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 to manage their behaviour 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 behaviours to follow the rules.

  1. Provide Positive Attention

Positive playtime reduces attention-seeking behaviour. And it will make your consequences more effective. No matter how difficult their behaviour has been, set aside one-on-one time with your child daily.

Just 15 minutes of positive attention is one of the simplest, yet most effective ways to reduce behaviour problems.

2. Praise Your Child’s Effort

Kids with short attention spans need extra help following directions. Quite often, they don’t hear the instructions in the first place. Start by gaining your child’s full attention to make your instructions more effective. Turn off the television, establish eye contact, and place a hand on your child’s shoulder before making a request.

Avoid chain commands like, “Put on your socks, clean your room, and then take out the trash.” A child with ADHD is likely to put on their socks and then find something else to do rather than clean them on the way to their room. Give one instruction at a time.

Stay away from broad tasks like “clean your room.” Instead, provide a checklist or assign one task at a time, such as making the bed, putting dirty clothes in the hamper, replacing books on the shelf, etc.

Ask your child to repeat back to you what they heard to make sure they fully understand.

3. 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 essential.

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; you’ll encourage them to keep it up.

4. Use Time-Out When Necessary

Time-out can be an excellent way to help kids with ADHD calm their bodies and their brains.

Time-out doesn’t have to be a harsh punishment. Instead, it can be a valuable life skill in many situations.

5. Ignore Mild Misbehaviors

Kids with ADHD often exhibit attention-seeking behaviour. Giving them attention, even when it’s negative, encourages those behaviours to continue.

Ignoring mild misbehaviour teaches them that obnoxious behaviour won’t get them desired results. Ignore whining, complaining, loud noises, and attempts to interrupt you. Eventually, your child will stop.

6. Allow for Natural Consequences

When disciplining a child with ADHD, pick your battles wisely. You don’t want your child to feel as though they can’t do anything right or that they are constantly getting into trouble. Allowing some behaviours to slide can help both of you.

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.

7. Establish a Reward System

Reward systems can be a great way to help kids with ADHD stay on track. But children with ADHD often get bored with traditional reward systems that require them to wait too long to earn a reward. Consider establishing a token system that helps your child earn tokens throughout the day.

8. 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.

A behavior management plan that carries between home and school can be helpful.

For example, a child may receive points or tokens at school that can be exchanged for privileges at home.

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