"Keep Your Hands to Yourself!"


My six-year-old can’t keep his hands to himself. He’s bright and curious, but his teacher complains that his “grabbiness” interferes with class. What can we do about this?


Ask the teacher to keep track of how many times a day this behavior occurs. Then, set a daily goal (framed in positive terms) for your son to reduce that number by 20 percent.

For example, if he is “grabby” about 10 times a day, set a goal for him to “keep his hands to himself with eight or fewer reminders a day.” Set up a way for the teacher to communicate with you about this goal—it could be as simple as writing “yes” (he met the goal) or “no” in his assignment notebook each day.

Have the teacher keep a tally on a sticky note on your child’s desk, as well, so he can begin to self-monitor this behavior.

Reinforce this behavior modification at home. On days when he meets his goal, allow him to participate in an activity he already likes, such as playing on his computer for 30 minutes.

The big difference is that he now has to earn this activity. If he doesn’t meet his goal, tomorrow brings another chance. Over time, lower the target to six, then four, then two reminders.

Karen Sunderhaft is a teacher who has focused on ADHD and learning disabilities since 1999. She coaches individual students and speaks frequently at ADHD and LD events. She can be reached at karen@sunderhaft.com.
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