Parenting a Child With ADHD? The Secret to No-Shout, No-Tears Discipline

Spanking and yelling don’t help kids with ADHD learn better behavior — in fact, harsh punishment can lead them to act out more in the future. Try these calm, collected ways to deal with discipline instead.

As challenging as it sometimes is to do, taking a positive approach can be more effective in teaching your child to act her best. “Work hard on the positive side of discipline first,” says Kenny Handelman, Ph.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist specializing in ADHD and the author of Attention Difference Disorder. This means rewarding good behavior. But more importantly, it means participating in activities you both enjoy to deepen the bond between you and your child. While spanking has been shown to negatively impact bonding with parents, a positive approach ensures that, when it’s time to discipline your kids, they’ll be more receptive to your authority, not afraid of you.

Just as medication isn’t the single answer to treating ADHD, being positive isn’t the only avenue to disciplining your child without yelling — and without tears.

No-Shout No-Tears Strategies

Make Like a Magician

William Dodson, M.D., a Colorado-based psychiatrist who works with families challenged by ADHD, advises parents to plan ahead for possible meltdowns. Pick a time when you’re both feeling good and calm, and plan an escape route if things go sour.

Be Cool

Handelman suggests dealing with the immediate incident, but not to do so with anger. “Often, kids with ADHD are so sensitive to the anger, they may not hear what you are saying about their misbehavior. Or the child may begin arguing, and things will escalate. If you get angry, you’re lowering the chance she will learn from the discipline moment.”

Think Like a Cop

When a policeman pulls you over for speeding, he doesn’t yell at you or tell you how awful you are. He says, “Do you realize how fast you were going? License and registration.” You did the crime, you get the punishment. “Many kids with ADHD don’t know what’s expected of them and what’s going to happen,” says Handelman. “Make sure your expectations are clear and consistent.

Know Your Child

Learn how your child is hardwired, and adjust your discipline strategies. When something is bothering your daughter and causing her to act up, it may be unbearable for her. Recognize and respect your child’s hypersensitivities as part of her ADHD nervous system.

Are You Part of the Problem?

If your child wasn’t adopted, chances are, one or the other (or both parents) has “gifted” their child with ADHD, a highly heritable condition. Many adults with ADHD have quick tempers and bouts of impulsivity. Experts believe that this is a recipe for disciplinary disaster. Despite your best intentions, you might spank your child against your better judgment. Make sure that your own ADHD is being treated adequately.

Stick with the Game Plan

Parents give up on a new discipline approach too soon, says Handelman. “Kids fight hardest when parents start something new,” he says. When [a new strategy] becomes a routine and a child realizes he can’t argue his way out of it, he will stop fighting you.” Two or three weeks isn’t enough time to establish new rules.

Excerpted from “The Secret to No-Shout, No-Tears Discipline” in ADDitude Magazine. Read the full article online for additional details on each of these strategies.

Source: ADDitude Magazine | The Secret to No-Shout, No-Tears Discipline, | Copyright © 1998 – 2021 WebMD LLC

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