Getting ADHD Teens to Open Up

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Q: “My teen son has ADHD, and I worry that he’s hiding and bottling up his emotions around me. I seldom hear from him anymore about his days and the things on his mind. Why does he do this? How can I get him to be more open with me about his emotions?”


Suppressing our emotions isn’t healthy. Teens, particularly teenagers with ADHD, might expertise intense feelings and reactions, so it’s all of the extra necessary for them to perceive ADHD’s position, how to self-regulate, and the way to discover healthy retailers for expressing feelings.

Why Teens Bottle Up Emotions

While it’s nice that you really want your son to be snug sharing his emotions with you, it’s necessary to keep in mind that youngsters may be particularly selective about the place, when, and with whom they share feelings.

[Read: How Do I Teach My Teen to Manage Emotions?]

1. Independence. It’s developmentally applicable for adolescents to start figuring issues out for themselves. Your teen could also be coping with deeply private and complicated questions. Talking with dad and mom about these subjects may be the very last thing on his thoughts.

2. Changing expectations. With social distancing and distant studying throughout the pandemic, our teenagers are overwhelmed on all fronts. Without buddies close by or the construction of in-person college, our teenagers are below higher pressure to be self-reliant. This expectation can lengthen to coping — and doing so by maintaining emotions bottled up inside.

To be clear, simply because your teen doesn’t open up to you doesn’t imply he isn’t opening up in any respect. It may very well be the case that he’s speaking about his emotions with buddies, as many teenagers do.

Still, in order for you to encourage your teen to share his emotions, I like to recommend an oblique strategy:

[Click to Read: Social Smarts – The Teen Years]

  • Ask “how” and “what” questions. Rather than mentioning feelings outright, gauge your son’s headspace by asking about context and occasions. Ask questions like, “How did you respond when that happened? What was it like for you? What would you have liked to do or experienced instead?”
  • Avoid eye contact. It sounds counterintuitive and should really feel unusual, however the best conversations with reluctant teenagers can typically occur when there’s no face-to-face contact. It relieves pressure and makes for a extra informal surroundings for severe subjects. Try having these conversations whereas taking a drive, going for a stroll, cooking collectively within the kitchen, or partaking in one other exercise the place mounted eye contact isn’t required.
  • Check in at night time. I’ve discovered that teenagers have a tendency to let down their guard as they’re winding down for mattress. Try a fast verify in at night time by sitting on the sting of their mattress or a close-by chair to make that connection and see in case your youngster is extra keen to open up.

Bottling Up Emotions: Next Steps

Do you could have a query for ADDitude’s Dear Teen Parenting Coach? Submit it right here.


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Updated on January 8, 2021



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