Lack of Motivation Due to Insufficient Skills and Negative Life Experiences

Problems with motivation for young people with ADHD begin in the brain—where an imbalance of neurotransmitters may rob the individual of any natural feelings of motivation or “get up and go”—but, unfortunately, these motivational challenges don’t end in the brain. Instead, they may carry over into other areas of the young person’s life, further complicating the young person’s ability to feel motivated. Insufficient skills. Over the course of the young person’s life, his or her imbalanced brain chemistry has led to weakened executive functioning skills, such that the young person may have trouble concentrating, focusing, organizing thoughts, sustaining effort, or utilizing working memory. As you can imagine, this kind of compromised brain functioning makes for a very challenging learning environment. While the young person’s peers are observing social behavior—learning how to make friends, communicating effectively with adults, and effectively modulating their emotions—the young person with ADHD is missing the chance to acquire the same skills because his or her mind has created an environment not conducive to learning. While classmates are learning from their own parents’ modeling of how to manage one’s time, keep one’s living space organized, or make conversation at a family gathering, the young person with ADHD may be unable to observe, absorb, or acquire those skills because of challenges with executive functioning. Negative life experiences. A lack of skills can lead to a lack of motivation in young people with ADHD, but there’s even more contributing to challenges in motivation for these young people. Another source of nonmotivation can be the demoralizing nature of many of the life experiences encountered by the young person so far in life. For example, a young person with ADHD might have experienced many failures in his or her lifetime, such as receiving poor academic grades, encountering difficulty making lasting friendships, or repeatedly struggling to initiate a task, due to the challenges of ADHD. The life experiences that begin to accumulate for the young person, then, are typically marked by disappointment, letdown, or even defeat.