adhd boys and girls

ADHD – The Difference Between Boys and Girls

May 3, 2018

Raising a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, can be a tough job. When it collides with puberty in the teenage years, well, those years turn harrowing. Social and emotional changes that happen to your teenage son or daughter who doesn’t have ADHD are immense, but with ADHD, it adds struggles that affect them for a long while.

If your teenage child had ADHD as a child, during their adolescent years, there is the risk of negative outcomes. They might try substance abuse,or be involved in delinquent behavior. But also this is the time when their symptoms improve and they begin to recover.

ADHD affects boys and girls differently, therefore you should try not to compare your children.

ADHD Statistics

Here are some statistics that report about ADHD for the past couple of years.

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) about 9.4% of children between 2 and 17 years were diagnosed with ADHD. With ages adolescent children between 12 and 17 being 3.3 million.

There are 6.4 million children diagnosed with ADHD between the age of 4 and 17.

Children who live below twice the poverty level are at a higher risk.

Males are three times more at risk of females.

Children who are from English-speaking households are 4x at risk.

9.5% of children between 4-17, there are 13.3% of boys and 5.6% of girls who have ADHD.

Symptoms of ADHD

There are different groups of symptoms for people with ADHD, it includes hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention.


For this group, your child is likely to be impatient when doing things and cannot wait to chip in and talk. It might come off rude, but they cannot help it.


This is common in children and quite visible, as the symptoms show before middle school. Some of the symptoms portrayed include always being on the go, when sitting they squirm or fidget a lot, cannot do quiet hobbies or play quietly, tends to climb or run a lot.

As a teenager, this is seen when they are restless and cannot sit still for long before they are up and walking around. They also can’t do quiet activities without fidgeting in their sit.


It is easy to notice if your teenager is inattentive, procrastination, changing from one uncompleted activity to the next. Other symptoms in this category include lack of focus, disorganization, cannot stick to one topic while talking or listening to others. They might forget what their duties are like assignments, or to carry their lunch, and they are easily distracted by minuscule things such as noise which most people ignore.

ADHD in Boys

The levels of testosterone in boys change and this can affect the dopamine and other hormones that are associated with ADHD. Therefore, boys with ADHD are at a risk of substance abuse in their youth.

There are intense psychological and physical changes that are likely to happen. It affects them immensely especially when they want to fit in.

When your adolescent child refuses treatment suddenly, be understanding and try to be of assistance. Talk to them, find out why they stopped taking their medication, pay attention to their concerns and find a middle ground that will work.

It can be because he denies his condition, or has forgotten to take his medication. But if they are insistent on not taking their medication, do a trial period and see if there is any change, and come to a conclusion.

Weight gain doesn’t warrant an increase in dosage if what he has now is working, don’t change it. If there has been no change for quite a while, talk to his doctor about changing his dosage.

Fitting in with ADHD

If your son was not able to make any friends, he might endure his adolescence alone and this is quite dangerous. While at school, if he has no social skills, he might tend to gravitate towards other misfits who don’t excel in sports or school.

ADHD teenage boys who deal with low self-esteem, no friends and desire to be accepted are likely to try drugs and alcohol. As a parent, you have to be vigilant. Learn the signs that your son might be abusing drugs and how you can help them.

Disorders due to ADHD

There are other two or more disorders that occur at the same time that are common in people with ADHD. Anxiety and depression show in the early stages of adolescence, therefore watch your child closely to know the symptoms of anxiety and ask for help if you notice anything unusual.

Antisocial, aggressive, and hostile behaviors are symptoms of Conduct Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. It is quite common in boys with ADHD and the chances of them being in dangerous situations are high.

ADHD in Girls

Puberty hits girls between 9 and 11, and get their periods between ages 11 and 14. Girls with ADHD in their early teenage years have problems with their academics, show early signs related to substance abuse, are aggressive and depressed. Unlike boys who outwardly show their struggles, girls internalize their problems and this is easy to overlook.

When estrogen and progesterone levels are high, the effect that the medication is minimal. During the first week of their cycle, the medication will work great due to the release of serotonin and dopamine, but during the second two weeks of their periods, it isn’t an easy ride.

The rise of progesterone in the third and fourth week of their cycle reduces the benefits estrogen has on the brain, and it will likely reduce the effect of the stimulant medicines she is taking. This is a recipe for intense and aggressive ADHD symptoms that affect the girl even a week before her period.

Conditions from ADHD.

Your daughter with ADHD has a high chance of getting premenstrual syndrome (PMS) as anxiety and depression worsens during their cycle. When you treat ADHD, you treat PMS symptoms too.

There are various medications that can help your daughter when she’s on her cycle. Talk to her doctor and know what will work for her, but be patient.

How to help your Teenage ADHD Daughter

Behavioral strategies that will help with organizational and management skills can help her. Talk to her and get to know when her symptoms get worse, this way you can encourage her to complete her school work before they begin or complete an essay or test early.

If she has strengths, remind her of them during her low times, and don’t be shocked when portrays some aggression or is argumentative. Instead of talking back, you can suggest she takes a nap, this way you are teaching her to self-management skills.

How you can help your child

Maintain an excellent child-parent communication. This way they can come and talk to you about anything they are going through without fear of being judged.

Talk to them about drugs, internet use, peer pressure, firearms safety, social media, or when friends are doing illegal activities. Make sure it is in a non-invasive manner and not like you are attacking them.

Make them engage in a healthy lifestyle, like exercising, getting enough rest, and how to manage their stress levels. This reduces the chances of them indulging in dangerous activities. Provide support when they are stressing out, and guide them in a manner that doesn’t seem intrusive.

Get your child to participate in many self-esteem boosting activities as this will affirm their value in the world. Don’t demoralize them no matter how many setbacks they’ve had.

At Hillcrest Adolescent Treatment Center we offer residential treatment for teens that focuses on individual mental well-being. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your child with their ADHD and get to live a happy life.


ADHD Data & Statistics from

ADHD by the Numbers: Facts, Statistics, and You from

Natural Resource Center on AFHD from

Symptoms of ADHD from

ADHD in Boys and Girls from