At Sundance Canyon Academy, we have worked with countless students who needed additional help learning how to focus. Teens who have ADD or ADHD regularly struggle with time management, focus, and following through with their responsibilities. We are writing on this topic to help parents learn strategies to help their teens focus more and follow through with their responsibilities.
These days, our kids have a lot more things demanding their attention than we did at their age. They have a lot to balance between school, homework, chores, sports, friends, and social media. Schoolwork and life at home should take priority, but it’s all-important to our kids. Many adults even find it hard to balance all of their responsibilities and relationships all of the time.
Teenagers with ADD or ADHD often find time management to be nearly impossible. Learning to focus is a skill that doesn’t come naturally to all teens. If your son is going a million directions at once and needs to learn how to focus on just one thing, there are a few strategies that you can use to help him.
How to teach your teenager to focus
As you start teaching your teenager to focus, remember that it probably won’t be easy for him. If you are already good at managing your time and getting your work done, this process could be frustrating for you. Keep in mind and it is also going to be frustrating for him. Notice his progress (even the small steps) and help him find what works for him.
Set specific schedules for their work
Many teens have trouble getting their work done because they’re trying to focus on too many things at once. By setting specific schedules for their work, you’re reducing the number of possible distractions. Once your teen starts to learn their schedule, they can focus on the task at hand.
- When they get home from school, they get a 30-minute break to play on their phone and relax. After that, all electronics must be turned off while they complete their homework.
- If your teen comes home every day with a lot of homework, create an order for which subjects they tackle first.
- On weekends when your teen needs to get their chores done, set a schedule for the day. Set a wake-up time, breakfast and relaxing time, work time, and playtime.
Break big tasks into smaller steps
When a task seems overwhelming, teenagers often get lost trying to complete it. If your teen has a big project that they need to achieve at school, they might struggle to focus on all of the steps involved because it’s too much to handle. By breaking big tasks into smaller steps, the project becomes more manageable.
Teach your teen how to work backward to see all of the smaller steps involved in the project. Have them write all of the steps down so that they don’t have to remember them later. Once all of the steps are written, your teen will have a step-by-step list to follow.
Again, even adults fall prey to distractions. How many times have we started a project just to be derailed by something that came up and stole our attention? If your teen has ADD or ADHD, they are even more likely to be derailed by distractions. So, purposefully minimize distractions.
Minimizing distractions can include things like:
- No cell phone or TV during homework time
- Using noise-canceling headphones during homework time
- Doing homework in a specific part of the house away from distractions
- Only having one schoolbook out at a time
Notice the time
Teenagers don’t always realize how long a job takes. They might only think they need 15 minutes for their homework when they actually need an hour. As you’re going through this process with your teen, help them notice the time. As they become more aware of how long everything takes, they can start planning their schedules better.
Noticing the time will also help your teen learn to focus as they get older. Realizing exactly how much time they waste on their cell phone can help them learn to put their phone away. Ideally, as your teen gets older and gets better at focusing, you won’t have to step in and help them as much. They will start to understand time management techniques and know what works well for them.
Get your troubled teen son professional help
If your son is going in a million directions and none of the focusing techniques seem to work for him, you may need additional support. Teens with overwhelming ADD or ADHD can benefit more from the supportive environment of a therapeutic boarding school than from a military school or bootcamp. By working with professional therapists, teens can learn how to focus despite their issues with attention.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your teen.