Tips for Parenting a Child with ADHD (cont.)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
In this Article
- What is ADHD?
- What are the symptoms of ADHD?
- What should I do if I am concerned that my child might have ADHD?
- What are some behavioral treatments and parenting strategies for parents of children with ADHD?
- Think positively
- Define schedules and routines
- Set clear rules and expectations
- Give clear instructions
- Discipline, rewards, and consequences
- Use time-out effectively
- Ignore, within reason
- Develop organizational aids
- Eliminate distractions
- Set small, attainable goals
- Focus on one or two challenging behaviors at a time
- Find areas in which the child excels
- Promote a healthy lifestyle
- Show your unconditional love
- Take care of yourself
- ADHD resources
- Find a local Psychiatrist in your town
Use time-out effectively
Particularly for younger children, time-outs can be an effective consequence for negative behaviors that serve the additional purpose of removing the child from an overstimulating or stressful environment. A time-out is also an immediate consequence that is likely to be more effective than a delayed consequence. Of course, a time-out should never occur in a frightening or dangerous place for your child. If in public, try having a time-out for a few minutes in a quiet corner or in your car (with an adult present). Many experts recommend that time-outs not last longer in minutes than the child's age in years (for example, a five minute time-out for a 5-year-old). Longer than that may be too difficult for the child to complete, leading him or her to be more likely to defy doing the time-out at all. That in turn will likely lead to a vicious cycle of parent and child frustration and therefore increasing conflicts. If your child is able, after the time-out, it can be useful to discuss or model the appropriate behavior for the given situation, asking or explaining to the child how the situation could have been handled more positively.
Ignore, within reason
In some situations, ignoring an undesired behavior may be an effective behavior modification technique for children with ADHD. Obviously, behavior that is risky or injurious to the child or to others cannot be ignored, but behaviors such as whining, nagging, and arguing can sometimes be best ignored until the behaviors stop. Many children with ADHD crave attention from others, even if it is negative attention in the form of yelling, criticism, shouting, or scolding. Refusing to provide any attention at all to the child who is behaving inappropriately can be effective if done consistently. For the child who gets increasingly loud or disruptive (escalates) when ignored, another way to respond may involve calmly and quietly telling the child that when their voice is calm and quiet the conversation can resume. For some children, the parent may need to remove themselves from the room as long as the child is safe, to help the child calm down. Whenever the behavior stops, respond to the child as usual in a firm but kind, non-angry way.
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