ADHD Teens: Help for School and Social Skills Difficulties

For ADHD teens, here are tips on bettering social skills, plus dealing with school, homework and time management problems.For ADHD teens, here are tips on bettering social skills, plus dealing with school, homework and time management problems.

Being a teenager is tough enough, but being a teenager with ADHD can cause many more difficulties. For teens, being one of the crowd and fitting in is very important. Feeling different can be painful. When you reach the teen years, you also want to start showing your independence and begin to solve your own problems. These tips can help you to begin to find solutions to many of the common difficulties teens with ADD/ADHD seem to experience.

These tips can help you to begin to find solutions to many of the common difficulties teens with ADD/ADHD seem to experience.

Social Skills Tips

  1. Let your friends know you have ADHD. Although it might be embarrassing to tell them, it might be less embarrassing in the long run if you forget important details, are always running late or feel you need to explain or cover up for forgetfulness.
  2. If you have a difficult time expressing your feelings or ideas, ask family members to help you practice. Try reading a passage from a book and take turns summarizing what you read as well as discussing what you think about it. This will help you practice your own skills as well as observe how others communicate.
  3. Join clubs or after school activities. The more people you are around, the more practice you will have in talking with peers as well as adults.
  4. Ask questions. When trying to talk with someone, ask questions to find out what they are interested in.
  5. If you have a difficult time reading people's expressions and body language, ask for help with other members of your family. Although it sounds corny, role playing and acting out different situations and discussing them can help you be prepared when different situations come up.
  6. Learn relaxation and deep breathing techniques to help relieve the anxiety that may be present in social situations. Use these techniques to keep yourself calm and take a moment to focus on what you want to say.
  7. Ask people to repeat what they have said if you forget. It is better to ask them to repeat it than answer a question that is irrelevant to the conversation.
  8. Ask questions during a conversation, the more interaction, the more you will stay interested and focused.
  9. Respect other's space. Don't stand too close to them that they feel closed in and don't stand so far away they feel you are avoiding them.
  10. Use frequent eye contact during conversations.

Homework Skills

  1. Try to complete your homework in daylight hours. Some studies indicate it takes longer to complete the same task at nighttime.
  2. Create flashcards for yourself when studying for a test. These allow you to break down information into small segments easily.
  3. Use an assignment book. Don't rely on your memory to keep track of what you need to remember. You can also try using a pocket size tape recorder (you might need to get permission from the school to use this) and you can speak your assignments and what you need to remember. You can also use this at home to record what you need to remember to do in school the next day.
  4. Create a space for yourself to complete your homework. Keep this area as clutter free as possible and have supplies, such as pencils, pens, and paper, readily available.
    Ask your family to respect your homework space and not take supplies or move items around so that you are not using homework time to reorganize yourself each day.
  5. Use a cardboard box to keep all your loose papers in. Each day when you do your homework, empty your books, backpack, pockets, etc. of loose papers and add them to the box. When you need old papers for school, you will know exactly where to find them.
  6. For long term projects, break down into small chunks and make a schedule for completing each item. Keep your schedule on the wall of your homework area (use a white board or bulletin board on the wall) so that each day you can see what needs to be completed toward your project.
  7. Complete the hardest homework, or the subject you dislike the most first and get it out of the way. If you save this for last you could drag out the rest of your homework in order to delay it.
  8. Keep a list of classmates and their phone numbers in your study area so that you can call if you have forgotten the assignment or have questions about what should be completed.
  9. Take a short break every half hour to stretch and then get back to work. Be sure to limit your break time to 5 minutes and make sure you don't start watching TV during the break.
  10. When studying for a test, read through the summaries of sections and chapters before reading the chapter itself. This will help you to focus on the main ideas of the chapter.

Time Management

  1. Make a schedule of your day: what time you go to school, what time you arrive home, how long it takes you to complete your homework, household chores and work hours. From there you can determine how much free time you have and schedule your day so that everything can be completed.
  2. Make a list of things you want to do. When you find yourself sitting and watching TV for hours or just doing nothing and being bored, use your list to change your time into productive time.
  3. Set goals for what you want to accomplish. Make your goals specific. For example, "I want to make some money" is not a goal, "I want to make $50.00 to buy a new pair of shoes" is a goal. It is much easier to reach a goal when you have something specific in mind.
  4. Divide your daily activities into categories and decide on the priority of each category.
    Completing homework is a priority, getting exercised is a priority. Hanging out at the mall is not. Set your activities based on their priority.
  5. Set time limits for yourself. If you need to complete household chores, set a time limit and then work to complete them within the time limits.
  6. Use a date book or a PDA to help you keep track of your responsibilities and plan your days based on what needs to be accomplished. Doing this will allow plenty of time to do what you want to do.
  7. Keep as much routine as possible in your day. Knowing what you need to do and when you need to do it will help you to accomplish more.
  8. Keep supplies for your chores or homework in one place. Having to reorganize yourself each day can waste much time. Keeping supplies in place will help you to accomplish the task quickly.
  9. Don't procrastinate. Procrastination causes wasted time.
  10. Take the time to complete a task correctly the first time. Having to redo your work over again can waste time.


  1. If you have a study hall available to you during one class period or after school, use it and take advantage of a quiet time to study and complete homework. If you are in a classroom full of students completing work, you might go along and complete yours as well.
  2. Take notes during class. This can help to keep you focused on the material being taught.
  3. Use your assignment book to keep lists of things to do. Don't make lists on scraps of paper or you may end up losing them or forgetting about them. Get into the habit of completing a list of things to do each evening for what you want to accomplish the next day.
  4. Talk to your teachers about your ADHD and how it affects your work. Ask for their assistance in areas you are experiencing problems. They will be more willing to help if they understand that you are trying to overcome rather than making excuses.
  5. Sit in front of the classroom
    This will help you to focus on the lesson and will enable you to pay attention and will minimize distractions.
  6. Be prepared. If you are constantly going to class unprepared, buy a box of pens and keep them in your locker. Buy several small pocket size notebooks. Each morning, if you find you don't have a pen and paper, use a small pocket size notebook, and take a pen from your locker.
  7. If you end up each day at home without the books needed to complete your assignments, use different methods to remember which books to bring home. One student used different coloured strips of paper for each class and would keep one in each book. If he needed to bring that book home, he would take the paper out and put it in his pocket. At the end of the day, he only needed to check his pocket to see what books to bring home. Another student would write the class on his hand to remember. He wrote M for Math, E for English, etc. While at his locker, he had on his hand what books he had homework in.
  8. Find a partner to help you. Find someone you trust and work well with to help you stay focused during the day. Have a secret signal they can give you if they see you have lost your focus.
  9. Clean out your locker every Friday. Get into the habit of bringing home all loose papers in your locker each Friday. When you get home you can sort through to see what you need and organize the papers. Having a clean locker will help you to stay organized and be prepared.
  10. Ask the school about bringing home an extra set of books. You will not need to carry your books back and forth and will never forget your books at home or school.

Part of this is from the books by Chris A. Zeigler Dendy: Teenagers with ADD and Teaching Teens with ADD and ADHD.



APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 13). ADHD Teens: Help for School and Social Skills Difficulties, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 18 from

Last Updated: May 7, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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