8 Discipline Strategies for Kids with ADHD

These discipline strategies manage the symptoms and reduce behavior problems.

Kids with ADHD often require a slightly different approach to discipline. A few simple changes to your parenting strategies could give your child the tools he needs to manage his behavior more effectively.

By definition, kids with ADHD may have trouble sitting still, completing tasks, managing impulses, and following directions. These discipline strategies however, can be instrumental in helping kids with ADHD follow the rules.


Give a child wit ADHD extra positive attention.
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Parenting a child with ADHD can be exhausting sometimes. Their never ending supply of energy and desire to talk constantly, can tire even the most patient parent. 

Consequently, it can be difficult to find time and energy to play with a hyperactive child. However, providing a child with ADHD extra positive attention is a good investment.

Positive play time reduces attention-seeking behavior. And it will make your consequences more effective.

No matter how difficult your child’s behavior has been, set aside one on one time with your child every day. Giving your child just 15 minutes of positive attention is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to reduce behavior problems.



Kids with short attention spans need extra help following directions. Quite often, they never hear the instructions correctly in the first place.

Gain your child’s full attention before giving directions. Turn off the television, establish eye contact and place a hand on your child’s shoulder before saying, “Please clean your room.”

Avoid chain commands like, “Put on your socks, clean your room and then take out the trash,” will likely get lost in translation. A child with ADHD is likely to put on his socks and then on the way to his room he’ll find something else to do rather than clean it.

Give one instruction at a time. And ask your child to repeat back to you what he heard to make sure he fully understands.



Catch your child being good and point it out. When you praise your child, he'll be more likely to repeat that good behavior again.

Make your praise specific. Instead of saying, “Nice job,” say, “Great job putting your dish in the sink right when I asked you to.” Praise kids for following directions, playing quietly and sitting still.



Time-out can be a good way to help kids with ADHD calm their bodies and their brains. Time-out doesn’t need to be a punishment. Instead, it can be a great life skill that can be useful in many situations.

Teach your child to go to a quiet spot to calm down when he's overstimulated or frustrated. Then, he can place himself in time-out before he gets into trouble. 



Sometimes kids with ADHD exhibit attention-seeking behavior. Paying attention to these behaviors can make them worse.

Ignoring mild misbehaviors teaches him that obnoxious behavior won't get him his desired result. Ignore whining, complaining, loud noises and attempts to interrupt you.



Reward systems can be a great way to help kids with ADHD stay on track. Establish a few target behaviors, such as staying at the table during a meal or using gentle touches with a pet.

Younger kids may not be able to wait until the end of the day or the end of the week to earn a reward. Instead, they may benefit more from a token economy system where they earn points or tokens throughout the day.



When disciplining a child with ADHD, pick your battles wisely. You don’t want your child to feel as though he can’t do anything right or that he is constantly getting into trouble. Allowing some behaviors to slide can help you keep your sanity as well.

Sometimes allowing for natural consequences makes more sense rather than trying to convince a child to make a better choice. For example, if your child insists he doesn’t need to take a break from playing to eat lunch, allow him to skip lunch.

The natural consequence is that he will likely be hungry later and he'll have to wait until dinner. Eventually, he'll learn to eat lunch on time.



When parents work together with a child's teacher, it increases the chances that a child will be successful in school. Some children need modifications to their school work or to the classroom. Modifications such as being allowed extra time to complete tests or completing written work in a smaller, quiet environment can be very beneficial.

Behavior modifications may be necessary as well. For example, sometimes schools have children stay in for recess when they have not completed their homework. However, children with ADHD often need recess in order to manage their behaviors better.

A behavior management plan that carries between home and school can be helpful. A child may receive points or tokens from his teacher that can be exchanged for privileges at home such as watching TV or using a computer.


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