Disciplining a child with ADHD can be very stressful and hard for parents and teacher. Actually, disciplining any child is hard and responsible work, but disciplining a child with ADHD is especially hard considering their characteristics like hyperactivity, impulsivity, etc. But, if you find the right strategies, disciplining a child with ADHD can be easy, with great results and even interesting for you and the child. You just need to harmonize strategies with characteristics of a child with ADHD, actually with his/her interests, abilities and way of thinking. Of course, you also must respect a child, be patient and persistent.
For helping parents and teachers, 7 strategies for disciplining a child with ADHD are represented here. Those strategies are harmonized with characteristics of children with ADHD and proved as effective in practice.
1. Improve communication with a child
For disciplining a child with ADHD, at first, you should understand that your child will do what you do rather than what you are telling them. Therefore, try to be a good model. For example, if you want your child to be less aggressive, give it a model of gentleness and kindness.
Tips on how to improve communication with a child
To give a good model to a child, you must establish communication with him/her which you want the child to use in the future. For that purpose, the following tips can help you:
• Listen to your child patiently while he/she talking to you to see how your child understands a situation.
• Make sure that you understand why your child is upset.
• Make sure that your child understands clearly what and why he/she are forbidden to speak or do something.
• Talk to your child clearly and using simple words. Many children with ADHD simply don’t understand communication that is not crystal clear and direct.
• Be consistent and predictable in behaviour.
• If you intend to react to a child’s behaviour, do it quickly after the behaviour, but not if you feel that you don’t have enough control over your emotions.
• Use rightful and appropriate punishments. For example, don’t punish a child forbidding to ride a bike with friends, but forbid the child to watch television.
• Avoid threats.
• Complete educational activity with positive feelings. If you have been able to explain to your child what you want, stop on that. Don’t force the given situation.
2. Use rewards correctly
All parents and teachers use rewards and punishments for raising children. But, they should all know how to use punishments and reinforcements properly if they want to avoid any unpleasant consequence in a child.
Using rewards correctly implies a change in your behaviour towards a child. Give more positive messages than negative. Of course, you should criticize a child for bad behaviour, but also try to praise, cheer and reward the child much more than criticizing, grunting or punishing. But, it is important to be realistic about children and to approve positive behaviour and not to counteract negative. If children feel that you like their behaviours, they will like themselves. Then, they will try to keep this feeling by behaving well.
The following tips explain how to use rewards properly for disciplining a child with ADHD.
- Use social awards more than material. For example, reward your child with a common picnic rather than a toy. This applies especially to older children. Through your rewards, let your child recognize that you value people more from things so he/she will adopt this model later.
- Let a child participate in the selection of prizes. For example, ask the child where he/she would like to go or what would like to do.
- Reward immediately! Children with ADHD structure cannot wait a long time. Therefore, it is better to give a child a small reward immediately after good behaviour, than a big one after a few days.
- Reward a child according to his/her age. Children up to 3 years of age need a reward even on every hour. Pre-school children need one reward for one day, school children one in a week and teenagers one in a month.
- Reward by steps. For example, you should divide a task of your child into many minor tasks. When the child finishes one minor task, reward him/her immediately with something tiny, for example, praise. When the child finishes all tasks, reward him/her with some bigger reward.
- Connect a reward with a child’s behaviour that you want to change. For example: “If you show me that you can clean the cage and take care of the parrot for a week, you will get one more parrot.”
- Reward a child when they behave nicely. If parents saw negative behaviour more often and criticized those, a child will get the impression that good behaviour doesn’t attract attention. Also, if mostly bad behaviour attracts attention, the child will behave badly to make sure that somebody notices what he/she are doing. Of course, children should learn that good behaviour is expected of them and that they must not always be praised or rewarded but it comes gradually. First, it is necessary that they feel pride and joy in good behaviour. Accolades and rewards will help them to determine the good feeling about themselves and that they want to behave well regardless of rewards.
3. The strategy about an association
Some children will listen to you and will do what you ask of them, but not children with ADHD. However, a good way to encourage them to an activity or task is to join them. You should perform tasks together modelling their behaviour gradually in order to they do the task independently.
4. For disciplining a child with ADHD, adjust the day to him/her
Children with ADHD simply don’t have a good sense of time. Therefore, for disciplining a child with ADHD, you should try to structure his/her day. At first, you should identify the connection between a behaviour of your child and situations. Actually, you should find in which situations the behaviour of your child is good and in which it is inappropriate. For that purpose, use The ADD ADHD Checklist For Assessing Problems In a Child’s Behavior Then, for example, if your child’s behaviour is the best in the morning, plan some activities that are suitable for socializing, such as trips or playing with friends, in that part of a day. If the child has a need to play after school, respect the child’s need by planning schoolwork for the evening.
How to adjust the day to a child with ADHD in unplanned circumstances?
Of course, you will not always be able to adjust the schedule of the day according to your child’s temperament. Unplanned circumstances always arise. In those situations, explain what’s happening to the child, follow his/her behaviour and try to adjust situations to him/her. For example, if unexpected guests come to you at a time when your child is usually innocent, explain to the child who they are, what will you do… Adjust the situation to the child giving the toys that he/she like. Also, follow your child while staying with your guests. If his/her behaviour starts to get worse, devote time to the child and cheer him/her up in time. Praise the child when his/her behaviour becomes good again…
Make rules with a child!
For disciplining a child with ADHD, you can also adjust a day to him/her by making rules. For example, determine the time when the child should get out of bed, when should have breakfast, how fast should dress… Of course, you should respect those rules if you ask the same from the child. It’s important that a child gets a prize for every step that he/she meets. You can use the point as the prize. You can make the rule that the child will get a reward for the specified number of point. The goal of the game isn’t to awake an external motivation in a child. On the contrary, when a child feels your pride in every respected rule, and when he/she feels other benefits due to an organized day, his/her self-motivation will develop.
5. Cooperate with others from the child’s environment
Many children with ADHD structure have the problem of transferring the rules from one situation to another. For example, a child with ADHD can learn how to behave at home, but he/she will behave differently at school. Therefore, you need to explain to the child that the same rules apply in other situations. Also, it is necessary to familiarize people from the child’s environment with rules, like teachers or friends. Then, they can demand the behaviour from the child according to same rules. That will avoid the child’s confusion.
6. Make reminders for a child with ADHD
Children with ADHD structure are often forgotten, so it is advisable to make different reminders for them. For example, above the bed, you can paste a reminder with thumbnails that show what to do when waking up. With these reminders, you will avoid gambles which can be boring for every child, especially for children with ADHD.
7. Teach a child empathy
Children with ADHD are very egocentric, i.e. they can not put themselves in the view of another person. At the same time, they can not think about how some person will feel if they do something bad. However, teaching a child with ADHD empathy is very easy, but you can not expect immediate results. It is only necessary to respect the child and to try to understand his/her feelings. In that way, you show to the child how you expect he/she to behave towards you and others. Being a model is much more effective than gambling and convincing. Also, you should use suitable opportunities to teach your child empathy. Ask them: “What do you think, what does this child feel now? How would you feel if you were in this situation?…
At the end…
As you may have already concluded, disciplining a child with ADHD doesn’t mean controlling the child, but teaching the child how to control him/herself. As already stated, that can be easy and funny work if you find the right strategies. I hope that you found some strategy or more of them which will help you to discipline your child with ADHD in this article.
If you want to learn more about disciplining a child with ADHD, I recommend you to visit Positive Parenting Solutions. You can find useful information and advice about ADHD from teacher and learning specialist Heather Leneau Bragg there. Through her coaching or course, you can learn about symptoms of kids with ADHD, what ADHD kids need and do NOT need, what are the best treatment option for them, etc. She will help you to become the great parent or teacher of a child with ADHD for sure.
If you know some more effective strategies that can help parents and teachers in raising kids with ADHD, please, share with us. If you have some suggestions or questions, put a comment or contact us and we will respond to you for sure.