Maintaining Discipline

Maintaining Discipline in Children with ADHD


Maintaining discipline in children with ADHD can be a challenge for both parents and teachers. It is important to reinforce the positive and explain the strategies behind the rules and repercussions.

Focusing on the Positive

Positive comments can help improve the behaviour of children with ADHD. Focusing on the good can also be an effective way of managing potential conflicts. Parents and teachers should not consider discipline to be a method of punishment for bad behaviour, but as a way to teach the child about responsibility and positive actions.

  • Encourage the child as soon as you notice he or she has improved his or her behaviour
  • Note boundaries between good and bad behaviour
  • Reduce stress at home and in the classroom by speaking calmly and not overreacting
  • Use reward systems already in place for good behaviour

Reward Systems

Below are some ways to implement a system for managing discipline at school and at home:

  • Never act in moments of anger. Give yourself a few moments to accept what has happened, and think of the best way to address it.
  • Maintain serenity. When you speak calmly, it is easier for your child to understand and listen.
  • Be concise. Children with ADHD often “disconnect” or accidentally stop listening. Carefully choose a few words to explain yourself.
  • Explain clearly that the behaviour in question is unacceptable. Your child must understand what went wrong.
  • Get on your child’s level and maintain eye contact. A seated chat across a table is perfect.
  • Ask your child to repeat what you just explained. This way, you know he or she understands and is clear on what to do next time.
  • Explain the consequences of not meeting the expectations beforehand. This is so your child is not surprised when something is taken away or he or she is asked to take a timeout.
  • Apply a reward system. If your child does not repeat the behaviour that necessitated the discipline, immediately implement the reward system and explain the reasons why he or she is being rewarded. It is important that your child understands the reason for the reward.
  • Talk up the reward. Strengthen the kind of reward that your child may receive if the conduct is not repeated and he or she is well behaved.
  • Only punish bad behaviour, not your child’s personality. Sometimes it’s a case of kids being kids, and they are just trying to figure out who they are.
  • Do not overreact. Try to understand your child’s behaviour, and if you decide a punishment should be involved, do something proportionate. For instance, if you are a parent and send your child to his or her room, do so for an amount of time that makes sense and is not excessive.

Talk to your child. Choose goals together so your child can keep in mind what he or she has to do correctly in order to receive a reward. It could be waking up on time and getting ready for school, completing homework without letting distractions become an issue, or getting good marks at school or receiving good feedback from a teacher or coach.

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