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ADHD Symptoms and Relationships

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Updated May 02, 2009

Question: ADHD Symptoms and Relationships
How can I help my teenage nephew with his behaviors? He pushes people away with his acting out. He gets up in other people’s space, hits when he doesn’t like what someone says, back talks, grabs and takes things from others, seems to get upset for no reason, reacts with angry outbursts and has even pulled the fire alarm at school. He seems to like pushing people’s buttons. I feel guilty for saying this, but sometimes I just don’t want to be around him. How much of his behavior is normal teen rebelliousness and how much is related to his ADHD?
Answer:

Your nephew sounds very impulsive. Invading personal boundaries, hitting others, mouthy talk, grabbing, pulling the fire alarm -- all these behaviors are likely related to his ADHD.

Children with ADHD have a difficult time thinking through consequences. They tend to “live in the moment,” wanting what they want now without regard to anything else. They often react or blurt out without thought. Sometimes their behavior can appear downright self-centered.

It can be very hard for a child with ADHD to maintain positive relationships with others. They often require lots of practice and support in order to improve social skills. For many, medication can also be helpful in getting better control over impulsive behaviors.

Sometimes individuals with ADHD engage in stimulation-seeking behaviors. Pulling the fire alarm, starting an argument -- these activities are exciting and stimulating. Unfortunately, they are also inappropriate and can result in frustrations and anger from others.

To top it off, your nephew is going through adolescence, a time of great change and uncertainty as an individual begins the transition from childhood into adulthood. An increase in moodiness and irritability during adolescence is normal and is likely exacerbated by the ADHD.

Your feelings are understandable. You obviously care about your nephew and are trying to sort out your own reactions to his behavior. You love him, but his behaviors can be beyond frustrating at times. Understanding more about how ADHD can impact behaviors is a good first step in gaining insight in to your nephew’s experiences.

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