There are good ways to discipline a child with ADHD. Nagging, yelling, and punishing are not among them.
Parenting a child with ADHD can challenge a parent's patience — and good judgment. Just like all kids sometimes make bad choices regarding their own behavior, parents can make bad decisions disciplining this misbehavior. Instead of using firm and compassionate approaches, parents of kids with ADHD are often driven into the ignore-nag-yell-punish cycle. Sound familiar? Try these child discipline strategies to break that cycle once and for all.
💟 Do: Get Involved, Quickly
Quickly move people or objects to prevent bad behavior. For example, if your children start quarreling over a toy, you might say, “Alex, sit over there. Maria, stand here. I’ll take this and put it up here.” Similarly, if your child comes in from outside for supper and refuses to wash his hands before eating, immediately take his plate off the table and silently point to his hands.
💟 Don't: Ignore Your Child's Misbehavior
You should respond to your child's behavior, when it's good and bad. Otherwise, your child may read your silence as "I won’t give you my attention or concern" or even "I reject you." She might also assume that your silence means you approve of what she is doing — even when you don't.
💟 Do: Be Brief
Keep your words to a minimum when disciplining. Some of the best parenting advice that can be given is summed up in the following statement: The fewer words you use to discipline your child with ADHD, the more effective (and heard) they will be. Tell your child once, very clearly, what you expect of him. Then stop talking.
💟Don't: Be a Chatterbox
It's important that you don't go on and on about what your child is doing wrong. Words are like tires: Each time they rotate against the pavement, they lose tread, and become less efficient at starting, stopping, and steering. Eventually, they will have no "traction" at all — as tires will eventually become bald.
💟 Do: Keep Calm
Don't let your own anger get the best of you. Tell yourself that you won't open your mouth until you're calm enough to speak at a normal volume and in a cordial tone. To calm down, spend a few minutes alone — something as simple as excusing yourself to get a glass of water may do the trick.
💟 Don't: Shout
Try not to bark orders like a drill sergeant. Yelling shows a child that you, the almighty parent, have lost control. Shouting also opens up the door to your child to return the favor and to yell back.
💟 Do: Punish Fairly
Use appropriate punishment when responding to a misbehavior. The consequence for spilling milk might be that your child cleans up the mess, and then pours another glass and sets it in a safer place on the table. No reason to blame or yell at him, or even withhold food from him.
💟 Don't: Overdo It
It's important that you don't go overboard with punishment. In most cases, harsh punishments, like spanking, encourage children with ADHD to become sneaky so as not to get caught next time. They may even cause your child to doubt your love for him — something you want to avoid at all costs.
Coach Benjamin Mizrahi. Educator. Learning Specialist. Family Coach. Father. Husband.
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