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ADHD in Children Health Center

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Disciplining a Child With ADHD

How to Use Time-out continued...

"Instead, impose a consequence that means a lot, such as no video games for the rest of the day," Allan says. "Deliver that consequence calmly and don't talk about it further. Even if he says, ‘I'll listen, I'll go into time-out now,' don't give in!"

A prompt such as a timer to signal the beginning and end of a time out may help. If your child won’t cooperate, remind him that the time-out can't start until he is quietly in his time-out spot.

Practice time-outs. Ask your child to pretend that he misbehaved, and that he is being sent to time-out. "Have them practice going to time-out without putting up a fight."

Help Your Child Succeed

Another discipline strategy for kids with ADHD (or any child) is to teach them the skills they need to succeed before they have a problem.

For example, all kids need a schedule or guidance to help them keep up with chores, homework, and other expectations. Kids with ADHD, Pastyrnak says, can't be expected to "just get it" from verbal instructions. Instead, they often respond better to a visual schedule that they can follow.

They also do better with very specific instructions. Instead of telling kids to “clean their room,” be specific, such as "all clothes off the floor," and "all books on the bookshelves.” That way, kids clearly understand what to do.

Rewards work well for kids with ADHD, but they, too, may need to be tweaked slightly.

"For example, one expectation might be to play appropriately with his sister," says pediatrician Mark Bertin, MD, author of The Family ADHD Solution.

"It's probably not realistic to set that expectation for an entire day," Bertin says. "If they mess up in the morning, you've lost the whole day."

Instead, break the day up into thirds and give points for good behavior in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. Once they’ve earned points, you can’t take them away. Some kids also need more frequent rewards. They may lose interest if they have to wait a week to earn one. Rewards can include praise from a parent or doing something special.

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