ADHD son becoming increasingly lazy - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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ADHD son becoming increasingly lazy

AberdeenArms profile image
AberdeenArms

My 16yo son has ADHD. Unmedicated for most of the past year, but managing around it. He's reached the point in his life where he has to start considering going to college and start looking for a summer job. He's shown little interest in either one, though he insists he wants to go to college (just hasn't shown the effort to write personal essays or build a resume) and insists he intends to get a job (he's applied to one job in the past month).

He's obsessed with talking to his friends on the phone and hanging out with them on the weekend. These are activities we're happy to let him have, but as his parents we're not giving him extra spending money. Once he gets his driver's license, we intend to limit his time with the car until his college work gets done (he also has to prep for the SAT).

I'm hoping to get some tips on how to encourage him to start working on his future, both short-term and long. Help us help him beat being lazy!

8 Replies

Thanks for sharing your struggles with your son. A few thoughts, the first is most children who are diagnosised with ADHD function at about 2 years younger than there chronical age. So that means he is really like a 14 year old. A child at the age of 14 years old doesn't truly understand what is needed to "focus" and do well without tools to help them.

To us Neurotypical people we may see them not doing things and label it lazy, but really it is being unmodivated and this goes right to one of the reasons for medications which can help ( maybe he could have some underlying issue like anxiety and or depression).

I recommend him seeing a child psychiatrist to help you get him back on track.

Best of luck!

Thank you for your reply. He was on medication for years and has tried medication again recently and it had side effects that he doesn't want to deal with. He's managed to be mature in many other ways, so we're OK with him not taking a low dose of meds. He is seeing a therapist who has explained to him the process of natural consequences if he doesn't do things. It's pretty simple -- if he doesn't do the work that it takes to apply to college, he'll never get in. And if he never gets in, that's OK, but then he'll have to find a full-time job out of high school. There is no plan that ends with him lounging in his room every day unemployed as an adult.

If anyone else has any ideas on how to motivate him, please holler. Thank you.

Best of luck.

I agree with the above post - your son is functioning as a 14 year old in many ways and not as a "typical" 16 year old. I would not let him drive, especially unmedicated. Medication helps our kids with their focus and concentration, but it also provides some help with their poor impulse control , which is crucial for driving. I don't think most ADHD boys are ready to drive until age 18 and even then.....!! You may have to sit down with him and watch and help him navigate the on-line job applications. They are long and tedious - something ADHD kids avoid! Or prepare to take away privileges until the applications are finished. Motivating teens with ADHD can be hard - they want independence and freedom, but are not yet ready for either.

AberdeenArms profile image
AberdeenArms in reply to sceller

Incredible! Yesterday he applied to two online jobs, but I had to sit near him in order for him to finally get in front of the computer and do it. I did not help him fill it out unless he asked me (he asked me what some words meant, like "inventive"). But he did do it, he just needed a little (and I mean a little) hand-holding, which I was willing to do.

And I guess I'm one of the lucky ones -- my son has been driving unmedicated for nearly a year and maybe once he's come close to an accident. He pays great attention, doesn't speed, doesn't text and drive, etc. I hope it stays this way because he's set to get his license real soon.

My 18 yr old got his first job because mom applied for him! My son has ADD and struggles with severe executive functioning weaknesses and has no motivation so I stopped nagging him. When I need him to complete a task, I simply serve myself a glass of wine and sit next to him until he completes a task (homework, cleaning room, laundry, etc). Contact the school guidance counselor and if he has an IEP or 504 plan, they will work with him 1 on 1 to get his college application and resume done.

When I graduated from HS my mom had to guide me through every step of college applications. I don't think I could have done it without her. It was the same with jobs until I was in college.

There’s a name for what all these folks are recommending—it’s called a chore helper. Many of us ADHD folks are much more successful at finishing boring and/or tedious tasks if there’s someone nearby to keep us company and occasionally cheer us along.

Also, short term (basically immediate) rewards are usually much more motivating than negative consequences. I’d try an updated, teen friendly version of a sticker chart. Sit down together and make a list of tasks he needs to complete as well as some rewards he can earn for completing each task on time (such as a certain number of points to earn car privileges or whatever will really motivate him) and then ask him what you can do to help him stay on track (ie a daily check in at a certain time followed by a check to see whether the task was completed on time)... He needs extra support with setting and attaining goals—a classic struggle for those of us with ADHD.

And maybe there’s even another adult who can be his “chore buddy” or help with the goal planning etc because sometimes kids/teens/all of us respond better to non-parents (or the other parent).

Y’all can do this together!

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