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Risky behavior in teens with ADHD: How to help

By Understood Team

Teens with ADHD are more likely to take risks and act impulsively than other kids. They often struggle to resist temptations and think through consequences. And they may have a hard time getting themselves out of tricky or dangerous situations.

That doesn’t mean, though, that they can’t develop tools and strategies for making better, safer choices. They just may need more practice thinking through consequences and coming up with different ways to approach situations.

Keep in mind that low self-esteem can drive risky behavior. Encourage teens to reflect on their strengths instead of dwelling on their challenges. Having a mentor can make a big difference, too.

Dive deeper

Why teens with ADHD take more risks

ADHD is a problem with executive function . This is a group of mental skills (like self-control and flexible thinking) that people rely on to make good decisions and then act on them.

Another factor is mental health issues. Anxiety and depression often occur with ADHD. These conditions may also increase the likelihood of risky behavior and poor judgment. Anxiety can increase hyperactivity or restlessness in teens . Depression can make teens feel hopeless about the future and act out. 

Learn more about why teens with ADHD take more risks .

A major risk: ADHD medication abuse

Teens with ADHD may face peer pressure to sell or give out their ADHD stimulant medications. It’s important to make them aware of the risks of giving their medication to other kids, or misusing medication personally.

Read more about ADHD medication misuse and abuse .

Next steps

Teens with ADHD may not be cautious in the moment. So it’s important to talk about ways to be safe in advance.

For example, talk about using protection if they’re sexually active. And be open about the consequences of not taking precautions. Get tips on how to help teens with ADHD navigate dating .

If you know a teen with ADHD who’s taking risks and lying about it, find out how to respond .

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  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom