Disciplining any child certainly has its challenges, but disciplining a child who suffers from ADHD often proves even more difficult. While you certainly don’t want to let the child’s actions to go unchecked, you also want to avoid placing too much blame on the child for things that are beyond his control. To discipline an ADHD child, you must strike a balance between strictness and understanding.
Time to Think
It is easy to become overwhelmed with frustration when dealing with an ADHD kid. Many parents respond to this frustration by escalating the situation, giving the child instructions and expecting an instant response. This action is understandable, but rapid-fire discipline will likely only mar your relationship with your child and leave her no more knowledgeable about how to control her behavior than she had before. Instead, step away from your child after giving her instructions regarding her behavior and allow her time to process the request. ADHD children often require this extra processing time, as they too are prone to becoming easily frustrated. For example, telling your child, “I asked you to pick up your toys. I am giving you five minutes to think about this and hopefully to do what I have asked,” is more effective than screaming the command at your kid.
Many ADHD kids run into trouble because they lack the ability to control their impulses. Instead of continually punishing their children for this inability to control themselves, help them develop the skills necessary to do so. When your child does something that you wish he wouldn’t have as a result of his inability to control his impulses, punish him — but not without discussing the situation and showing him that, had he taken time to think before he acted, he wouldn’t be in this predicament.
Individual Behavioral Needs
Because ADHD impacts every child differently, you can’t adopt a blanket discipline policy for all ADHD suffers. By tailoring your discipline plan to your child and his specific needs, you can increase its effectiveness. Before creating your plan, consider the areas in which your child struggles most to ensure that your plan addresses these problem spots effectively.
Power of Praise
Many ADHD children feel like the constant target of criticism. To prevent this, pepper in praise as much as possible. While it may not seem necessary to praise your child for each thing that he does right throughout the day, taking the time to do so can prove an effective means of helping your child control his behavior and helping his positive self-image.
Struggles with Self-Discipline
The ultimate goal of any ADHD child’s discipline plan should be to teach the child how to control himself. While you can use discipline to guide your child’s behavior now, in the future he will need to take charge of his own actions. To increase the likelihood that your plan does just this, constantly modify the way in which you discipline your child, gradually providing fewer and fewer prompts and expecting your child to take behavior control more upon himself.