By Sam Goldstein, Ph.D.
Despite the popular belief that Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) may offer affected individuals some benefit, most of the current research suggests that the vulnerability created by inattentive, impulsive, and hyperactive symptoms leads teenagers with AD/HD toward high-risk behaviors. As I explained in an earlier article, the problem is not that these teenagers do not understand the risks associated with driving, sexual activity, substance use and abuse, and school failure, but rather that the impairments caused by AD/HD make it difficult for them to do what they know is best.
In this article, I will describe how the quality of resilience in a teenager can steer him toward success. I will also explain how you can develop the knowledge and mindset necessary to raise a teenager with AD/HD. Finally, I will present strategies to reduce high-risk behavior in your teenager with AD/HD.
Ultimately the life course for any human being is affected by varied and multiple factors. Having AD/HD is but one. It is not the severity of symptoms and problems related to AD/HD or even how well treatment helps a teen function that best predicts his outcome. Rather, the greatest predictor of his future life success is how resilient he is in dealing with life. A growing body of literature has demonstrated that a number of childhood variables can be used to predict, in a general way, risk of later life problems as well as identifying insulating and protective factors that reduce risk and increase the chances of a satisfactory transition into adult life. Researchers studying teenagers with AD/HD are beginning to examine these protective factors. These thoughts, feeling, and behaviors fall under the umbrella of resilience.
A resilient teenager is able to:
Resilience provides part of the explanation as to why some teenagers with AD/HD are "victims"of their condition while others overcome overwhelming obstacles. As a parent, there is much you can do - through support, empathy, and nurturance - to help your teen develop resilience.
As a parent, you must begin by accepting the adverse consequences of AD/HD and being alert and observant to your teenager's emotions and behavior. Here are some steps to help you develop such a mindset:
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