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Effective Behavior Strategies for Kids with ADHD

These strategies are designed to help you better cope with and manage the more challenging behaviors exhibited by children and teens with ADHD.

Establish a few specific, important rules/expectations that are clearly understood by all members of the household.

Praise and positively reinforce your child for following rules/expectations.

Establish clear-cut consequences (that are logical, reasonable, and fair) in advance with your child for breaking the rules.

Enforce with consistency.

Provide structure, routine, and predictability.

Set limits and let your child know you mean business.

Catch your child behaving appropriately (as frequently as possible). Immediately reinforce that good behavior with a positive consequence. This means something your child likes (e.g., praise, smiles, hugs, privileges, activities, points/tokens earned towards a reward). Use the smallest reinforcers necessary. Don't overdo it. Keep rewards reasonable -- no big-ticket items.

Establish rewards and punishments that are easy to do and as simple as possible.

Use a system of rewarding with stickers, stars, points, etc., on a chart (for one or more specific behaviors), working towards earning a prize, privilege, or other reward once he's earned enough to "cash in."

Realize that children with ADHD can't wait very long for reinforcers. Working toward a long-range goal or "pay-off" is not going to be effective. It is better to use more frequent, smaller reinforcers, but ones that are still motivating.

Change reinforcers frequently. Children with ADHD won't stay interested in the same reinforcers; they respond best to novelty.

Consequences should be enforced as immediately following the infraction of rules as possible -- usually one warning, not several.

Keep in mind to always reward or give positive attention to the behaviors you want to increase or continue to occur.

Negative consequences or punishments are also effective in changing behavior. (Use, however, far more positives than negatives.)

Punishment should not be harsh. The purpose is to teach your child through its use and enforcement.

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