Nearly 10% of American children and adolescents are diagnosed with ADHD. When your teenager is diagnosed with ADHD it's normal to feel a combination of relief and anxiety: relief because it provides an explanation for your teen's difficulty concentrating, and anxiety because you aren't sure what to do about it. Luckily, there are proactive things you can do to help your teen after learning they have ADHD. By following these five tips, you will help life run more smoothly for your child as well as the rest of your family.

Implement Specific Rules and Expectations

Sometimes, teens with ADHD have trouble following guidelines or rules if they are overly vague or open-ended. You will help your teen (and your own stress levels) immensely if you make rules as specific as possible. Ideally, they will also be in writing.

For example, instead of saying they need to get better grades, let them know that you expect them to earn only A's and B's and then help come up with a plan to achieve this. Similarly, if you want them home at a certain time or to help with chores, be specific and clear: you need to be home by 10 pm, and you have to clean your bathroom every Saturday, for example.

Work with a Child Psychiatrist

A qualified child psychiatrist will be able to prescribe an appropriate medication to help manage your teen's ADHD symptoms. The medication prescribed and exact dosage can vary from teen to teen, and sometimes adjustments need to be made if the initial prescription isn't effective enough. A psychiatrist will help guide this process and ensure your teen's symptoms are managed with minimal side effects. There are also adolescent psychiatry treatment centers that may be able to assist further. 

Talk to Their Teachers

Be sure to communicate with your teen's teachers about their ADHD. This doesn't need to be a big, dramatic conversation, but a simple, polite phone call or in-person chat should be adequate. Just let them know your child has ADHD and you are working together to manage their symptoms and to help ensure they stay on top of their studies.

Having open dialogue with their teachers and being cooperative with them will help this to feel like a team effort. Your teen will then feel like both you and their teachers are allies, rather than adversaries.

Focus on Short-term Goals

If your teen's goals are too far off in the future, they will likely lose focus long before they accomplish those goals. Instead, help them break down those big goals into more bite-size short-term goals. Instead of having your tenth grader focus on getting into a good college two years from now, for example, have them focus on things they can do right now that will ultimately put them on the path toward that goal.

Things like earning a higher GPA this quarter (remember to be specific) and researching the admissions requirements at three schools they may be interested in are things they can focus on in the short-term without feeling too overwhelmed.

Avoid Over-scheduling

Between homework, sports, after school activities, and part-time jobs, many teens are over-scheduled these days. Having an overwhelming, complicated schedule can exacerbate your child's ADHD symptoms since teens with ADHD already tend to feel overwhelmed and overstimulated easily.

If possible, find ways to make their schedule more streamlined and less stressful. Even just cutting out one extracurricular activity can make a big difference. Remember that everyone, even teens, need time to simply decompress and relax each week.

Your teenager's ADHD presents a challenge, but it's definitely not an insurmountable one. By following these tips, you can help your teenager can look forward to a much more calm home and school life.