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7 Executive Functioning Deficits That Deflate Motivation for Teens with ADHD

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Lackluster and inconsistent motivation are part and parcel of ADHD. From a lack of self-confidence to a desire for autonomy (and its corollary, defiance), tweens and teens with ADHD struggle to get and stay motivated — especially on the tough stuff — for myriad reasons.Deficits in executive function (EF) — the brain tools that allow us to plan, organize, prioritize, initiate, and meet our goals — are a major contributor to motivation challenges in adolescents with ADHD.

Children and teens with ADHD experience a three-year delay in the development of their executive function skills, so it's almost certain they will require additional support to bolster their executive functioning skills and increase motivation.Read on to learn more about the executive function skills tied to motivation, the most significant EF challenges shared by parents in a recent ADDitude webinar, and expert strategies to improve each EF skill."How do you get them to start?

When the work piles up, my child gets overwhelmed and does not know when or how to start. I try to get my child to do homework, but they growl at me and say that 'they know' but still won’t do anything.""My son is 16 and has trouble getting started on a simple list of chores or homework without outside pressure, which usually means me (mom) resorting to a large amount of nagging."Next Steps: "How do you motivate kids for time-sensitive things?

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Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa (AN), bulimia nervosa (BN), and binge-eating disorder (BED) typically begin in adolescence, but they are increasingly seen in younger children.Researchers have linked the rise of eating disorders in children and teens to the pandemic and the ongoing youth mental health crisis, among other stressors.12Social media may also play a role in driving body image dissatisfaction and negative comparison among teens.3 What’s more, children and teens with conditions like anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are at greater risk for developing eating disorders.4 ,5Eating disorders are complex but treatable conditions. Early detection greatly improves recovery and health outcomes.If you are concerned that your child is showing signs of an eating disorder like AN, BN, or BED, answer the questions below and share the results with your child’s pediatrician or a licensed mental health professional who is experienced in diagnosing and treating eating disorders.If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, contact the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) for support, resources, and treatment options. Call or text NEDA at 800-931-2237 or visit to reach a NEDA volunteer.This self-test was adapted from materials provided in “Identification and Management of Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.