Adhd teen and sports: Hi! My 14 yr old... - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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Adhd teen and sports

maybeck profile image

Hi! My 14 yr old son is not interested in anything. Throughout elementary school he played soccer, lacrosse, basketball, flag football, marital arts but in middle school he lost all interest in sports and took up music. Well now he is no longer interested in music. I know its common for Adhd kiddos to lose interest in activities and not follow through. My concern is that he is at a new High school as a freshman, doesnt know anyone, and I really believe playing a sport will help him meet peers/be part of a team community and all the incredible benefits that exercise offers adhd teens! He refuses. Hes afraid of competition and the intensity of high school sports, but he does want to meet friends. There are no clubs offered (its a brand new HS, no clubs yet) and I dont want him coming home from school to go on screens...he feels disconnected and really needs something that interests him, but he is unable to identify what. I dont want to be a nag, otherwise it'll turn into a powerstruggle. Any suggestions as to how I can help him explore something new when hes not interested in anything? TIA for any thoughts and wisdom :)

7 Replies

In our town, high school sports are very competitive., so I’m not surprised at that attitude. Would he be interested in a rec league or just playing for fun at the local gym or park? If group sports are no longer his thing, See if he’ll do a drop in martial arts class, art class or swimming. Most places will let you try a week for free. If he has an interest outside of school, it’ll likely carryover and he’ll have something to talk about with his classmates.

Hi Maybeck,I feel your pain. I also have a 14 year old son in 9th grade and he also not having the easiest time. Socially he has a solid friend group but is resistant to trying out for teams and attending any clubs he previously expressed interest in. I have been so frustrated by this and it has caused many loud “discussions” in our house.

In the end I will say that I don’t think it is a great idea to push him hard on activities like this. I think it just creates more anxiety for him and resentment towards you. Maybe start a little smaller. Start asking him if he has connected with any kids at school yet. Is there one kid that he has talked with that he likes and maybe encourage him to connect with him/her/they further. One friend usually leads to more friends which can hopefully lead to participating in sports/activities if he knows others that are involved.

I wouldn’t sweat this year so much as it is such a mentally tough transition to start high school which is only made more difficult when you don’t know anyone. Not to mention hormonal changes at this age which only make our kids with ADHD have an enhanced variety of adolescent issues.

I’m a psychotherapist and struggle with all of this everyday so you are not alone!

I would also suggest you offer him therapy like CBT if that is an option available to your family.. Usually much easier for teens to talk to talk to a non-parent.

Hope this helps.. Feel free to reach out if you need additional support!

My 16 year old grandson is a junior.. He was in band freshman year but it took up so much of his time he started failing classes. He is in a high pressure collegiate program so homework takes a lot of time. He also refuses to join anything and says he's happy the way he is. He has always dealt with a lot of social anxiety so that is probably part of the problem. But since hes doing well in school we're not pushing the issue.

I hear you. The activities my 16yo daughter used to be involved with started dropping away in middle school - Girl Scouts, soccer, volunteering, church camp. Now she’s in nothing and wants to be in nothing. What little interest she shows in something wanes within a day or week (guitar, art). Friends are all online.

Is your son an introvert? Does he seem happy or discontent? The reason I ask is that we sometimes have to parent outside the box. Introverted kids don’t need a lot of outside stimulation — in fact it depletes them.

With all that said I recommend keeping him close. Meaning, when the moment is right, ask questions about what he is doing —- get involved with his world and he’ll open up to you more. That will help you guide him. Maybe he decided that he hates organized sports. Maybe he would rather play racket ball at a gym? Something less scheduled? Guitar lessons just on his own for pure enjoyment? Maybe you can help him find a low pressure hobby and friendships will grow from that.

Don’t be hard on yourself. You care. That is already established. Do your best to honor who he is. It’s not easy but you’re among kindred spirits on this board.

Don't focus on school sports or any sports right no or even what used to be.Pay attention to the here and now and make use of it. This will take some time. Be patient.

In the meantime...find him smaller "mini-passions" without overdoing it or having it interfere with school or homework...even if it's only temporary.

Watch Jeopardy, Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune or any 'thinking type' gameshow and try to answer questions together.

Cook or bake something together from a recipe.

Play Monopoly, Yahtzee, Scrabble or Apples to Apples (the real board games, not online).

Buy a cornhole game, horseshoes or Spikeball for the backyard and get him out there to play something, anything. Buy dominoes and set up a domino fall.

Make a game out of a paper crumpled up ball to try to make a shot into a cup. Literally anything can become competitive or build confidence without him being aware of his desire to join in.

Just don't try to imagine that you're planning his future...just enjoy the moment and take advantage of the time you have with your child at this age - or any age.

Being active and social with your own family is a jumpstart to being active and social with others.

Over the past few years when I felt my son (who is also 14 now and played plenty sports in his youth) was withdrawing from others and having too much screen time, I'd let him do something that as a mom I actually didn't have time to do, but it was worth the time.

Occasionally, he liked watching science experiments online, so I decided to let him do these experiments at home...nothing too complicated, but also safe. He also liked watching online pancake art, so I let him mix the batter and create colors using squirt containers I bought from the dollar store. Then he created his own pancake art.

Last year, I even bought him a set of fake butterfly knives to hone his trick skills he saw online.

It took some to break his shell, but he had fun and discovered that he too could do the same things as others. He learned that trying new things builds confidence and practicing can lead to improving your craft, whatever that may be at the moment.

Seize the day.

We live in large neighborhood so I got my kids bikes. My son rides round all the time. He has always met other kids in the neighborhood that way. Now with the pandemic, I don't know how many kids get to even ride the bus together anymore. When they did ride the bus, I would ask my kids who is on the bus & where do they live? Maybe I know their parents. What was their last name. Eventually we would get to know alot of people this way. My 14 yr old is in a new school this year. My kids are introverts. They don't want anything to do with sports even tho both played soccer when little. After a month, my 14yr old has made few friends. Took them to watch a football game and many mingled about. My oldest with adhd has many friends but they just hang out together, They also play & talk online video games after dinner when they need to be at home. I wouldn't worry too much. High school is a difficult time and they need to find their way amongst all the cliques.

Thank you so much for all of your wonderful feedback. Yes, it’s a struggle! A double whammy cause of the move across the country and knowing no one. He is an introvert, but he also wants connection and a sense of belonging. it’s tough when they are uninterested in doing anything and refuse to try anything, and as a parent you can see they are unhappy. Seems like the only thing that’s of interest is the darn phone! But it’s not making him happy, it’s just pulling him into spending more and more time on it😞

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