Tips for managing risky behavior
- Quick tip 1Keep your cool.Keep your cool.
It’s going to happen — teens with ADHD will take risks and break rules. Do your best not to get angry or be overly critical. Try to keep the lines of communication open.
- Quick tip 2Don’t argue about the rules.Don’t argue about the rules.
If teens are rewriting history and saying “you never told me I couldn’t,” try not to argue with them. If you know the rules were clear, it’s OK to say nothing.
- Quick tip 3Help them see ways out of risky situations.Help them see ways out of risky situations.
Teens with ADHD may have trouble knowing how to get out of risky situations. Walk through the situation they’re facing and brainstorm safe, productive ways to move forward.
- Quick tip 4Explain the realities.Explain the realities.
Teens with ADHD can be overly optimistic, so explain the reality of situations they’re getting into. For example: Car accidents can happen close to home, so seat belts are a must even if you’re not driving far.
- Quick tip 5Address drug and alcohol use.Address drug and alcohol use.
Don’t downplay it. Teens with ADHD may use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate for mental health issues. And those who don’t take medication for their ADHD are at greater risk for substance abuse.
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.