Teaching Responsibility and Instilling Confidence in Teens With ADHD

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Q: “How can I get my 15 year old to understand that by making her bed every morning she is setting up her first win for the day?” — SydneyMumma


Hi SydneyMumma:

I’m not sure you can. Let me explain. But please understand that I am answering this with very little information on the specifics on how your household is run.

Fun fact #1. I grew up in a house where my mother forbid my sister and me from making our beds in the morning. She believed that after a night’s sleep, the beds needed airing. So covers were folded and left at the very edge of the bed all day. Every day. So the act of making my bed was never an assigned chore or responsibility.  I never connected it to the feeling that I had mastered my first win of the day. But please trust me when I say there were plenty of other responsibilities that were expected of me that had the same effect.

And that is my point. I wonder if your real goal here is NOT for your daughter to make her bed specifically, BUT to identify a task or two that that she can easily accomplish first thing in the morning — thereby allowing her to start her day feeling super successful and ready to conquer the world. After all, small successes breed even more successes!

So fun fact #2. My children did not have to make their beds when they were younger. Since my husband grew up making his and I didn’t, we left it up to them to decide. As you might have guessed, my daughter made hers and my son did not.

[Free Resource: Transform Your Teen’s Apathy Into Engagement]

However, we found other morning responsibilities he could master on his own that set his day up on a positive note. He was expected to get up on his own (a huge victory!!), make breakfast, pack his lunch (or remember the one he packed the night before), and get out the door on time with minimal to no assistance from us. Lots of check points on this list for morning wins!

And fun fact #3. By the time my children reached 15, they were doing their own laundry. Granted, this isn’t a morning win, but any chance I had to give my son (and daughter) a responsibility they could accomplish independently and do well, was a win that lasted all day… and to the next morning!

So perhaps there are other household or personal responsibilities that your daughter can take on to help her feel successful. Does she like to cook? Maybe she helps prepare dinner one or two nights during the week? Does she like to do physical activity? Let her walk the dog in the morning before school. In other words, tap into her strengths and interests to raise her success meter!

Now, if making beds in your household is “non-negotiable,” then you are going to need to sit down with your daughter to explain to her your point of view, the rules of your home, and the responsibility/consequence pendulum that swings consistently in most households. Make your rules known, be clear and concise, take the emotionality out of the equation, and make sure whatever consequence you propose is appropriate to the situation.

[Free Resource: Sample Schedules for Reliable Family Routines]

Finally, make sure she knows HOW to make the bed. Yes, I’m serious.

Good Luck!

[Up Next: How to Teach Your Teenager Responsibility with ADHD]


ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!


Updated on October 14, 2019



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