at your child for being moody, but an instance where you can help your child understand why they are moody in the first place. Maybe they don’t even know what or why they are saying something in a specific tone in the first place.

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All mothers have to raise their child into the teen years, so why not treat the scenario the best you can? A mother of an 11-year-old boy asked a question about parenting on Quora: “How do I tell my wonderful 11 year old son, (in a way that won’t tear him down), that the way he has started talking to me (disrespectfully) makes me not want to be around him (I’ve already told him the bad attitude is unacceptable)?”

Reneau interviewed Jo Eberhardt, a mother of two, who replied with a solid answer to the common question “how do I talk to my child about their emotions and their attitude towards me when they are experiencing puberty without pushing them away?” Eberhardt recounts a discussion that she had with her 11 ½-year-old son who was experiencing what every tween child goes through, the terrible twos all over again...puberty.

Instead of Eberhardt telling her son you did this because or you did that because, she remembered that is was not her son who purposefully talked to her rudely, but his brain. We forget that it is our brain that is controlling our emotions and changing as we grow and age. She stated that “Not only is your body being transformed from a child’s body to an adult’s body, your brain has to be completely rewritten from a child's brain to an adult’s brain” because at age 5 or 6 it was fully developed for a child but not yet ready to fit an adult body. Puberty is the training process for your brain to get used to your new body and fully develop a sense of who you are.

Certain parts of the brain such as the amygdala, a part of the brain that controls your emotions, also control how much sleep one gets and how cranky one may be in the morning. Eberhardt’s son began to understand how his moodiness could come off frustrating to his mother. Not only did he come to a consensus, but so did his mother who also realized how unmanageable it may be for an adult-sized amygdala hitting all your emotion buttons at once.

This is the time when one needs to raise their child's spirit and be careful not to break it. Admit to your child that it is not their fault for not having a fully developed amygdala and frontal cortex, but instead, praise them for seeing that their bodies are changing and the hormone changes that come with it.

By explaining the physiological reasons behind their changing bodies, children may begin to understand that it is puberty’s fault that their brain is working the way it does. Eberhardt stated that it is still your responsibility to take ownership of your actions and recognize what is going on and choose another way: “You get to choose what you do with your feelings. And, when you make a mistake, you get to choose to apologize for that mistake and make amends.”

Keep empathizing and communicating with your child. This way “when we let one’s kids know that we're going through these various phases together, it's easier to work with them instead of against them” (Ebehardt). As their adult brain is developing, they need to realize that their hormones are ranging and how to control them. At least now they know it is not their fault for being moody and why. Every child goes through this treacherous stage in life, so give them some slack because you went through it too.

Contact us for more information on how to communicate with your child and how your family can function best throughout puberty. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Reneau, Annie. “This mother's description of her tween son's brain is a must-read for all parents.” UpWorthy. Web. 4 Jan. 2019. https://www.upworthy.com/this-mother-s-description-of-her-tween-son-s-brain-is-a-must-read-for-all-parents

Later School Start Times For Teens

As many American teenagers are beginning middle school and high school, more homework is starting to pile up and extracurriculars after school are beginning. Take sports for example, on average they are 2 hours long whether they are right after school or at 6:30 at night. When students get home after practice, there is still homework to do which takes about 30 min. to 2/3 hours depending on the subject. By the time students eat dinner, shower, and begin homework it is around 9 o’clock. This leaves little to no room for the full 8 hours of sleep if students are studying for hours and planning to wake up at 6:30 the next morning.

In the article, “Sleepless No More In Seattle — Later School Start Time Pays Off For Teens,” Patti Neighmond introduces the idea that schools should have a later start time in order for students to get that extra half an hour to an hour more of shut-eye.

For example schools in Seattle recently made the change for middle and high schools to start at 8:45 rather than 7:50 a.m in the 2016-2017 school year. Even though this shift required the rescheduling of extracurricular activities and bus routes, students were now allowed to sleep in and come to school rested and ready to learn. Researchers from the University of Washington conducted a study that found that those students who had the later start time “got 34 minutes more sleep on average” and “boosted their total nightly sleep from 6 hours and 50 minutes to 7 hours and 24 minutes.” Not only did students get more sleep, it was also recognized that students began to get better grades and received fewer tardies along with being absent less because there was no excuse for staying home or being late because one did not get enough sleep.

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Similarly, Horacio de la Iglesia, a researcher and a biology professor at the University of Washington, stated that "to ask a teen to be up and alert at 7:30 a.m. is like asking an adult to be active and alert at 5:30 a.m." No one wants to do that.

Many studies were conducted to test the different start times and which one would have the greatest positive effect on a students mental health.

In one study, researchers compared two groups of students at Roosevelt and Franklin high school who took a biology class. "When they started at 7:50 a.m. there would always be stragglers who were having a hard time getting here," says Cindy Jatul, one of the biology teachers at Roosevelt High School. It was seen that students who took the class in the morning were less alert and engaged in the lesson compared to those who took the same class with the same curriculum later on in the day.

In addition, Franklin High School science teacher A.J. Katzaroff says "there was lots of yawning" when school started at 7:50 a.m. It was noticeable that it was harder to focus on class discussions and activities because the student’s brain was not fully awake. After the time switched from a 7:50 to an 8:45 start time, students were more engaged and willing to come to school ready to learn on time.

Neighmond acknowledged that students need time to wake their brain up, so let’s let them. It is understandable that there may be some drawbacks for parents that need to get to work early in the morning, but for those who do get that extra half an hour of sleep will be more engaged and on time to class and all and all get better grades.

Many might think that when school starts later, teens will just stay up later, but instead, students will take advantage of the extra time to sleep. When it comes to sleep every minute counts.

If you have questions about teen development and the effects of later sleep times, please contact us. For more information on therapy, visit FAQ at Hilber Psychological Services.

-Written by Lily Schmitt and Tanya L. Hilber, PsyD

References

Neighmond, Patti. “Sleepless No More In Seattle — Later School Start Time Pays Off For Teens.” NPR News. Your Health. Web. 12 Dec. 2018.
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/12/12/676118782/sleepless-no-more-in-seattle-later-school-start-time-pays-off-for-teens