Managing Internal and External Factors of ADHD

Part of adulting and prioritizing is understanding that there are things you can change about your life and things that are out of your control. This is even more important that we convey this to teenagers — they need to know the steps of managing internal and external factors of ADHD. 

For every task that needs completed, there are two sides to the coin. 

The internal factors are things like maintaining focus, prioritizing, time-management, self-care. These all depend on your teenager, not anyone else. 

Then there are external factors: due dates, practices, assignment criteria, time limitations.

They are determined by someone else.. 

When we identify the two sides to the coin, we can take responsibility for the things on the internal side and examine the external side for any crossover.

What’s due? When is it due? How are you going to do it? – The best way to study with ADHD

Just because someone else sets up those factors and puts those rules on your teenager, it doesn’t mean you can do nothing to change them.

And sometimes the external factors are just implied and not really required—like when a student thinks he or she NEEDS to make flashcards for a presentation instead of focusing on the presentation itself or when the teenager hyper focuses on the least helpful information during a study session. 

(Some of us have perfectionist teenagers who would spend hours on prepwork that the teacher isn’t even looking for.)

The best way to take control is to make sure you and your teen understand both factors and write out the requirements.

When I work with my teen clients and parents, most of them don’t even realize there’s an option to ask the teacher to clarify, make an exception, give an extension, or skip a practice. 

Of course, this isn’t something you want to do all the time. Teenagers need to be able to complete assignments on time and within the parameters to prepare for the real world. But if your teenager is in a position where you both recognize the stress level is too high, something has to give. This would be the time to pull your self-care card and have your teen reach out to the teacher. 

The important thing to remember here: teachers are students’ biggest fans! They want to be accommodating and help your teenager succeed in any way possible. You just have to ask. 

The worst thing they could say is “no”.

And then you pull yourself up and focus on what internal factors you can change. 

We’re all given a limited amount of time in the day. When we teach our teens how to make the most of their time, they’ll be better at advocating for themselves and focusing on the things they can control. 

Best Planner for ADHD Students

The thing that helps the most for keeping track of all those external factors is an academic planner.

This is something I train all of my teenage clients to do as they figure out their ADHD study habits and best practices. I’m happy to say, most of my teens by the end of this past school year were writing everything down habitually (although several of them still haven’t started using a planner YET). 

The goal is to get an awesome planner that works for your teen and then train them to carry it to class and write down assignments as they receive them. 

Or, if they are virtual schooling, they can even map out assignments one month in advance to have a more extensive visual of the tasks that they need to get done. 

When they are able to nail down the external factors, (when they know what needs to be done!) it will actually improve those internal factors like motivation and focus. 

My favorite academic planner for my ADHD teens has always been this one right here.

Leslie Josel is my good friend and colleague who designed this award winning planner. 

I love it so much because your teen only has to write down their class titles once, and then they flip the narrower pages to view one week at a time. There are so many accessories including an awesome sticker pack and page marker bookmark.

Personally, I love to use these Staedtler fine tip markers with this planner. They’re nice and colorful, and if you have a teen who is very particular or a visual learner, these markers rock and work really well.

ADHD Coach Near Me

For more tips on managing teenage ADHD over the summer, how to talk to my teen, ADHD study habits, self care ADHD, and how to motivate a teenager with ADHD, feel free to binge the videos in the Facebook group Guides section here!

Happy summer!