Reader Answers: Managing Behavior Meltdowns

ADDitude asked: How do you handle a child with ADHD who refuses to do what you tell him?

An out-of-control child can blow a parent’s cool. You shared your best secrets for managing the situation—calmly.

> I talk softly, so that my son has to quiet down to hear me. His curiosity causes him to calm himself so that he can listen up.
D.R., Illinois

> When my son acts up, I take a time out. I say, “I need time alone” and go to another room for a few minutes. This technique has rubbed off on him. He now takes his own breaks when he finds himself losing control.
Jennifer, Maryland

> I talk to out-of-control children in a calm voice. Never let an upset child cause you to respond in kind.
Walter, Alaska

> Threaten to take away the thing he loves most. For example, one of my sons loves to play Xbox. When he refuses to do a chore, I say matter-of-factly, “You don’t want to set the table? Fine. You won’t be able to play Xbox today. Your choice.”
Cydne, Florida

> Issue reminders. Before each meal, I tell my son that he’ll have to clear the table after he finishes eating. This way, he isn’t surprised when I remind him again, after the meal. ADHD children don’t like surprises.
An ADDitude Reader

> Give a child choices. I ask my son to put the shoes in the closet now, or allow him to wait 10 minutes to do the chore. Guess what? He’ll often do the job right away.
Karen, New York

> I wait for my son to calm down, then explain that it’s important for everyone in the family to chip in. Most important, I don’t give up. Being a parent of a child with ADHD can be trying, especially if you have the condition yourself.
Kerri, Pennsylvania

> Have a child play in the sand. When our son acts up, I have him play in a tray of sand for five or 10 minutes. This break allows him to control his behavior.
Eugene and Janet, New Mexico

> Send your child to a designated “chill zone” when he is disrespectful or obstinate. When he is ready to control his behavior and follow directions, I give him permission to leave the chill zone.
An ADDitude Reader

> When my son acts up, I ask him to run up and down the stairs a few times, do jumping jacks, or drop and give me 10 pushups. After he’s done, he is ready to do what I’ve asked him—often without complaint.
Georgian, Minnesota

> Taking a shower seems to reset my son’s behavior. More often than not, he is in a much better mood afterward to fulfill my requests and discuss his objections reasonably and in a calm voice.
An ADDitude Reader

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