Kids with ADHD: Patience over punishment works best, says study
In disciplining kids with ADHD or Attention deficit hyperactive disorder, researchers believe that parents should refrain from the "tough love" approach. Read on to learn more.
Kids with ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactive disorder, need special attention. This isn't only true when it comes to education, but it is also the case when it comes to teaching them good behavior.
Those with ADHD exhibit behavioral symptoms that include impulsiveness, inattention, and hyperactivity.
A study published in the Clinical Psychological Science journal, claims that children with ADHD whose parents refrain from yelling, physical punishment, and other harsh 'tough love' parenting measures exhibited more calmness and better overall behavior.
"The idea is to change family dynamics so these highly vulnerable kids don't run into big problems down the road, including delinquency and criminal behavior," explained Psychology professor Theodore Beauchaine, the study's lead author, in an interview with Science Daily.
Researchers chose 99 parents of kids with ADHD and worked intensively with them through 20 coaching sessions, which involved learning positive parenting techniques as well as effective ways to respond to their kid's behavior.
During the same time, therapists worked with the children to help teach them more about anger management and emotional regulation.
After each session, parents and kids were brought together and researchers observed how they interacted during play sessions, monitoring the behavior of parents as well as the heart activity of each child.
Throughout these sessions, which also included monitoring them while at home, they found that reducing negative and harsh parenting techniques, like criticism and commands, improved a child's behavior.
"Negative interactions between parents and children have a big effect on kids," emphasized professor Beauchaine.
"A lot of times, these young kids and their parents don't like each other much. We strive to change that," he continued. "It's challenging for parents, because these kids can be hard to raise. The idea is not to blame parents or kids, but to look for ways to help them both."
For parents of kids with ADHD, the key is to be patient and steer clear of punishment. To reinforce good behavior, parents must also work on how they perceive discipline.
"Punishment tells you what not to do, but it doesn't tell you what to do," author and Behavioral consultant Sharon K. Weiss tells Everyday Health, adding that parents who lose their cool could unwittingly conditioning their kids to only listen once mom or dad finally loses their temper.
Instead, parents should try to establish a warning system, because kids with ADHD respond to routine. Make expectations clear, for instance, by setting a daily schedule for chores, homework, bedtime, etc.
However, it's still important to dole out some level of punishment, but it should depend on the severity of bad behavior.
Parents should not forget to follow through on discipline measures, and to effectively communicate what behavior he or she must adopt, instead of continuously stressing what your child should NOT do.
It's also important to determine how to get your child's attention, knowing that ADHD are good at tuning everything and everyone out. Do whatever it takes: turn off gadgets, get them alone in a room, or speak to them at eye level. You know your child best.