When you have a child with ADHD, you may need a different approach to discipline. A few simple changes to your parenting strategies could give your child the tools they need to manage their behavior more effectively.
Kids with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, completing tasks, managing impulses, and following directions. These discipline strategies can be instrumental in helping a child with challenging behaviors to follow the rules.
- Provide positive attention – Positive playtime reduces attention-seeking behavior. And it will make your consequences more effective. No matter how difficult their behavior has been, set aside one-on-one time with your child every day. Just 15 minutes of positive attention is one of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to reduce behavior problems.
- Give effective instructions – Kids with short attention spans need extra help following directions. Quite often, they don’t hear the instructions in the first place. Ask your child to repeat back to you what they heard to make sure they fully understand.
- Praise your child’s effort – Catch your child being good and point it out. Praise motivates children with ADHD to behave, and frequent feedback is important. Make your praise specific. Instead of saying, “Nice job,” say, “Great job putting your dish in the sink right when I asked you to.” Praise your child for following directions, playing quietly, and sitting still and you’ll encourage them to keep it up.
- Use Time-Out when necessary – Time-out can be a good way to help kids with ADHD calm their bodies and their brains. Teach your child to go to a quiet spot to calm down when they are overstimulated or frustrated. Create a comfortable area and calmly guide them there, not as punishment, but as a way to soothe themselves. Eventually, your child will learn to go to this place on their own before they get into trouble.
- Ignore Mild Misbehaviors – Ignoring mild misbehaviors teaches them that obnoxious behavior won’t get them desired results. Ignore whining, complaining, loud noises, and attempts to interrupt you. Eventually, your child will stop.
- Allow for Natural Consequences – Sometimes, allowing for natural consequences makes more sense than trying to convince a child to make a better choice. For example, if your child refuses to take a break from playing to eat lunch, simply put the food away. The natural consequence is that they will likely be hungry later and will have to wait until dinner to eat. Tomorrow, they will be more motivated to eat lunch when it is served.
- Establish a Reward System – Establish a few target token-earning behaviors, such as staying at the table during a meal, using gentle touches with a pet, or putting toys away after using them. Then, allow tokens to be exchanged for bigger rewards, like electronics time or a chance to play a favorite game together.
- Work With Your Child’s Teacher – When parents work together with a child’s teacher, it increases the chances that a child will be successful in school. Some children need modifications to their schoolwork, such as being allowed extra time on tests, to be successful.