The journey through adolescence into adulthood is a time of significant physical, psychological and social change not only for a Teen or Tween but for the whole family. This journey is not unique to children with ADHD it affects all children.
When children with ADHD reach puberty stages of their development is not physically different than kids who don’t have ADHD. However, the emotional changes that come with it can cause upheaval for these ADHD children. Hormonal changes in most Teens and Tweens can cause an escalation of symptoms. These fluctuating hormone levels can lead to mood swings, impulsivity, and trouble with concentration. Unfortunately, for Teens and Tweens with ADHD this transition can be further complicated because of their ADHD.
Dealing with these bodily and emotional changes can play havoc with management of their
ADHD. Raging hormones can create intense physical and psychological changes for children with ADHD. Many who cooperated in primary school by taking medication can rebel and protest in their teens.
Children can often be rejected by friends and be considered “immature’ or just simply too annoying to hang out with. Puberty can be an exhausting time in a Tween or Teens life and brings about new challenges and pressures on parents and carers. ADHD children may become a target for humiliation or bullying which can often affect their self-confidence and self-esteem. Moving on from primary school or moving up to higher years can cause intense pressure and stresses. More than ever this age group of children don’t want to be singled out.
This is a time when a Tween or Teen can try to create friendships in negative ways and engaging in risky behaviour like drinking alcohol, drugs and eager to gain acceptance in circles that may lead to acts of crime. They can become lost in the system between child and adult mental health systems. They are at a much higher risk of becoming disengaged and many do not transition well. At this crucial developmental stage in a Teens or Tweens successful transition towards independence requires transitional planning across education, employment, health, etc.
Keeping lines of communication open with Teens and Tweens is paramount to supporting and encouraging them to discuss friendship and relationship difficulties. Developmentally, Teens and Tweens are expected to be able to handle more autonomy: less structure in their school environment, family and less teacher and parental oversight. At a time when a Teen or Tween is fighting for independence and freedom to make choices, they need more support and communication to understand issues that they are facing. Teenage years can been an emotional rollercoaster for all children, but those with ADHD are prone to poor emotional regulation, which can often result in greater highs and lows. Their emotional impulsivity can make it especially difficult for them to cope with frustration which can create family difficulties..
The team at ADHD Foundation recognise that this time can be extremely difficult for families and are currently prioritising support for parents and carers of Tweens and Teens. Your “smart but scattered teen or tween” will generally react favourable to positive reinforcement as they grow towards independence and management their executive skills better. We will be providing various information platforms of support for parents, carers and organisations involved in services for this age group. We have selected the links below as a guide to supporting your child at this growth stage of their lives.