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Behavioral Exercises for ADHD Teens

by Darlena Cunha

Being the parent of a teen is difficult enough, and having a teenager with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder makes it that much harder. Many techniques, however, can be used to help a family cope with a teenager who has ADHD. Getting yourself on board is key, but getting your teen involved in concentration exercises, instruction in social skills, and extracurricular activities such as sports, art or music can help.

Parental Involvement

In order for behavioral exercises to be effective in teens, they must first be learned by parents so they can be reinforced in a positive manner. This is often accomplished by family therapy sessions, which is when a therapist will explain what needs to be done on your part. According to the National Resource Center on ADHD, “Parents need careful teaching and support to learn the new parenting skills and how to use them all the time.”

Concentration Exercises

Concentration exercises are relatively simple for those who do not suffer from ADHD, but can be difficult for teens with ADHD. Crossword puzzles, games such as Memory and Simon says, and activities such as positive imagery all help to improve neuroplasticity, which fosters the growth of new brain cells. Child psychologist Robert Myers, writing at Empoweringparents.com, adds that “As you do all of these 'brain exercises,' you should work together with your child serving as his or her coach.”

Instruction in Social Skills

Teens with ADHD often have a harder time fitting in because of their shorter attention spans, forgetfulness, issues with time and problems interpreting body language. Working at home and with a therapist to address these issues and help correct them can be beneficial. In addition, having your teen admit to friends and teachers that they suffer from ADHD can be therapeutic and helpful. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “Social skills training uses reinforcement strategies and rewards for appropriate behavior. Through this approach, teens learn to generalize behavior, that is, to apply one set of social rules to other situations.”

Involvement in Extracurricular Activities

Sports, art and music are a few activities that can help your ADHD teen. Sporting activities are beneficial because they provide the opportunity to learn self-discipline and expend energy. Art and music are activities that can be picked up and put down at will, while providing a creative outlet for not only energy, but feelings and frustrations, too. According to an excerpt at Familyeducation.com from the book, "Keys to Parenting a Child with Attention Deficit Disorders," “The sports they play, the hobbies they develop, the camps they attend all help to round out children, to make them more than merely persons who have difficulty paying attention in school. Although the term extracurricular suggests something that is beyond school, these activities are an integral part of the learning process.”

About the Author

Darlena Cunha has been a writer and editor since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Connecticut. Cunha is also completing her master's degree in mass communication.

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