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  • Writer's pictureThuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

Your Teen's Transition Into Adulthood (Early Small Handoffs = Big Payoffs For Parents)

| by Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed., TPT Teaching and Coaching, 3/21/2024|

The years always go by so quickly for busy parents and guardians. Every summer seems to fly by. Before you know it, your child is heading off to college. Where do you begin to help your teen transition into the real world known as adulthood. When is a good time to begin the adulting journey with your child? Honestly, with so much going on and parents' busy schedules, it may seem like there's never a good time. But one thing is for sure, you can't lose if you start early as much as possible, that is.

Small Handoffs

Although it would be a parent's dream to start your student with big things like balancing a saving account and doing 100% self-care and academic tasks without your reminders at all. However, we know that lifelong skills often get better internalized if you start with something small over a long duration of time. Repeated practice often helps neurodivergent students and young adults soak up skills better. There are many ways you can introduce ownership to your child. It would make the most sense to start with the basics and things that your child comes into contact almost daily. For example, let your student handle:

  • Emails related to them (writing, responding, and managing school emails)

  • Texts related to them (sending, replying, and managing texts related to school, doctors, tutors, coaches etc.)

  • Appointments (making and managing medical, personal, recreational appointments)

  • Transportation Schedule (if your teen hasn't driven yet, let the student initiate the routine and schedule for pick ups and drop offs)

  • Preparing the night before (lunches, backpack, sports gear, etc.)

  • 2-3 Household chores

Despite these daily coordinations look quite simple on the surface, it actually takes a lot of organization, early planning, and task initiation to get these routines implemented smoothly like a well-oiled machine. Once your teen has mastered all the avenues in the department of scheduling regular activities, you can introduce your teen to more complex skills and responsibilities such as handling a part-time job and school simultaneously. To avoid being overwhelmed, let your teen learn one thing at a time (i.e., email communication first, then always plan the night before every week) and always model language or behavior before you ask your teen to demonstrate it to you. Sometimes it takes several tries, but you can't go wrong if you start your teen on the early path of taking the initiative to get something done.

Summer Part-Time Job

Experiential learning is a strength for students with ADHD/LD; they learn best by doing. Sometimes immersing your teen into a summer part-time job can help her learn time management, organization, prioritization and social skills best by being in a real-life situation that requires your student to utilize executive function and life skills daily. While you can lecture your teen about how one day she will use the executive functioning skills to obtain career success, your teen would get the message loud and clear by being in a real-life situation and holding down a job day in and day out. Despite your teen may not even think about the skills she is absorbing, she is forced to apply those skills repeatedly to keep a job and eventually your student will get those skills down automatically without even thinking about them due to daily living implementation. That is a true testament to learn by doing.


Co-authoring is the idea that a parent can assign the student a small portion of a larger responsibility such as a multi-step family or personal project. Let's say your high school senior will be doing college visits in a few months. You can assign your teen the sole responsibility of submitting online college visit request forms on time for six selected colleges and universities. Meanwhile, you as a parent can take care some of the parental responsibilities such as booking flights and hotels for the out-of-state college visits. By delegating your teen a small but specific responsibility, you are putting your student on training wheels to learn executive functioning and life skills so that he will be able to take on larger responsibilities when he is ready to leave for college and practice independent living. The younger the student, the smaller the responsibility you can give him to practice ownership. Then, you can build on small victories and continue to help your teen take on a little more each year (summer included) to boost his confidence. It's never too early to start because the skills and the life lessons your child will learn by doing are always going to be the biggest message they will take away.

The greatest wisdom in life often comes in small, nuanced intervals. I believe parents cannot go wrong if you start small with your child and pick something that your family or child already does regularly and squeeze some personal accountability in there that your student can practice for that occasion (camping, family road trips, summer vacation, Thanksgiving Dinner etc). Let's say your family goes camping frequently during the summer months, then maybe that's the big event where you can give your child a small portion of the responsibility like packing their own backpack days before departure or gathering plastic utensils ahead of time before departure date (use wall calendars as reminders). That way, your child gets maximum practice and less work for parents since it will be something your family already does on a daily, weekly, or yearly basis anyway.


 Thuy Truong, M.A. Ed.

As a Certified ADHD Professional/Coach and Licensed Educator for 18 years, Thuy's holistic approach combines Learning Science with ADHD Science to design brain hack strategies that foster students'/individuals' long-term independence, motivation, and self-management skills. She is diligent in understanding her students and adults on all levels (ADHD, Executive Dysfunction, Autism, Dysgraphia, Anxiety, Depression, Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors-BFRB, Written Expression Disorder, Specific Reading Comprehension Deficit-SRCD, ADHD and Syncope-fainting spells). She listens deeply and spots the missing piece very quickly then she swiftly turns around to personalize tailored strategies to meet her clients' unique needs. She believes in evidence-based practices as well as giving the student/individual the best of all worlds: learning science, cognitive science, and ADHD science. Her favorite part is recognizing the missing puzzle and customizing the "brain hack" in a language that is unique to that individual while meeting all their needs. She especially enjoys helping students/adults translate their challenges into actionable steps and likes letting them know that they are well loved!

Learn more about how Thuy marries a student's cognitive style with brain hack strategies here.

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