“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for the day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for life.”
When a teen has ADD, it can seem easier for parents to help move them along by doing their work for them: managing their schedule, reminding them of their obligations, and even helping them with their schoolwork.
This is what a loving parent does, right? Within reason, yes. But there is an age appropriate difference that needs to be taken in to consideration. When your teen becomes a Junior in high school, they should be already managing these things on their own.
They should be getting up on time with their own alarms (without your needing to fight with them). They should be at the front door, ready to leave at the designated time, so that they can arrive before the start of school. Their schoolwork should be noted and tracked in one place. They should be able to anticipate a busy week, and set aside time for working on projects and tests.
The challenge with today’s high expectations for college admissions is that many loving parents of kids with ADD are overcompensating with their support. Thus their kids are appearing to thrive, when indeed, they would flounder without their parent’s assistance.
I’ve observed firsthand that it doesn’t ultimately work if a teen gets a 4.2 GPA and gains admission to a top name school, if they didn’t actually write their own essays, can’t make it to class on time, and don’t have the discipline to prepare in advance for their exams. This is why many bright students with ADD are floundering in college, and even failing out.
The time for teens with ADD to cultivate solid life skills is in high school: Patience, persistence, flexibility, adaptability, frustration-tolerance, perseverance and grit. If medication is indicated, then the right dosage is also something to be addressed at this time. If academic support is indicated in the way of extended time on tests, tutoring, or other resources, this too can be made available at college, but needs to be determined in high school.
In closing, the reason a butterfly struggles so hard to emerge from it’s cocoon is that it is developing the strength in its wings to fly. If you intervene out of compassion, releasing it from it’s struggle though opening the cocoon, the butterfly will end up crippled.
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