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Improving Your ADHD Child's Behavior

If you're having trouble encouraging your ADHD-diagnosed child to behave, you're not alone. Parents with children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often wish their child would behave better. Sure, it can be frustrating when it seems like your child is tuning you out, but it's important to consider the circumstances of why he's doing so. In many cases, children with ADHD or ADD aren't purposely ignoring you, they're just distracted. If you're frustrated, that's okay. You may want to take a time out then approach your child's behavior issues in a different way.

With a little determination and patience, you may be able to get your child to improve his behavior. Try these tips:

  • Go with the flow (to an extent). Spend 15 to 30 minutes a day with your child doing whatever he wants to do. Unstructured play can be liberating for your child and give him a break from the "rules" he works so hard to follow every day.
  • Set rules. Make sure you set clear-cut, easy-to-follow rules with consequences. This will help your child stay on track and know what's expected of him. A behavior chart is a great way to set expectations regarding what behaviors are acceptable. Use a point system so he can earn rewards for good behavior.
  • Reward positive behavior. Make sure you praise your child's good behavior immediately. This will help your child become aware of the exact behavior they're exhibiting, and hopefully, repeat the behavior more in the future. Let your child with ADHD or ADD know that you appreciate all his efforts. Keep a consistent pattern of earning and spending reward points. Don't let his points accumulate – encourage him to exchange them for rewards. A great rule of thumb is to require that some points be earned each day before any rewards can be "bought" with his points.
  • Get everyone on the same page. Help everyone in the family become organized, not just your child with ADHD. Every family member should try to stick to a daily schedule and put things back where they belong. This will cut down on confusion and help your child with ADHD concentrate on the task at hand. Remember to take out a short amount of time each day for unstructured play.
  • You don't have to do it alone. Yes, you may get frustrated, and, at times, feel defeated. There are many resources available to help you and your child. Physicians, school officials, loved ones and caregivers can provide your family with support. Ask school administrators if they provide any special accommodations for children with ADHD, such as sitting closer to the front of the room, longer testing times, etc. You may also want to join a support group or seek counseling for guidance and/or advice.
  • Show him how it's done. Be a positive role-model for all your kids, whether they have ADHD or not. Show your kids how you handle situations with grace and stick-to-itiveness, even when things go awry. Children are constantly studying your reactions and then modeling their behavior after yours.

Never, Ever Compare

The most important thing you should remember is that comparing your child with ADHD to other children is extremely unfair and will only serve to degrade them. Let every single child strive for his personal best and reward him for a job well done. Remember to breathe and take in quality time with your child.