How NOT to Discipline a Child with ADHD

6 min read
How NOT to Discipline a Child with ADHD

If you are a keen observer, you will notice that children with ADHD react differently to punishments as compared to normal children.

Some parents who are not coping with their child’s outbursts often react with aggression and frustration when disciplining their child. In fact, there are cases where parents increase the intensity of the punishments if they notice such reactions. The danger is that intensifying the punishments can only escalate the problem because such children tend to react with determined defiance.

Experts have studied the impact of punishment on ADHD children and suggested what should be done and what should be avoided while punishing such children. Here are some of their views.

1. Do not shout at ADHD children while punishing them

Various research findings inform us that ADHD affects the children’s ability to control their impulses. When you shout at them, the flurry of impulses is likely to cause immediate negative reactions and a total refusal to obey the terms of the punishment. For example, if the child hits her brother and you want to condemn the act, yelling at her will not achieve anything. You are more likely to win her cooperation if you speak to your child about what happened and why, and calmly ask her to go and apologize to her brother. The key here is to remain calm at all times when disciplining a child with ADHD.

2. Make the Punishment Brief but Effective

According to experts of ADHD, children born with the condition cannot cope with punishment over long time periods, such as being told to go and sit in a corner or on a chair. If you want the child to reflect positively on the punishment, then you must find a way of executing the punishment within the shortest time possible. Paediatricians and psychologists suggest that the punishment should not go beyond two minutes at most. If it lasts longer, your child will become more inattentive, or act defensively.

3. Do Not Punish them for Certain Mistakes – They Lack the Capacity Improve

If your child has ADHD, there are certain mistakes that they make, which can never change because they are part of their nature. For example, such children may never concentrate as you help them with their homework. They may disrupt family meal times or annoy guests in your home. As a parent or guardian, you should know that such actions arise out of their natural weaknesses with regard to paying attention. However, you can minimize the impact of such mistakes by encouraging them to play outdoors whenever the situation indoors requires some calmness.

4. Find a Reason to Praise the Child Shortly after the Accident

Most children react negatively whenever they are punished by their parents. Such reactions are usually based on the feeling that parental love should be unconditional regardless of their conduct. The problem is worse for children born with ADHD. According to children experts, it is important for parents, teachers, or guardians to follow up their punishments with praises, rewards, and other positive gestures. Such a strategy is helpful in preventing the overflow of erratic reactions during the punishment. Besides, the balance of praise and blame helps the child to begin developing ideas about the meaning of reward and punishment.

5. Avoid Physical Punishments

Clumsy physical pushing and shoving of a child with ADHD during punishments can only lead to disastrous results. Many parents have often learned about this truth the hard way. The moment you become rough with your child, there is a high likelihood that their reaction will be more disastrous. They may react by throwing objects at the television, breaking windows, or hurting themselves and others around them. Therefore, it is advisable to administer punishments that do not subject them to physical pain. Physical abrasion ignites the release of negative reactions in your child.

6. Avoid them When they Get Excessively Aggressive

In some cases, your attempt to get your child to cooperate may hit a dead end. When the ADHD starts to show with full intensity, you should just leave them and stay far away even as you keep watch on the varying patterns of his or her tantrums. Pretend that you are fully absorbed in some other activity around the home. Naturally, children born with this condition tend to increase their agitation when a lot of attention is directed towards them. However, when they notice that nobody is interested in their chaos, they begin to act positively again. This is the point when you should intervene with an appropriate action.

7. Consider Punishing the Child in Private

Could you imagine what it might feel like to be flogged in public – I would think it’d be pretty humiliating. That is almost what some children with ADHD feel when you reprimand them before other children. A lot can be achieved if the punishment is discussed and executed in private. For example, if the child commits an act that requires some punishment, you might consider summoning him or her in a private room and ask them to go and fix the problem. There is a higher chance of winning the child’s cooperation if you make them understand that you do not want other children to laugh at them, or to see them as they carry out their punishment. Public humiliation is usually an aggravating factor for children with ADHD.

It is crucial for parents of children suffering from ADHD to acknowledge the unique weaknesses in their nature, especially with discipline. The type of discipline, the timing, and place should be considered in a way that enhances its effectiveness. Children with ADHD are naturally predisposed to peculiar character flaws and sensitivities, which may come to the surface at the time of the punishment. Finding reasons to praise the child shortly after reprimanding them is one of the most effective ways of keeping their impulses in check.

What do you find is the most effective way of disciplining your child with ADHD?

Jody Allen
About Author

Jody Allen

Jody Allen is the founder of Stay at Home Mum. Jody is a five-time published author with Penguin Random House and is the current Suzuki Queensland Amb...Read Moreassador. Read Less

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