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Positive Discipline for Students with ADHD

written by: Cheryl Gabbert • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 7/12/2012

Children with ADHD tend to need frequent redirection. Positive discipline techniques are better for children with ADHD than constant nagging and negative talk. Here's how to use positive discipline techniques when teaching children with ADHD.

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    Why Positive Discipline?

    Positive discipline is a great tool for teachers of children with ADHD. Even though these children need frequent direction, teachers need to consider that children need a form of discipline that lifts their self esteem as it provides long term results. Positive discipline is nothing new. It's been around for many years. It is, however an effective way of disciplining children with ADHD in the classroom. Discipline should encourage proper behavior, while still showing the child respect. The following positive discipline tips work well for children with ADHD, and will encourage responsibility as well as better behavior.

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    Positive Discipline Tips

    1. Show the student lots of attention when assignments are complete, when you notice him on task, or when you see him following directions. More attention should be given to positive behavior than negative.

    2. Make sure the child hears you making positive statements to others about him. Many times, children with ADHD receive a lot of negative input, and hearing positive words will do wonders.

    3. Instead of raising your voice to get a point across, purposely lower your voice when talking to a child about a negative behavior. The child will be calmed, and will pay more attention to a calm, quiet voice than a loud one. Also, it's always best to get down on a child's eye level.

    4. When you need to speak to a child about a behavior issue, take the child outside of the classroom to speak to him. Don't embarrass the child in any way. The child will be more likely to hear what you are saying if you are one on one.

    5. Sometimes kids with ADHD, as well as all children, need a break. When you notice a child getting overly stimulated, it's time to redirect the child into a quieter activity, or call for "break time". This doesn't speak "punishment" as much as time outs, but you are still removing him from the situation until he calms down.

    6. Reward responsible behavior and completed assignments. When the child completes an activity or follows directions, a reward is in order. This could be a small sticker, trip to the treasure chest, or other positive reward. We all love to be rewarded, after all. Kids are no different.

    7. Make sure to remove variables in the environment that are sure to lead to poor behavior. Avoid negative behaviors when necessary instead of constantly nagging the child. If your student with ADHD is constantly distracted by what is going on outside the classroom, don't place his/her seat near the door. You may also want to keep the door closed in order to prevent the behavior. Measures that can be easily followed to minimize the potential for bad behavior should be followed by the teacher when possible.