ADHD Behavior Change
Techniques of behavioral management and modification
Children with ADHD may need extra help learning how to behave. This is true even when a child takes medicine for ADHD. Children with ADHD often have problems with paying attention to details, remembering things like rules, or thinking ahead before doing something.
Parents of children with ADHD need to use special techniques to help their children learn. Many parents have found positive change in their child’s behavior by adopting a few behavior management techniques. These modifications are easy to implement at home and in school. Here are some ideas that have worked for many parents of children with ADHD.
A. Giving Directions
- Always make sure that your child is really paying attention when you are giving instructions or directions. You may need to turn off the TV or video game. Ask them to repeat back the directions.
- Make sure your child is looking directly at you when you speak. Encourage “active communication.”
- Give your child clear and simple instructions. Tell your child to do one thing at a time. Your child may not remember what you said. So, try not to say too much at once. As each task is completed, your child will feel good about following instructions.
- Break down your instructions into simple steps. Once the child has completed the first step, go to the next one.
B. Planning Ahead
- Help your child learn to plan ahead. Give them plenty of warning about what is going to happen and when. Do not assume that your child will remember what you told them yesterday, last night, or even an hour ago.
- Follow a routine. Your child can learn to set expectations. This helps the child remember and prepare for the next activity.
- Make sure your child knows in advance if there is a change in plans. This is very important if the child will not be doing something fun or exciting.
C. Giving Praise
- Be sure to give your child positive comments when they follow directions. Warm praise from a parent is a child’s most important reward.
- Encourage success when your child learns something new or completes a task. If you want your child to learn something new, make a game out of it.
- Give a small and healthy reward when your child succeeds. The reward can be as simple as reading a special story or going to the park.
- Try not to buy rewards when a child does as they are told. This can lead to the child behaving well only when they are getting a prize. The best rewards for the child are positive interactions with a parent.
Many of these techniques are simple and easy to implement. Clearly set limits and consistently follow through with repercussions for poor behavior. But it is most important to provide praise and commendation for positive behaviors. Your child can learn to live and adapt with ADHD. You can too. Following these simple techniques can improve the harmony in your home.
1. Barkley, R. (2000). Taking charge of ADHD: The complete, authoritative guide for parents (Rev. ed.). New York: Guilford Press.
2. Barkley, R., & Benton, C. (1998). Your defiant child: Eight steps to better behavior. New York: Guilford Press.
3. Rief, S.F. (2005). How to reach and teach children with ADD/ADHD (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.