Treating ADHD: Learning New Behaviors

A child with ADHD often acts up and tunes out. But you can show your child new ways to react to the world. This process takes time and practice. Working with a counselor may help.

Mother trying to get young obstinate daughter to set the plates on table.

Coping skills

What things upset your child? Perhaps having to do chores or share toys sparks poor behavior. Try to work with your child each day. Assign a simple task. Or talk with your child about the tips below. Show your child how to respond to frustration and anger in useful ways. This can help him or her learn self-control.

Reinforcing success

Children with ADHD have trouble learning from past events. Positive feedback helps make lessons stick. Offer praise when a job is well done. This helps your child mark the moment in his or her mind. Place a sticker on a reward chart to celebrate each success.

Parent’s role

Here are some ways you can help:

  • Teach coping skills after your child has taken a dose of medicine. Learning is more likely to happen at such times.

  • Praise your child’s success. Offer a smile and a hug, a positive comment, or a small reward.

  • Set clear rules. Explain what will be taken away if those rules are not followed. Then, follow through.

  • Try to stick to a routine. Prepare your child for any change in that routine.

  • Help your child stay focused. For instance, avoid crowded, noisy places if they bother your child. Also, limit choices.

Child’s role

Here are some hints for your child:

  • Try out new ways of dealing with people and places that bother you. When you are upset, you might talk, draw, write, throw a ball, or spend some time alone.

  • Act like a STAR: Stop, Think, Act, and then Review.