Teen son struggling with ADHD - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

CHADD's ADHD Parents Together

14,167 members4,491 posts

Teen son struggling with ADHD

trwheeler profile image

It is such a relief to find a place to talk to people about what my son has been struggling with for years. He is 15 years old and has just finished his first quarter of his freshman year in high school. He barely got by with all Cs and one B. His teachers e-mail me regularly about him - missing assignments, seeming disinterested, etc. He is on medication and I just recently found a coach in our area that helps teens with executive function strategies. I worry sick about him and cry a lot, because I feel like no one understands what I am going through. I always feel like teachers and other adults think I am not a good parent (maybe...I'm not :-(). I just want the best for my son, who I know is an intelligent person and an amazing boy. I watch him and feel like he struggles internally. I know he wants to please, but I don't think he knows how. It feels good just to talk about it with others who might understand. Thanks for listening.

46 Replies


I have been where you are and in fact wrote an ebook about it and became a parenting coach/consultant for parents of teens with ADHD because of it!

You can find my book on Amazon: "Parenting teens with ADHD: practical parenting and mindset strategies that will take you from chaos to calm," and my website (where I share lots of free info and resources as well as offer 1 to 1 help) is parentcoachjoyce.com.

I wish you all the best!

Joyce Mabe

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to

Thank you, Joyce! I am going to check your website out.

I feel the same. Trust me your son is doing very well. Never blame yourself. Somethings we can not control. And you never know what tomorrow brings. Our kids will be stronger individuals and they will grow up at some point and will be able to understand. I wish you the best ...

You're definitely not alone, I have 15 yr old son and feel the EXACT way!!! Some days I see him progress with social things or school and I'm overjoyed but it's slow progression/baby steps.

Is he open to seeing someone to help? That is awesome!!! That is a huge step!

Thank you! He fights me about seeing someone. We just recently signed up with an ADHD coach in our area that is going to try to help him with executive function skills. My biggest problem right now, though, is his grades and acting out to be funny in class in front of his peers. I get e-mails from teachers all the time.

Me too!

My 13 year old son has ADHD and sounds similar to your son. The Executive Skills therapy has helped my son. When I have a conversation with my son I’m so impressed with how intelligent he is. Yet his grade aren’t a reflection of his intelligence . His handwriting is barely legible. I know it’s frustrating trying to help your child to do their best to succeed . Your concerned, your getting him help and your reaching out to others . I think that makes you a wonder and caring parent. Good luck and stay strong .

This sounds like my 13 year life son too. His words are beyond hurtful, he is angry and so down on himself.

ROSE_2005 profile image
ROSE_2005 in reply to trwheeler

I also go through this with my 13yo son. You're not alone and you're not a bad parent. I also feel that way sometimes and remember you also have to take care of yourself and find time to enjoy the things that make you happy. It helps with stressful situations.

I have a 12 year old and feel the exact same way. You are not alone!! There are an army of us out there. Hang in there. It’s tough.

I feel the exact same way with my 10 yr old! Some days are good and some are bad..on those bad days I cry myself to sleep with the same worries. You are not alone!!! (Im worried how he is going to do middle school next year..yikes!)

how do you help your son socially? i cry because he has no friends. i have a couple of activities for him each week. sometimes i feel bad for him he loves having fun with kids his but his behavior sometimes puts them off

My son struggles immensely in his social life. He does have a couple friends, but sometimes they disappear for a while and my kid is labeled as a jerk. Which he really is- most of the time!! I think our kids get frustrated when they aren't sizing up to their peers, so they kind of lash out at them from time to time. My son has been in both positions as the bully and being bullied because he can't do some of the executive functioning skills that his friends can. It really is sad. We as parents want to fix it for them, but sadly there is no fix. All we can do is educate ourselves on how to parent them when the face these daily struggles.

Lindsay- how old is your son? My son is 15 and has no friends to speak of. He is in his second year of high school and has never been invited socially to do anything with a ‘friend.’ It kills me to see him excluded from everything. I’m looking for help on this site with ideas to get him help in this area.

Nokilissa profile image
Nokilissa in reply to TessaBoo

We're trying Boy Scouts and a social skills group. I'm hoping it helps. He seems to be enjoying Scouts, has now had 3 meetings and is thinking about joining a winter camping trip!

I continue to be frustrated by the lack of knowledge and even lack of desire to understand the disorder within school systems. When it comes to brain disorders, people that don't have kids with the disorder tend to dismiss it. There's a ton of bad information, conspiracy theories, and opinions not backed by science and this is clouding the issue and confusing people. Other parents and teachers that smugly declare that "it's poor parenting" are either too lazy or too stupid to do the research. Don't respect their views until they back it with scientific evidence.

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to Mmagusin

I am very frustrated as well. I am dealing with e-mails from teachers every day who think he is a bad kid. It is hard to read the e-mails, and it feels overwhelming at times. I don't endorse what he is doing - trying to get attention and be funny in class - but it is like the teachers have just given up on him. It makes me want to cry.

Jnewengland profile image
Jnewengland in reply to Mmagusin

Totally agree, teachers are not educated regarding ADHD and ADD and the aren't listening, at least in my area. My son has ADD or ADHD inattentive, so I don't get complaints about disruptive behavior but he doesn't talk much to teachers or kids that aren't his friends in class. So he slips throw the cracks and at teacher conference EVERY TIME EVERY YEAR all I hear is how quiet my son is.

Kmclean profile image
Kmclean in reply to Jnewengland

This is our son. Adhd inattentive. Has frustration and anger issues. Is your son on meds? Which one?

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to Kmclean

My son is on Quillivant XR. We are still working on getting the proper dose for him. Just getting him to take something has been a struggle.

I have a almost 13year old grandson who has a lot of the same problems. He also has trouble making friends and I think making people laugh makes him feel like he is connecting although it drives the teachers crazy.

B's and C's sound good to me. At least he is passing. I regularly email his teachers. He often goes for tutorials before school where he works much better one on one with the teachers. Sometimes just the regular noise of a classroom fulI of kids is distracting for him. I must say the teachers have been great about helping him with this.

OMG! My 13 year old has the same problems. I wish there were get togethers where us parents could meet and talk about things. I have ups and downs. Right now I am down because my son is failing 3 classes and doesn't seem to care. Besides dealing with ADHD, being below level in reading, his dad (my husband) is deployed with the Air Force. I am worn out! We both just need to put our heads down and move forward. We, along with out kids, will make it.

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to AnnIrene

I totally agree. I wish I could meet more often in person with people that were going through the same thing. I have found this group to be really helpful, though. It is nice just to talk to people who understand what you are going through. My son is not failing, but he regularly doesn't care about schoolwork. It is a struggle. That must be incredibly hard with his dad deployed. I can't even imagine. We just need to support each other and keep doing the best we can for our kids. I refuse to give up on my son...even on my worst days.

Mag136 profile image
Mag136 in reply to AnnIrene

My son too below grade level reading, special needs brother and father unemployed z in addition his younger brother is very successful and organized. I️ am cryingmyself tonsleep.

AnnIrene profile image
AnnIrene in reply to Mag136

We are always taking care of everyone else. We all need to take care of our selves too. Sometimes we forget that. Keep your head up.

First of all, I would insist on a 504 plan, at the very least. An IEP would be even better because schools seem to take this more seriously. I would also see if you can speak with his teachers about decreasing homework, checking for assignments, etc. It's been my experience that I had to advocate for my son all through high school because the school did not seem to care if he was there or not. You might also have to be content with C's and not insist on the A's, even if you're certain he can do better. The medication will help, but sometimes has to adjusted on a regular basis.

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to seller

Thank you so much for your response. I am working on getting a 504 in place for him now. I think it is going to take a month to get that going, though. I have e-mailed all of his teachers, and a couple of them have agreed to work with me on assignments, etc. so that is encouraging. I definitely am having to get heavily involved. Talked to his guidance counselor on Friday, and she seemed completely disengaged from my concerns and acted like the freshman year was "just hard for kids". I am trying to alter my expectations. I know he is capable of so much more but until I can get things more stabilized, I think this is all I can ask for. He is on Quillivant, but I feel like it is not working at all. The feedback I am getting from a few of his teachers leads me to believe it is off. I have an appointment with the dr who prescribes the medication this week and hope to see what I can do there.

It has been exhausting and hard to help my son. It definitely feels most times like we are alone on an island. But, I refuse to let his ship sink.

You could be talking about my 15 year old son. He has already had one suspension and two detentions this year and is flunking algebra. I am a social worker so I feel I should know how to help... not with this one! How did you find a coach? I am thinking of going to his case worker at school and asking for some more accommodations in certain classes, such as shorter tests in Algebra... I am very scared and concerned for his future as his memory and executive functioning skills are very affected by his Adhd

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to Bennettdd

My son is also doing very poorly in Algebra. So far, he has been able to maintain a very low C but a lot of Fs on tests. Right now, I have him a tutor to try to help. So far, it hasn't done much good, but I am sticking with it. I have also had a meeting with a guidance counselor and started the process to get 504 accommodations.

I found a coach because I was searching on Google for "best ADHD counselor" in my area. A bunch of links came up but then I cross-referenced some of the names with people on the CHADD website. I was looking for a counselor/coach for executive functioning more than just a resource for diagnosis and medication. You should try the CHADD website. There is a lot of really good information and resources out there.

I also just recently increased my son's medication slightly.

Bottom line: I am doing everything I can as a mom to help put things in place to help my son, but as I have been watching, I realize a good part of the success here will depend on my son stepping up and accepting responsibility for some of his success. I am waiting for it to "click" and hope it does. The coach assures me it will happen at some point but it may take longer. I have also been told it may not be a bad thing for him to "fail", as it will help him to understand the consequences. That is a very hard thing to do as a parent when you understand the ramifications of their decisions. However, I am starting to buy into that approach.

I hope this helps. Always happy to share my experiences. I still struggle every day, so hearing from other parents is always helpful!

As an adult with ADHD who works in education I want to point out that your son is getting respectable grades. Cs and Bs are good. I got Ds to Bs in high school regularly because the pacing of the material and the way it was taught was just so uninteresting to me that I learned to simply pass with a minimum grade. However when I got to community college the way those classes were taught made it easy to excel with mostly As and Bs.

Seeing the material that is currently being taught in high school, as well as how it is being taught, I can say with certainty that the repetition and focus on discipline in the class would be maddening to me. I'd probably be in the same situation as before if I were to do it again now.

I guess what I'm trying to illustrate is that your son is doing well enough. Yeah, he could probably do better but A's and B's are, statistically, not for everyone. A grade is not a measure of ability, intelligence, or temperament. It is simply a grade. You should both be proud of this high C-average which - if maintained - will lead to easy graduation. I truly believe that at this age it is more important that he learn how to grow up to be the sort of adult he wants to be. That has nothing to do with a grade.

If he decides to pursue college he can go to community college where he can learn what that pace is like, save some money piling up credits, and explore some academic areas which might now feel off limits without much risk. How he operates as a student now only shows how he reacts to high school.

I realize that this is not the advice you were expecting. There is always the route of struggling more to struggle less but I really do advise that this be applied more to life management in general than to grades specifically. Having said that, learning to take good notes, be organized, keep and maintain a calendar...basic life maintenance skills can be applied to studying and improving grades if the motivation is there. But I also believe that motivation comes from more than just knowing what work needs to be done. If the work feels unreasonable or like busy work I can't in good faith tell a student with those grades that they are doing anything wrong with their GPA. Excel where he wants to and can, otherwise just try to make the most out of the other stuff while keeping an eye on having the grades not dip lower.

I'm not saying this is the only option, but its an option. And one that kept me relatively sane getting through what I saw as the absurdity of high school.

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to danqatsi

Thank you very much for responding. I appreciate your insight.

ladysoc profile image
ladysoc in reply to danqatsi

Thank you for sharing your story! My 15 y/o son wants to drop out of high school at age 16 (in just a few months!). He's bright (IQ tested in 120's) but not interested in homework or studying, though he participates in class discussions. I am hoping to get him to the point where he "clicks" to realize that to be successful in life, he needs to graduate; then, I will worry about college (I also realize college is not for everyone and it may not be the correct path for my son).

katejames profile image
katejames in reply to danqatsi

That was really insightful and helpful to me as a parent. I have a 12 year old son. He takes Vyvance and does great in school after we upped his meds a little last year - otherwise it was 4 hours of homework to get one worksheet done and lots of crying and frustration. Now, no homework hardly at all. But I worry so much about puberty and hormone changes and what is around the corner. Socially, he doesn't have friends and that I saw as crucial to my two older children in middle and high school. I worry his social issues will impact his schoolwork. But he's very bright even though some simple things like the day of the week he can't remember. I agree that grades are not the end all and be all. I come from a very large family as does my husband and have seen adult success take a lot of different routes and they were never determined by good grades in high school. So thank you. I needed to hear what you had to say.

1V2B profile image
1V2B in reply to danqatsi

Thanks for these words. I needed that reminder. I also have a very intelligent 17 year old son who is a rising senior. I used to have very high expectations of him. Hes so smart! He tested into the gifted and talented program in elementary school and sailed through the early middle school years as a high achiever. So I thought it was just a cute joke when his teachers lovingly nicknamed as their "absent-minded professor". I really thought my son would continue with straight As and other awards and eventually be accepted to college with scholarships. Well, when he reached his last year in middle school his grades plummeted, and his ADHD symptoms became severely problematic. I implemented every medical and behavioral treatment within my reach. But nothing helped. I even went into boxes and got his old morning routine, etc. charts that i used when he was in elementary. I brought out chore charts, set up home work staions, sought executive coaching, medication, etc. Nothing as helped him return to that high achieving academic status. He just finished his junior year with a 2.88 gpa. So thanks for the reminder that its ok!. He is moving into his senior year, and has Never been in any Real trouble. So thanks for the reminder that its ok to lower expectations in certain areas of life. While I still have great faith that my son will eventually be successful in his chosen career; for now my focus is to help him to keep developing the necessary skills for life, and continue being a caring, kind, ethical young man. He maintains a high C avaerage in school, and as you have reminded me - I should be proud! Raising an ADHD boy alone has been my greatest life challege. Although i remember crying so much over the past 17 years; reasitically, ive probably laughed more.

Next step- search for a great community college.


kaf2022 profile image
kaf2022 in reply to 1V2B

Your post was a year ago - but it sounds exactly like my 16 year old son! And your efforts sound very familiar. Wondering how your son did senior year? Any new revelations? Was he ever on any medication?

1V2B profile image
1V2B in reply to kaf2022

He graduated. I am grateful. But the last year has been absolutely terrible; filled with so much heartbreaking issues and poor decisions.

Nevertheless, he is enrolled in community college; and I have 'Let Go'. I reached my point of exhaustion, and I realized it is because my job of being his 'mom manager' is over. I am always available if he needs me, and continue to support him as a college student. But now he will learn by consequence, which I find is his best teacher.

I have peace knowing that I did absolutely Everything that I was supposed to do as his fulltime dedicated mom for 18 years. Now, I am focusing on bringing some of my long-delayed dreams to fruition.

God Bless!

Mich69 profile image
Mich69 in reply to danqatsi

Even though this is an old post, it's very helpful to hear this sort of information. I was a student that was obedient and always did the work, but I can understand our children's lack of motivation to busy type work.


Your son sounds so much like mine, and you sound so much like me, I just had to write because I'm sitting here in tears. My 14 year-old son was just diagnosed with ADHD and Major Depressive Disorder today after a long evaluation process through a local children's hospital. I just got off of the phone, leaving messages with his doctor for a prescription, and insurance to find out what they might help cover. Feeling overwhelmed, but also relieved... and crying a lot. I just wanted to say hi, and you're definitely not alone. Thank you for sharing.

trwheeler profile image
trwheeler in reply to Nokilissa

Hang in there. As my son's coach told me, it is a marathon...not a sprint. Some days are good days and some days are terrible. Take one day at a time and be nice to yourself. Also, for the medicine, I know for us...even with insurance...the cost of meds each month was extremely expensive. We were able to find a discount card on the drug company's website that helped us save quite a bit of money. Good luck on your journey.

Hi there:

I will second your emotion regarding the relief of finding this community. I too am caring for a 15 year old young man (my grandson) who has been diagnosed with ADD and is struggling at school. Heartbreaking. I look forward to checking out Joyce's site. I have found that sharing our burden with others who understand and do not judge is immensely rewarding.

Regarding medication, I echo the comment of other contributors who have noticed huge changes in the personality of their kids. I look forward to hearing of possible alternatives to medicating the joy out of our beautiful children.



Hey everyone:

MJ from Canada here. I'm so happy and relieved to have found this site. Since September I am caring for my 15 year old grandson full-time. He has been diagnosed with ADD and is prescribed 90mg of Concerta daily. He takes his meds Monday to Friday becoming almost zombie-like and non-communicative. His symptoms resemble depression and he has self-harmed. Weekends are another ball of wax: impulsivity, bouncing off the walls, immaturity and an inability to focus or study. Jekell and Hyde!

I'm just beginning to wrap my head around the diagnosis and how pervasive it is. I intend to learn as much as I can about ADD and welcome your input.

With respect to technology, are others seeing their kids totally immersed in their phones 24/7? With his earbuds in and his focus totally on that little screen, I feel like I am still living alone. Is this typical teen or typical ADD behavior?



I am also a parent of a 17 year old who has been struggling with ADHD for years. His grades in school are good but its the basic stuff. Just know that you are not alone.

Oh boy, here I am. I'm a father of two who's struggling with ADHD myself but trying to help me two teens. Talk about struggling and keeping my head a float. I felt a truck hit me full on after my kids turned to teens with ADHD.

My son is 15 and just diagnosed in January. He is exactly the same. The last two weeks we have been doing probably 5 assignment per class that he had not handed in or was completed but didn’t hand in. He is sitting at d and c’s in his classes. He has potential as when he completes an assignment he gets 9/10 ect. It is frustrating.i want what his best for him and to enjoy his high school years but the struggle is there. He tries so hard but will end up suspended or in trouble for distraction in the classroom. Some days are amazing and other days like yesterday are not. He just started medication and I am hoping it is up hill from here. Good luck and believe me your not alone in this struggle.

Reaching out to you that you are not alone. A few days ago I felt I was but now joining I see that there are so many of us out there. Especially experiencing this with a teenager . In my community it's not a subject that people openly talk about . My son is 14, class clown struggling also with grades.

Can you tell me about the coach you found? How did you find one?

Also, you are a great mom being your child's advocate which is mentally exhausting. God bless

You may also like...