Parents and teachers expect a lot from teenagers: academic achievement, personal accountability, social independence, and the good sense to avoid bad decisions.

When these expectations exceed a teen’s own sense of self-esteem and self-worth, he may deal with that stress by opting out — literally disengaging and refusing to attempt achievement at school. Learn to understand your unmotivated teenager by watching this video.

Why Teens Stop Trying

The motivation to attempt and achieve great things seems to wane in high school. For teens with ADHD, this is particularly true for 3 reasons:

1. Intense pressure to succeed leads to overwhelm.

ADHD intensifies the fear of falling short. Actual failure is sometimes paralyzing.

Executive function challenges can make large, multi-step assignments feel impossible to start.

2. Adolescents naturally want independence.

As they enter middle school, tweens with ADHD face new challenges like:

  • Changing classes
  • Keeping assignments and lockers organized
  • Learning more academically rigorous material

At the same time, these adolescents are beginning to explore their own independence and refuse help from their parents.

3. Teen boys are socialized to publicly display their masculinity.

Teen boys need up to 20% more time to develop than do girls. ADHD further delays brain maturation.

When these challenges make teen boys feel vulnerable, they are more likely to disengage with learning to avoid feeling incompetent and unmanly.

“They might not say it, but many boys with ADHD harbor the belief that they won’t ever make it in this world.” – Michael Riera, Ph.D.

With the right support and understanding, parents can build teens’ self-esteem and drive to succeed. Find out how here.


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