Ask the Experts

Setting Realistic Behavior Expectations at School

Should kids with ADHD be held the the same behavioral standards as students without the condition? Our expert explains.

Q: Should my daughter’s teacher have the same behavioral expectations of her as he does for kids in his class who don’t have ADHD?

Most teachers do not receive training to work with children with ADHD. Therefore, it is difficult for your daughter to meet the same standards that the teacher sets for the rest of the class. The first step is to make sure your child is evaluated for ADHD, in order to be eligible for supports and services. This includes putting a behavior plan in place.

Children with ADHD have difficulty understanding behavior and consequences. I suggest that you talk with the counselor or another appropriate person in the school to explain that. If your daughter sees a therapist outside of the school, scheduling a meeting with everyone would be a good way to discuss other options.

Talk about how hard it is for your daughter to meet behavior expectations she is not capable of achieving or does not understand. The teacher views her ADHD symptoms as misbehavior. At some point, when ADHD students do not ever “get it right,” they give up. Her discouragement may turn to deliberate misbehavior.

Become your child’s advocate and talk with the teacher about what works and why. She can be given more tries than others to earn a good behavior card, but it is better that students work their way up to rewards rather than work their way down to punishments.