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Struggles with impulse control and paying attention can cause behavioral challenges in a child with ADHD. Although managing your child’s behaviors may seem overwhelming at first, there are proven strategies and techniques that will help you help your child. These include behavior therapy, rules and expectations, rewards and consequences, and plenty of patience. Here are some proven techniques that you can use to help your child manage their behavior.
Therapy and praise work (Tiffany Cook)
Teaching children that there are rules that govern our lives, consequences for breaking them, and rewards for keeping them is not only common-sense parenting, but also the fundamental foundation for behavior therapy for children with ADHD. The first aspect of this therapy is to make sure your child understands the rules and the reasons for them. Keep the reasons objective and point out that living by these rules can have positive or negative consequences to them depending on how they respond.
Secondly, give clear and specific commands that communicate exactly what you want your child to do. Telling a child with ADHD to simply “be good” does not work. Praise your child much more than you criticize them. Look for reasons to edify them every day. This builds confidence and self-esteem in your child that can result in better behavior choices. Finally, set up a behavioral and reward chart at home to reward good behavior choices; and, as tough as it may be, try and set up a similar behavioral/reward system at school.
Be clear and consistent (Kereth Harris)
Each and every child is different and with managing behavior there is not going to be one technique that will be your lifesaver. The mantra that will really help you is “clear and consistent.” If everyone is clear about the expectations then we are all headed in the right direction together. Consistency is key with ADHD children and children in general. If there is an expected outcome, then make sure it happens and don’t change the plans. And always remember, you are your child’s best cheerleader and advocate, and make sure they know it. That goes a long way.
Rewards and consequences are key (Lesley Scott)
Young children may naturally struggle with self-regulation and following rules can be difficult. It is important to remember that some children with ADHD are unable to control their behavior even if rules and expectations are clear. Behavior therapy has however proven to be an effective method of managing children’s behavior. Behavior therapy requires consistent application of rules and rewards positive behavior. Making sure that rules are clear and understood by your child is important. When a rule is followed, this can be rewarded by offering praise or by having a reward system in place with tangible rewards. In small children, rewards should follow directly after the good behavior.
With older children you need to enforce consequences for bad behavior. If a rule is broken, there should be a clear consequence related to that rule, which should be applied consistently. It can be helpful if you do not expect perfection, but rather work towards a desired outcome by acknowledging the positive steps along the way. A similar system can be put in place at school to maintain consistency.
Structure and routine work (Amanda Whittington)
A child’s ADHD behaviors may be disruptive and overwhelming, but there are proven techniques to help them learn to manage their own behavior. Providing structure and routine to their day, with natural rewards and consequences, is one method that helps mitigate poor behaviors.
Our daily routine is to get dressed, have breakfast, and be ready for school or church. If this is done in a reasonable amount of time, there will be free time for my children to play with their tablets before school. If they do not get ready for school, the natural consequence is there is no tablet time. The routine and expectation–although simple–are very consistent.
Other proven techniques for managing behaviors are offering praise for good behavior, and if possible, ignoring unwanted behaviors. Both time-outs and time-ins are effective strategies for managing behavior. A therapist or behavioral specialist can help you know when to employ these strategies and how to use them.