10 Steps to Discipline Your Child with ADD

Do you think your child has ADD. Maybe you know he has ADD?  The impulsive behavior can be enraging. Getting him to listen is challenging at best. How can you stop the chaos?

As a mom who learned my child was not just forgetful, and was not just ignoring me when I gave him directions, I know getting a diagnosis of ADD or an behavioral disorder can be unsettling. By the time we turn to the experts for a diagnosis, we have exhausted all our efforts and don’t know what else to do to help our child’s behavior. After getting a diagnosis of ADD for my son, I was shocked by the loneliness I felt. When I left the psychologist’s office with nothing more than a few paragraphs of very general recommendations thrown in at the end of a 20 page report, I was no longer so sure the experts were going to tell me what to do.

“The school will know how to help him succeed” I told myself.  “The doctors will have words of wisdom as to how to help him.” I thought. They both had words, and one in particular kept being repeated “Ritalin”.  Arguably, this and other medications have helped many kids with behavior disorders, but I was convinced there had to be other things to try first. Left uncertain of a plan to help my son, I started learning all I could about helping kids with ADD.

When I came across the idea of rethinking ADD and the negative associations that come with misunderstood acronym, it seemed like a logical place to start. If I could change the way I think of my son’s disruptive and unpredictable behavior maybe I would treat the behavior differently, and he would respond more positively.

I learned to recognize my child’s behaviors as an outside picture of what was happening inside his brain and it helped me to stay calm and minimize arguments.  So, let go of  expectations and ignore other people’s judging eyes. Here are ten positive steps you can take to calm things down at home and motivate your child to cooperate:

  1. Remind yourself that your child is wired to act impulsively and is not trying to be challenging.
  2. Explain what ADD is and assure him it is not a learning disability. Kids often feel having ADD makes them”dumb” or “weird”.
  3. Make statements about a negative behavior not about him, such as “Hitting is not allowed ever.”
  4. Praise what he does right and point out what went wrong as in: “You played the game well but throwing the cards is not a good way to lose.”
  5. Avoid humiliating him by having a private signal to give in public when you see him losing control.
  6. Stay unemotional and make calm statements like “Let’s take some time to cool off.”
  7. Teach him to recognize a loss of focus & remind him of the task at hand. “It looks like you have lost focus. Let’s put away the toys and finish up that math sheet.”
  8. Acknowledge his feelings when he has lost control with statements like “I can tell that you really dislike what your brother said to you.”
  9. Model good listening by making eye contact and verbally acknowledging what he expresses; and ask that he do the same.
  10. Verbally praise his successes & strengths and acknowledge progress rather than only discussing negative behavior.

There are many things we can do as parents to help our child with ADD feel better about himself. Calmly remind yourself each day that your child’s unpredictable and inattentive behaviors are symptoms of a true behavior disorder. Each day strive to show him you love him for who he is. Tell him you believe that together you can learn how to effectively manage these behaviors. He’ll feel secure knowing you’re in it together. Check back for my next post with more on building a team with your child with ADD.



Born of Frustration: Finding needles in many haystacks

I am a mom of a child with ADD, who struggled for years to find answers to my questions. Learning to really understand this and other behavioral disorders  was challenging, but figuring out what to do seemed impossible.  Kate4Kids is a place to share the best ideas, most helpful resources & products, and best strategies for raising a child with ADD.  Your child’s behavior can improve and you can once again, have peace at home. He wants to succeed and you can be the one to help him make it happen.

One morning on the way out the door to school, I asked my older son who was 6 and his younger brother age 2, to get their shoes on and meet me at the front door. When the 2 year old showed up with his shoes on first, I was a little surprised, but when he leaned over and picked his brothers shoes up off the floor and ran to deliver them, I felt a tinge of sadness. “Mommy say put your shoes on” he called out in his broken toddler language. “And go by door!” he continued. It clicked that this was happening too often and that the 6 year old should be able to follow directions better than his 2 year old brother. What was happening?

I took a few days to pay close attention to my 6 year old’s behavior, particularly his ability to follow directions. I noticed he was able to complete one step at a time. But, when I gave him multi-step directions, he forgot all the steps.  Sometimes, he would look up at me bewildered, and was unable to get started on step one. Paying close attention, I noted his consistent failure to answer me when I called his name, particularly if he was engaged in playing or a tv was on nearby. I met with his teacher and asked for her observations, then I expressed my concerns to our pediatrician. She agreed that my son seemed to be lagging behind in his ability to follow instructions, and suggested we have an evaluation by a neuro-psychologist. Before I left, she handed me a book on what she suspected to be the problem, that changed my life. “A Mind at A Time” by Dr. Mel Levine.

If you can relate to the scene I described, or if you have a gut feeling that your child’s impulsive or inattentiveness may be a sign of a behavior disorder like ADD, this book is a good place to start. A respected leader in his field, Dr. Levine puts the science of what ADD really is, into terms we can all understand. He emphasizes that the behaviors we see on the outside, are telling us what is going on in our child’s brain; or what is not. I was lucky enough to get through several chapters of this insightful book before our evaluation appointment with the neuro-psychologist and arrived armed with new words to describe behaviors and patterns that I had observed in my son for much longer than I had even realized. Get your child’s teacher to share her observations with you and talk to your family doctor. Then, head for an expert in ADD like a psychologist or neuro-psychologist who works with lots of kids for an evaluation.

If your child is always the last one out the door and is usually missing his coat, if he is struggling to complete tasks or even start his homework; if you worry about his unpredictable behavior and frequent outbursts, take heart. We’re going to explore great resources like “A Mind at A Time” and try out truly amazing strategies that will boost your child’s confidence. We’ll learn to rethink a diagnosis like ADD and celebrate all the great qualities that come with it. Keep reading Kate4Kids.