Rewards & Consequences

8 Simple Steps to a Well-Behaved Child

There are no magic bullets or instant fixes when it comes to discipline — especially for ADHD children. But follow these 8 expert tips each day and better behavior will evolve.

Just Treatment
Just Treatment
  • Spend unstructured time together. Just 15 minutes a day with your child lays the groundwork for positive reinforcement in the future.
  • Praise good behavior immediately and often. Positive reinforcement is the best behavioral tool, especially when it comes from a parent.
  • Promptly award good behavior with tokens, such as stars on a chart or coins. Once a certain number of tokens are earned, the child earns a predetermined reward, a trip to the movies.
  • Don’t ask, tell. Don’t start your requests with “Would you mind?” or finish them with “O.K.?” Instead, make directives clear and succinct: “Please pick up your coat from the floor.”
  • Insist on eye contact when you speak to your child. That way, your child can’t ignore you and you can reinforce what you’re trying to communicate.
  • Let your children know who’s boss. Child psychologist Douglas Riley says, “Kids need to know that access to the phone, TV, and computer have to be earned by showing positive behavior and a good attitude.”
  • Explain consequences for misbehavior ahead of time. These consequences should involved taking away privileges. Particularly bad conduct, such as hitting, should result in an extended time-out (30 minutes for children over 8, an hour for adolescents).
  • Stick to the consequences, no matter what. “A parent has to be 100 percent consistent in addressing bad behavior. Otherwise, the behavior may persist or even get worse,” says psychiatrist Larry Silver, M.D.