On the last track, we discussed the Five General Principles for Managing
ADHD Adolescent Behavior. The Five General Principles for Managing ADHD
Adolescent Behavior are State of Mind, What Type of Adolescent, Relationship
with the Adolescent, Seriousness of Problem, and Realistic Expectations.
On this track... we will discuss the Four Common Errors a parent of an
ADHD teenager may make. I have found that the Four Common Errors for the
parent of an ADHD teenager are 1. spontaneous discussions about problems,
2. nagging, 3. insight transplants, and 4. arguing. Remember Christine
and Andy from the previous track? Let’s look more closely at how
Christine made the Four Common Errors of a parent of an ADHD teenager.
Christine, mother of Andy, age 18 diagnosed with
ADHD, was frustrated
with her son’s behaviors. The most recent trigger for an angry
outburst for Christine had been Andy’s decision to get his ears
pierced. Christine stated, "As soon as I saw those studs in his
ears, I just started yelling at him. He just argued with me, which led
us to arguing about other things, like how he wouldn’t help around
the house and avoided school work. Finally, I just told Andy he was grounded
him for a month." Christine then got upset when Andy kicked in
two of the doors in the house following the argument. Sound like a situation
a client of yours may have been in recently?
After I explained to Christine the Five General Principles for Managing
ADHD Adolescent Behavior, which we discussed on the last track, I thought
she might benefit from knowing the Four Common Errors a parent with an
ADHD teenager may make.
Four Common Errors
Error #1 - Spontaneous Discussions about Problems
The first of the Four Common Errors a parent of an ADHD teenager can
make is Spontaneous Discussions About Problems. As you know, spontaneous
discussions will almost always increase irritability and decrease cooperation.
Christine and Andy’s irritability was magnified by the fact that
they were already having an argument about Andy’s new piercings
when Christine decided to bring up other problems
.Error #2 - Nagging
Christine made the second of the Four Common Errors of a parent of an
ADHD teenager, Nagging, as well. Christine was a chronic nagger when it
came to little things Andy would do – or, more often, would not
do. She stated, "I feel like I have to yell at him every day to
hang his coat up in the closet. And don’t even get me started about
what I do when I walk past his bedroom! I tell him all the time he needs
to make it so I can at least see the floor, but does he ever listen?
I stated, "Nagging can be defined as a set of repetitive
verbal reminders from one person to another – does it seem like
that’s what you were doing?" As you know, behind nagging
is the parental delusion that the answer to cooperation lies in repetition.
I explained to Christine that the best antidote to nagging, especially
if the problem is minor, is to simply bite your tongue.
Error #3 - Insight Transplants
In addition to Spontaneous Discussions About Problems
and Nagging, the
third of the Four Common Errors for a parnt of an ADHD teenager is Insight Transplants. As you know, insight transplants, more commonly known as lectures, will do little to motivate a teenager with ADHD to correct his
behavior. I explained to Christine that her Insight Transplants were
likely going in one ear and out the other for Andy.
I stated, "When
he’s being lectured, Andy’s probably thinking just one thing, ‘how
can I get out of here as soon as possible?’ The point of your lecture
may not be bad, but the fact is that it will most likely produce a lot
of aggravation and little change."
Error #4 - Arguing
Finally, the fourth of the Four Common Errors a parent of an ADHD teenager
can make is Arguing. In Christine and Andy’s case, arguments clearly
got them nowhere. As you know, arguments can be pretty near endless when
both Christine and Andy insist on having the last word. Christine and
Andy’s argument over the earrings, for example, ended with Andy
kicking in two doors – his way of having the last word.
5-Step Technique: Problem Solving Worksheet
To help Christine find a better solution to approaching problems with
Andy, I explained that the best method to avoid making any of the Four
Common Errors is to make an appointment. I suggested, "Try setting
up a time with him in advance and letting him know what you want to talk
about." Once the appointment was made, I suggested Christine use
the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise. Together Christine
and I did a bit of role-playing to do a practice worksheet.
approached the problem from her perspective, while I acted how Andy may
Step 1 - First, we identified the problem. Christine wrote on the
worksheet, "Andy doesn’t clean his room regularly."
Step 2 - Second,
we thought of some different plans to solve the problem. In our brainstorm,
we talked about a number of different options and wrote them down in
a list. The list included plans like "Andy can’t watch TV
until he cleans his room" and "Andy will clean his room once
a week or be grounded."
Step 3 - In the third step, we both rated each plan
with plusses and minuses to determine which plan would be the best one.
The plan Christine and I decided was the best was the plan in which Andy
would clean his room once a week or be grounded.
Step 4 - The fourth step is to
try the plan. On the worksheet, we wrote down what each Christine and
Andy would have to do to make the plan work. Christine agreed to give
Andy three reminders each week. Playing Andy, I agreed that I would accept
the grounding punishment if after three reminders I still hadn’t
cleaned my room.
Step 5 - For the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise,
the fifth and final step is to evaluate if the plan worked. I explained
to Christine that she would need to hang on to the worksheets she did
At the conclusion of each plan, Christine and Andy would need
to discuss how the plan worked, what they could have done to make it
better, and what each of them thought of the plan. (Parker 97)
Do you have a client like Christine who has an ADHD teenager and makes
some of the Four Common Errors of spontaneous discussions about problems,
nagging, insight transplants, and arguing? Would your Christine benefit
from the "Problem-Solving Worksheet" exercise?
On this track... we have discussed the Four Common Errors for the parent
of an ADHD teenager, which are: 1. spontaneous discussions about problems,
2. nagging, 3. insight transplants, and 4. arguing.
On the next track, we will discuss the Four Steps for
dealing with an ADHD teenager’s problems. The Four Steps to use in dealing with an ADHD
teenager’s problems are 1. Doing nothing, 2. Consulting, 3. Negotiating,
and 4. Taking Charge.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Musser, E. D., Karalunas, S. L., Dieckmann, N., Peris, T. S., & Nigg, J. T. (2016). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder developmental trajectories related to parental expressed emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 125(2), 182–195.
Sibley, M. H., Graziano, P. A., Kuriyan, A. B., Coxe, S., Pelham, W. E., Rodriguez, L., Sanchez, F., Derefinko, K., Helseth, S., & Ward, A. (2016). Parent–teen behavior therapy + motivational interviewing for adolescents with ADHD. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(8), 699–712.
Weyers, L., Zemp, M., & Alpers, G. W. (2019). Impaired interparental relationships in families of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A meta-analysis. Zeitschrift für Psychologie, 227(1), 31–41.
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