Teens, ADHD and Procrastination

Many teens with ADHD procrastinate because they lack self discipline. Why? They may have either given up on themselves or have received messages that the adults in their lives have given up, or can’t come up with any solutions to help them.

Teens with ADHD

Teens with ADHD push back extra hard because they have heard over the years the things they haven’t done right. Argh! It takes courage each day to go to school. They don’t feel successful academically and even if they are, they still are immersed in challenges.

They tend to want to do everything themselves. They want to put you on an “as needed” basis, yet they still rely on parents for help.

Ask. Collaborate

In this post, I highlight my 3rd out of 5 Cs – Collaboration

Collaboration: Work together with your child and co-parent (if you have one) to find solutions to daily challenges instead of imposing your rules on them.  Read the 5 C’s of ADHD Parenting

It can be hard, sometimes really hard, not demanding, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you finish a simple worksheet!” These reactions are often based in exhaustion, when our proverbial cups are less than half full.

Ask as an Unbiased Researcher

“What’s happened so that you can’t do X, Y, Z?”

Now we can look at data and address changes that can help motivate our teen, AND help change their inner dialog.


What is the leading cause of wanting to do everything themselves? Shame.

I was embarrassed that I had a disability. I didn’t want to be seen as someone who needed extra help.

I want to do it by myself. I don’t like people seeing me as weak.

You may not see shame, rather anger, tears, or yelling about something unrelated.

Procrastination and Initiation

What it the biggest reason they procrastinate? Trouble getting started.

What may seem easy to us, may seem enormous to them.

They are masters of avoidance. Why start it if I can’t ……?

Initiation has to do with the size of the task and also the level of difficulty for the task. Breaks make a daunting project seem more manageable.

Start Small

Help break down assignments into chunks.

For instance, ask, “How many examples can you do before you want to throw your book across the room?”


3 Ways to Make Task Seem Smaller:

  1. Timer – This method makes the task of completing an assignment in tht clocks hands, not the parents. “Cool. OK. Let’s do 5 and then take a 3 minute break. I will set the timer for the break. When it goes off, you can do 5 more. When you completed an hour, you can have a longer break.
  2. Lists – Kids with ADhD have trouble planning what to do when. Sit down and ask, “Do you want to do hardest, medium and easiest? Or easiest for sense of success and then harder and medium last.” This works well for homework, chores, etc.
  3. Make tasks fun – listen to music – Their music is best. Tell jokes. Time yourselves for how fast to pick up room.

Want to learn more?  Read more about ADHD