The job description for Parent is overwhelmingly long. One of the trickier tasks involves helping to guide children’s behavior in a constructive and effective way. It requires vast amounts of patience, self control and perseverance. To be successful, it needs a pocket full of tricks able to be applied in a variety of planned and surprise circumstances.

Here are suggestions and tips to keep in mind to make these encounters more successful:

1. Set the Example

Although sometimes it takes all the energy a parent has, it is important that the adult set the example. The models children with ADD and ADHD have at home teach them how to deal with conflict out in world. This includes: .

    -Voice at a normal volume
    -No violence
    -Respectful words

2. Talk About the Behavior Not the Child

Everybody makes mistakes. Children with Attention Deficit Disorder are dealing with symptoms that limit their ability to succeed. They are also learning how to behave and are prone to pushing the envelope to see where the limits are. It is a part of their development.

This envelope pushing can get under parents’ skin. Sometimes it is best for parents to take a few minutes to calm down before they try to resolve a conflict. Avoid labeling children with phrases like: “You are so irresponsible!” “Bad Girl!” “Stop being so whiny.”

Instead talk to them about their actions:

- “That decision could have gotten you hurt.”

- “When you make a mess and don’t clean it up, it makes me feel frustrated.”

- “Please don’t whine. Tell me what you need in a regular voice.”

By focusing on the action, children are clear that you love them, but not their behavior.

3. Natural Consequences Instead of Punishment

Natural consequence are outcomes that would logically occur because of the children’s behavior. Different from punishment which is at times arbitrary, natural consequences help children with ADD and ADHD solve the problem they created. For consequences to be effective they should be immediate. Waiting until tomorrow will lose its connection to the event. Here are a few examples:

Situation 1: Son brings home a progress report with poor grades.
Natural Consequence: Boy needs to study more.
To help eliminate distractions, parents remove the video game out of the child’s room and into the living room. More study time is scheduled into the child’s routine.

Situation 2: First grade teacher calls to say that child is treating another student poorly.

Natural Consequence: Child needs to make the other student feel better.
Some of the child’s free time is used to make an apology note and batch of cookies for the other student.

4. Be Proactive

Many kids with Attention Deficit Disorder have their “difficult moments” at the same time of day or in the same situations. Anticipate these situations and try to head them off at the pass. Think about those tough times.

    • When do they happen: right after school, before bedtime, getting ready for school, when the meds are wearing off?
    • Where do they happen: at the store, at family parties, in the kitchen?
    • What is causing it: boredom, hunger, wants attention, too much sugar, tired?

Once these answers are identified, it is much easier to avoid the problem. Sometimes it is as easy as keeping snacks in your purse, so they don’t get hungry. Other times we realize that we have unreasonable expectations for our child’s developmental level or ADD and ADHD symptoms. We may need to change the situation or avoid it all together for a time. The effort required to identify the problem and avoid it will be well worth it in lowered frustration levels for all involved.

5. Be Consistent

After a full day of working outside or inside the home, parents need time to relax. Sometimes they don’t have the energy to deal with behavior issues. Unfortunately, choosing not to manage the situation gives children with Attention Deficit Disorder a mixed message. They think “hmmm. Yesterday, Mom made me stop playing on the computer until I made my bed. Today, she is telling me to stop, but she hasn’t come in my room to check. Let’s see how long I can get away with this!”

    • Make rules that you deem worthy of using your limited energy to uphold.
    • Make the commitment to follow through with those rules.
    • Use some of these tricks to guide your child:

o Choice

Children with ADD and ADHD need to feel like they some control over their lives. By providing children with options you are giving them some control over the situation which leaves you with a win-win solution. Make sure to give only options that you are willing to follow through with. Also giving one good option and one horrible option that has nothing to do with the situation, is invalid. It is just manipulation and the child has no control. Here is an example of how Choice can be used effectively and ineffectively:

Situation: Your child doesn’t want to wear a hat to school on a cold day

Do: Give him a variety of possible options:
“Do you want to wear your hood or your hat?

Don’t: Over exaggerate the situation:
“You have a choice. Put your hat on or you can’t go outside to play the whole week-end.”

Here the parent is punishing themselves by having their child cooped up all week-end. The child feels no sense of control because there is no alternative “decent” choice in his mind, and taking away playtime outside for the whole week-end is not proportional response.

o Help Children with Attention Deficit Order Anticipate

Children with ADD and ADHD are creatures of habit. They like routine. Changes in routine and moments of transition from one activity to another often provoke an issue. Help avoid that by:

    - Talk to children about the change in schedule. “Tomorrow, there is no school, so Grandma is going to come over and play with you while I am at work.”
    - Help them anticipate problems and decide on a solution. “We need to go to the store. Sometimes we have problems in the store because you want to touch everything. What can we do to avoid that problem?” If the child is young you may need to just tell them your solution. “So you will sit in the cart and help Mommy find what we need.”
    - Help children anticipate transitions by notifying them that they will need to do something else. Giving them a few “heads up” keys them into the change and smoothes the transition. “Sweetie, dinner will be ready in 10 minutes. Please start to finish up.” Followed by “Dinner in 5 minutes” and finally “time to clean up dinner is ready!”

o Make it a Game

By using your creativity, you can make a boring chore more fun.
Try using funny voices or acting like a particular character to ask them to help you with the dishes. “Ahoy Mate-y. Help with de dishes or walk de plank!” Keep using the voices while you do the chore and it will be even more fun and successful.

When your young child is slow to go brush her teeth, it might be quicker to pick her up in your imaginary limousine. Bow to her. Open the door for her. Encourage her to wave to her fans as you drive to the bathroom sink. The newness makes it part of the success, so be creative and arrive in different types of transportation each night!

o Whisper

No one likes to be yelled at. Many kids with Attention Deficit Disorder tune it out. Try whispering. It gets their attention more quickly.

Author's Bio: 

For more help with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, visit and fill out the checklist specially designed to help you do an initial assessment of your child’s learning problems. Your child CAN have a positive classroom experience this year. Be sure to check out our educational videos about ADD Attention Deficit Disorder and ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder.