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ADHD in Children Health Center

Teens, ADHD, and Risky Behavior

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The Allure of Risk continued...

Peer pressure, in good relationships, can help. Since teens value their friends' opinions, DeAntonio tells teens with ADHD: "Listen when your peers say, ‘You really scare me. You do things that you shouldn't be doing.'"

As teens grow into their 20s, a serious relationship can have a calming effect, Meyer says. For example, if a young woman tells her boyfriend who has ADHD that she doesn't like his high-risk activities, Meyers says, "It can quiet them down... They want to behave a little bit better, and to hear it from a girlfriend has more of an impact."

Dangerous Sports

Some sports can cause serious injuries, so DeAntonio emphasizes safety gear, such as helmets, for biking and skateboarding. Parents should also insist on protective gear, he says, or tell their child, "Otherwise, you can't do it."

He also warns teens against taking part in risky sports alone. Parents should be alert to such hazardous situations, for example, if your teen says, "I'm going out rock-climbing by myself," DeAntonio says. Rock-climbing -- maybe. On your own, where there's no one to help you if things go wrong? No.

You might not have to ban an activity. You might just need to redirect your teen -- for example, to a team sport where there's supervision, he says.

Driving

Teens with ADHD are two to four times more likely to have traffic accidents and three times more likely to get injured than teens without the disorder, according to the organization Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD). 

Teens with ADHD can still learn to drive, but again, parents should approach it with greater caution and make sure their teen is taking ADHD medication as directed whenever they're behind the wheel.

"Usually, most [teens] can drive fine," DeAntonio says. "But again, you're more concerned about issues of texting or using cell phones, about other people in the car distracting them, about drug and alcohol use while driving that will affect their impulsivity even more. I think the rules for driving are no different than for any other kid, but I think you have to be more thoughtful and be more specific with a kid with ADD to make sure they're following the rules."

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