Helping Teenage son deal with ADHD


Hi everyone,
I am new to the forum, but find the comments given very useful.
I have a teenage son who was diagnosed with ADHD last year. He is not on medication because we are afraid of the side effects. He is having a lot of problems with time management and organization. I have made routines and he does not use any of the resources to help him I even told him I would reward him monetarily for every task he completes without any reminders. He starts for a couple of days and goes back to his usual self after. What can I do to him be self motivated?

Thanks in advance!

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What kind of interests do he have? If he likes RPG’s, there’s an app that gamifies tasks, etc. so that might be an option. As for time management, color coding can be really useful. And trying to show him why something is interesting or useful might work, depending on his interests, and what the ‘task’ is.

As for using money to reward him, that I don’t think will work too well, to be honest. And asking HIM to take responsibility (in a relatively gentle way), and making him PART of the solution, rather than it being something put ON him might engage him more. So maybe discuss what he would consider reasonable tasks he should have, try to figure out and negotiate, show him that the rest of the family is doing tasks, so he should do his share too. Not by telling him, but showing him, could work. But with few parameters, it’s a bit hard to tell, to be honest. But hopefully some of these ideas might help…:sweat_smile:

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Thank you very much Marodir for your response.
Since i am not a techie, what are RPG’s?



RPGs are role playing games I believe.

I personally have almost always gone the other way when people have told me what i should do :flushed:

The odd thing now (except it’s probably not very odd, as Maduro advises this too) is that I actually ask my coach how to do this stuff better, and take her advice!

It’s almost impossible to change someone else’s behaviour, i reckon. It’s hard enough to change your own. So a good chat about whether there are behaviours your son actually wants to change, even if it costs him a lot of effort, might help. And then asking who or what might help him in that.

This might be better coming from someone else though, as the thing about parents (i am one, as well as having them myself) is that we have long memories and tend to stay in our children’s lives.

Which can make it harder to discuss this kind of thing, because as a Brain I know I might/will probably fail, so I often don’t like to tell people I am trying to change something until I know I’m succeeding.

The other thing might be patience and trust. Is his lack of planning etc causing him distress? If it is, he may well want to change that. If not, or not much, maybe just waiting is best. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Frustrating though it may be from the outside, pushing may yield the opposite of what you hope.

One of my kids decided eventually for himself that he was spending too much time online and not enough time with real people. I had thought that for years before he did, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.

(Plus, where am I now? :wink: His justification was mostly sound and it is of course true that online friends are also real people etc. I am a real person and I’m online, and so is he.)




I am hopelessly disorganised and also have terrible time management.

Something I’ve just started using myself is a blackboard in my kitchen and I write down all the tasks that I need to do and at what time I need to do it on there.

Having reminders for me is so important as no matter how hard I try I often simply forget what I should be doing.

It also gives me great satisfaction simply being able to rub the tasks off the board as I complete them, and I have been so much more productive since I started using it and I no longer feel so overwhelmed when I have several things which I need to do.

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That’s the hardest question because as an ADHDer here that very project is what struggle the most with and it can be very depressing because he wants to please you but it doesn’t come easy for him… its actually harder with out meds to remember where things go… and its a project.
Focus on his strengths for now…
I learned to delagate what I wasn’t good at and that works for me… even if I pay for it… because even though I love perfection and everything in its place… i cant get myself to finish in one go… its mind boggling



You know, that very Project… executive Function, is the reason That I went to a Psychiatrist because I knew I had to do it, my brain knew and understood there was bad consequences if I didn’t do it… and yet I went zombie mode… didn’t do it… couldn’t do it… which was the problem. It brought me much depression.



If I may be so bold, what side-effects are you worried about, and from which type of medication? There are several different types depending on where you live (the amphetamines are illegal in some places, like Adderall), and they act differently on the brain. Not sure exactly how old your son is, but another problem with medication is ‘diverting’ medication, i.e. giving it to friends or selling it, since people think they can get high from it (in reality it’s only a placebo effect.)



Good morning everyone,
Happy Saturday!!!
Thank you all for your responses.
My son is 14 years old and to be honest, he takes
AGAPE vitamins, probiotics, omega 3 and rhodiola.
He has all of the tools he needs from timers, white boards, and reminder apps.
He just does not use any of them unless I remind him.
He is a slow reader and waits until the last moment to do any ELA homework. Most of the time, the work is sloppy because he has no time to edit or revise it. So his grades are poor as a result. On the other-hand, he loves math and quickly does that.
I have taught him many strategies on how to use his time better, but to no avail, thus leading to my frustrations.
I don’t know if I should stop reminding him and let him fail with hopes that he learns from his mistakes.



Honestly, I don’t know if he’ll learn much from failing, other than that ‘he’s a failure’… Sounds to me like he doesn’t find it at all interesting, that’s why he struggles. But it can be really hard to get someone passionate about learning something they don’t like from before. (Apart from my personal issue with the name) What part of ELA does he struggle with the most? All of it, or something specific? Does he like to read, or write fan fictions, maybe? (I wouldn’t recommend online reading, since way too much is written exceedingly poorly…:sweat_smile:) I am usually of the opinion that pretty much everyone loves reading, and if they don’t, they just haven’t found the right books yet.:sweat_smile: As for writing, does he have to write by hand, or is PC OK?

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It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things but perhaps concentrating on one thing at a time until it becomes part of his routine before you move onto the next one would be a good idea.

Just keep breaking things down into simpler and simpler tasks until you find a level that is manageable for him, and then just keep building on it from there.

For instance with my sons morning routine we started by making him get his own clothes out ready for school, when that became a routine he had to get his clothes out and make his own breakfast, then get his clothes out, make his breakfast and pack his school bag and so on,he is only 10 so it’s a little bit different but you get the idea :slightly_smiling_face:



Step by step is my new mantra :slightly_smiling_face:

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You sound exactly like my mother, which is not necessarily a bad thing. When she decided she could no longer homeschool me and sent me back into the public school system, she was constantly having to pry me away from video games to do my homework. It wasn’t that unusual for her to even take a lead role in finishing major school projects for me such as science fairs or physics labs. She became my external motivation and safety net. And it was extremely unhealthy. We developed a co-dependent mother/child relationship. Naturally when I grew up, left the house, and got married, my poor wife also became ensnared in a co-dependent mother/child relationship where she was now the mother figure.

For both of your sakes, I would suggest that you do not keep reminding him or cleaning up after his mistakes. Right now he is still at a point in his life where failure is not going to carry the same weight as it will later on. He needs this time to really understand the consequences of his inaction and form his own internal motivation. If you continue to act as his source of motivation, his efforts to change will only last so long as you are hovering over him and giving him direction. Once he is beyond your influence, this lack of direction will leave him confused and uncertain.

Now that is not to say that you cannot or should not provide encouragement! If he is doing something well, by all means, tell him that you think he is doing a good job. You can even provide suggestions! The key is to let him make the effort into actually using the suggestion; don’t make the plan, structure everything, and then place it in his lap for him to hold and take care of. I can tell you from personal experience, that doesn’t work. He needs to feel attached and invested in the plan. The best way to do this is to let him be the one to make the plan.

I know it can be frustrating, and in a way ADHD has a bit of a catch 22. We desperately need forms of external reminders and structure, but (some of us at least) have a deep resentment toward firm schedules. Just understand that deep down your son wants to please you, to make you proud and earn your praise. It’s just that the pathway to that reward has a lot of relatively mundane and uninteresting tasks blocking the way, things that a neuro-typical individual wouldn’t really have a problem with.

If he is not going to take medication to help deal with the physical differences in his brain, external sources of motivation and remembrance will be even more important than ever. And that is only if his symptoms aren’t so severe that he can’t remember to check the physical reminders! Honestly, smartphone apps are the best tool I have found for an external source of reminders. Motivation, however, is an entirely different bear, and I’m not quite confident enough to suggest any solutions.

I hope this has helped. Please remember that your son does love you, even if his actions seem dismissive.

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Thank you so much for such thoughtful insight!!



Happy Sunday!!
I want to thank you all for all of the wonderful suggestions offered. I appreciate all of it and will try some of them.
Thanks again!