7 Tips for Teens With ADHD

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN on March 6, 2021
  • Teenage Caucasian boy holding smartphone and smiling
    Dealing With ADHD in Adolescence
    Managing attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adolescence is a challenge during this time of massive change and increasing responsibility. As a teen with ADHD, you’re dealing with the same hormonal swings and social pressures as your peers, but your brain works a bit differently. Your friends might seem effortlessly organized, while you struggle to remember assignments. Sitting still and paying attention in a quiet environment might still be hard for you, and resisting peer pressure is more difficult when you’re prone to impulsivity. Fortunately, these seven tips can help you manage ADHD in adolescence and beyond.
  • Young girl with glasses working on laptop in classroom with teacher
    1. Ask your school for reasonable accommodations.
    If ADHD causes significant impairment to your ability to work, you’re protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This means you are entitled to reasonable accommodations that will make it easier for you to function at school. These accommodations may include extra time to take tests or complete assignments, changes to the classroom environment, and modified instruction. Your school counselor or college disability office can help you work to get the accommodations you need.
  • Close-up of hand with pills and glass of water
    2. Take your medication regularly to help keep symptoms under control.
    Some days, you’re up most of the night and sleep in till noon; other days, you’re up at the crack of dawn for work or sports practice. Your ever-changing schedule can make it hard to take your meds on a consistent schedule, but taking your medication every day, on a regular schedule, will control your symptoms far more effectively than taking your meds whenever you happen to remember them. If you have a hard time remembering to take your meds, set a timer on your phone. And never quit or adjust your medication without talking with your healthcare provider first.
  • Group of teenagers in car laughing
    3. Recognize that ADHD increases your risk of addiction and accidents.
    One of the main symptoms of ADHD is impulsivity. Research has shown that teens with ADHD are more likely to try drugs and develop substance use disorders than teens who do not have ADHD. Teens with ADHD are also at increased risk of car accidents and more likely to make risky sexual decisions, such as having sex without a condom. Taking your ADHD medication on a regular basis can minimize these risks. Teenagers who have untreated ADHD have twice as many motor vehicle accidents as teens with well-managed ADHD.
  • Young Muslim teenage girl with eyes closed looking stressed or with headache
    4. Ask your doctor if you might have a coexisting disorder, like depression.
    When you have ADHD, it’s easy to blame all your problems on that condition. But science has shown that two-thirds of people with ADHD have at least one other coexisting disorder, such as depression, anxiety, a sleep disorder, or a learning disability. If you continue to struggle despite treatment for ADHD, tell your healthcare provider. Ask if another condition might explain some of your symptoms. If so, proper diagnosis and treatment may make a world of difference in your life.
  • Teenage boy looking at smartphone while sitting on bed in his room
    5. Use apps, timers and planners to help you stay on track.
    Your phone can help you manage your ADHD. Use the timer to get yourself going when you have an assignment you just can’t seem to start. Set your timer for a reasonable time–15, 20 or 30 minutes–and dig in. Work until the timer goes off, then take time to do something fun. Set alarms to remind you of practices and work obligations. Use calendar reminders to track assignment deadlines, and break your project into smaller, achievable goals like “Choose topic” or “Find sources.” Finally, try using relaxation and mindfulness apps to help quiet your mind and find focus.
  • Diverse group of young college students on campus laughing together
    6. Prepare to handle your own ADHD treatment in college.
    If you’re planning to go to college, talk to the school disability office at each campus you visit. Ask what resources and accommodations are available for students with ADHD. Talk to your parents about how to schedule and manage your own doctor’s appointments, and learn what pharmacy services are available on or near your campus to fill prescriptions. Finally, if you’ve had learning tutors or other ADHD support in high school, consider continuing these in college and find out what resources are available at the school you choose.
  • Diverse young friends or roommates enjoying breakfast together at home
    7. Plan to keep managing your ADHD into adulthood.
    Approximately two-thirds of children who are diagnosed with ADHD continue to have symptoms into adulthood. Your ADHD probably won’t disappear when you finish high school or college; for most people, it’s a lifelong condition, like diabetes. And just as people with diabetes learn to manage their condition with medication and lifestyle changes, people with ADHD can manage their symptoms and live fulfilling, satisfying lives. Your treatment plan may change over time, so stay in touch with a healthcare provider who can help you manage your meds and point you toward new resources going forward.
ADHD in Teenagers | 7 Tips for Managing ADHD Symptoms in Teens

About The Author

Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse-turned-writer. She’s also the creator of BuildingBoys.net and co-creator/co-host of the podcast On Boys: Real Talk about Parenting, Teaching & Reaching Tomorrow’s Men. Most recently, she is the author ofThe First-Time Mom's Guide to Raising Boys: Practical Advice for Your Son's Formative Years.
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  3. Dealing with ADHD: What You Need to Know. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConReady to EditsumerUpdates/ucm269188.htm
  4. Overview. Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). https://chadd.org/about-adhd/overview/
  5. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder-Information-Page
  6. ADHD: Tips to Try. Nemours Foundation. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/adhd-tips.html
  7. College Students with ADHD. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/College-Students-with-ADHD-111.aspx
  8. Accommodation and Compliance: AD/HD. Job Accommodation Network, Office of Disability Employment Policy. https://askjan.org/disabilities/Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder-AD-HD.cfm
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Last Review Date: 2021 Mar 6
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