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Steven Richfield provides articles on many different aspects of raising a child
month we our advocate will be answering questions from our visitors about yours
and your children's rights in the educational system.
A mother is trying to help her teenage son learn anger management.
Five great ideas for motivation, including The Shoe Race, Trading Places
Organize your child at home, and maybe find some tips that will help you
IN THE NEWS
Headlines about ADHD, Learning Disability and Mental Disorders
Study on ADD and TV
The recent study published on watching television between the ages of one and
three and the possible link to ADD/ADHD did not take many considerations into
account. The author of the study even admits that he cannot conclude that
television watching and ADD/ADHD are linked.
Parent Coach Archives
The Barriers Between Generations
Parent Coach: Removing The Barriers Between Generations
"How can I stay connected to my teenager? The last thing he
wants to do is to talk to me. Especially in today's world, I'm worried
that we're growing too far apart."
Keeping the doors of communication open with an adolescent is tricky for
most parents. This transitional time between childhood and adulthood
tends to place barriers between generations. Among other things, parents
must set limits, request information, and supervise activities. Our
intention is to guide and stay informed. Yet, often the effect upon our
teen is that they feel policed and intruded upon. What's a parent to do?
I offer a few pointers that pave the way to a smoother and more open
Control your own reactions to unwelcome news. The quickest way to shut
down communication channels with a teenager is to become harsh, blaming,
and close-minded. Once we adopt an adversarial stance we trigger the
same in our teen. A better rule-of-thumb is to remind yourself that to
stay connected we must ensure that they view us as on their side even
when we disapprove or feel disappointed in them. To protect the bond, I
suggest that parents position themselves as coaches who review events,
identify problem sources, and discuss strategies to prevent future
Use bridge-building language. Teens are extremely sensitive to being
lectured and "talked-down-to." Once they feel demeaned they
may strike back with words that turn discussions into verbal
battlefields. Parents can help keep communication free of conflict by
using non-judgmental and bridge-building language. Expressions such as
"let's try to figure out why this happened" or "maybe you
have some ideas about how to solve this one" support the teen's
self-esteem and communicate a parent's respect for their perspective.
Parents are wise to avoid the typical traps that erode communication:
jumping to conclusions, dragging up past problems, and predicting future
Take advantage of connecting opportunities. As much as teens crave their
privacy they remain dependent upon us for many wants and needs,
including our approval and involvement. Pathways for connecting often
present themselves to parents who keep their eyes and ears open to these
opportunities. The currents of teenage life, such as peculiar music,
racy television shows, and suggestive humor, are often staring us in the
face. Next time, consider taking some time to stop, look, listen, and
yes, even enjoy.
Pay careful attention to timing. Teens may be moody and sometimes
unpredictable but observant parents can determine when it's best to
introduce difficult issues for discussion.
In many cases, timing is everything. Try to pick up on the signals
suggesting that the doors to interaction are open or closed, such as
their expression, tone of voice, and the present circumstances. If
you're not sure, ask. Questions such as, "Is this a good time to
talk about...?" communicates your understanding of their feelings
and preferences. The result may be a more open and productive dialogue.
Dr. Steven Richfield is a child psychologist in Plymouth Meeting, PA. His
column appears monthly. He can be contacted at 610-238-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org