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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Risky Behavior and Teens With ADHD

Risky Behavior: Blowing Off Important Commitments continued...

What you can do:Try to understand that it’s the disorder, not your child’s defiance or stubbornness, that’s causing this. When you can, try to make tasks into a game or competition.

Rewarding him for completing tasks may increase his desire to follow through in the future. And don’t yell or scold, Belford says.

“It won’t bring results. You’re better off supporting your teen regardless of behavior,” he says.

Also, make sure your teen feels supported at school. Teens who feel overwhelmed by school are more likely to act impulsively.

Risky Behavior: Arguing and Causing Fights

Many kids with ADHD are prone to losing their tempers and arguing with others. They may get in physical fights, too, which can cause them to get injured or hurt someone else. They might do things that start a fight, like deliberately annoying their friends or people around them. That’s why they’re almost three times more likely to have problems with peers compared to kids without ADHD.

What you can do:A psychologist or therapist who specializes in ADHD can help your teen learn ways to keep healthy friendships and have positive interactions with others. You can find ADHD specialists by state at

At home, put a priority on relationships rather than little battles, Belford says.

“Try to stay loving and supportive, and show your child you’re there for him even when he’s having a tough time,” he says.

Risky Behavior: Abusing Alcohol or Drugs

Kids with ADHD are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. They tend to become addicted faster, too. That doesn’t mean it’ll happen no matter what you do, or that you should just “accept” that your child will sneak behind your back.

What you can do: Talk to your teen -- a lot. In addition to regular conversations, ask him about what he’s doing when he goes out. Discuss how he feels about social situations, too.

“It helps to approach the conversation from a curious point of view,” Belford says.

For example, say, “So, you’re going to a party. Are people going to drink? What will you do if someone offers you a drink?”

And encourage you teen to get regular exercise. “It raises levels of some of the brain chemicals that are lower in individuals with ADHD, and that can make risky behaviors less tempting,” Sarkis says.

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Reviewed on April 22, 2015

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