Behavior & Discipline

ADDitude Asked: What is your best strategy for not overreacting when your child misbehaves?

If you blow up when your child melts down, take a page from these parents’ books. They found strategies to keep a lid on their anger in tense situations.

Keep Cool, Calm Waters, Blue Sky
Keep Cool, Calm Waters, Blue Sky

ADDitude asked: “What is your best strategy for not overreacting when your child misbehaves?”

I take three deep breaths before responding to bad behavior, so that I can speak calmly and rationally. -Tonia, Texas

I give myself a time-out. I tell my child that I need to “regroup” until we can talk together calmly. -Catherine, Virginia

I speak in a whisper. My son has to stop what he’s doing to pay attention to what I’m saying. -Angie, Maryland

I pause and observe my body’s and mind’s emotional state before I react. I am just learning to do this, and, to neurotypical people, it probably sounds weird, but the more I step back before reacting, the more effective a parent I am. -Rebecca, Maryland

I change the subject, task, or environment. After everyone is calm, I revisit the situation and give gentle redirection. -An ADDitude Reader

To keep from yelling when I get my nine-year-old great grandson up for school, I invite one of our cats into his room, and start talking to the cat. At the same time, I tickle my grandson’s feet, while I drink my tea. He always gets up so he can pet the cat. -Carol, Florida

When my child misbehaves, I go through a checklist: Did I give him a second chance? Did I create the circumstances for the misbehavior? Did I let him come up with a solution on his own? Can I stick to an immediate consequence? And last on my list is: Have I expressed my gratitude for having this talented, lovable child? -Esther, California

I remind myself that he cannot help it – it is not under his control, and he is not perfect. He is trying his hardest and sometimes he messes up – as we all do. -Jamye, Colorado

When my seven-year-old ADD son misbehaves, I put him in time-out, and I close my eyes and hold my breath for 10 seconds before slowly breathing again. Time-out for my son is always in the same room or space where I am (otherwise, he becomes more aggressive and destructive). If we are out of the house, time-outs might take place on the side of the road next to the car, or in a supermarket cart. The golden rule during time-out is that no one speaks or responds to him, no matter what he says. For every additional swear word or aggressive act, he gets another minute. -Adrienne, Australia

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