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Parenting Strategies

Give your child more immediate feedback and consequences

Positive feedback can be given in the form of praise or compliments, as long as you state expressly and specifically what the child did that was positive. It can also be in the form of physical affection.

In some instances it will have to involve rewards such as extra privileges, or systems by which the child earns points toward privileges, because your praise will not be enough to motivate the child to stick with the assigned task. Whatever type of feedback you give, however, the more immediately it can be provided, the more effective it will be.

Give your child more frequent feedback

Children with ADHD need feedback and consequences that are not just swift but also frequent. Immediate consequences or feedback can be helpful even when given occasionally, but they are even more beneficial when given often. Admittedly, going too far with this can become irritating and intrusive for your child and tiring for you, but it is necessary to do this as much as your time, schedule, and energy permit-especially when you’re trying to change some form of significant misbehaviour.

For instance, rather than waiting to praise a child who has considerable trouble finishing homework when all of the homework is finally done, or punishing the child for not finishing after several hours when it should have taken 20 minutes, instruct the child that she can now earn points for completing each math problem, with the points adding up toward purchasing a privilege. A reasonable time limit-say 20 minutes-is also set for the whole assignment. During the work period you praise the child frequently for remaining on-task, and provide words of encouragement to keep working hard at the same time you’re tallying points.

Use larger and more powerful consequences

Your child with ADHD will require more salient or powerful consequences than other children to encourage him to perform work, follow rules, or behave well. These can include physical affection, privileges, special snacks or treats, tokens or points, material rewards like small toys or collectible items, and even occasionally money.

Use incentives before punishment

The rule of using positives before negatives is simple. When you want to change an undesirable behaviour, first decide what positive behaviour you want to replace it with. This will instinctively lead you to start watching for that positive behaviour. When it occurs, you will be more likely to praise and reward it.  Ideally, you should provide your child with 9 positive reinforcements to every 1 negative punishments.

Act, don’t yak!

Your child does not lack intelligence, skill or reasoning, so simply talking to the child won’t change the underlying neurological problem that makes them so uninhibited. Your child is much more sensitive to the consequences and feedback you use and much less sensitive to your reasoning than a child without ADHD. So act quickly and frequently, and your child will behave better for you.

Make thinking and problem solving more physical

Children with ADHD do not seem to be able to play around with mental information as well as others do when they must stop and think about a situation or problem. They respond impulsively, without giving due regard to their options.

It may be helpful, therefore, to find ways to represent a problem and use alternative solutions in a more physical way.  This way every thought gets captured rather than being lost to forgetfulness, and the child can then expand on and play around with the ideas in a physical form instead of a mental one.

Strive for consistency

You must use the same strategies for managing your child’s behaviour every time. Applying consistency means four important things: (1) being consistent over time, (2) not giving up too soon when you are just starting a behaviour change program, (3) responding in the same fashion even when the setting changes, and (4) making sure that both parents are using the same methods.


Book – 1, 2, 3 Magic by Thomas Phelan

Book – Taking Charge of ADHD by Russell Barkley

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