ADHD Parenting: Setting Limits for Children


Some parents are lucky to have kids with gentle temperaments and who are eager to please. However, many parents of ADHD children do not have this luxury; they have strong-willed children who repeat mistakes, argue back, and test their parents’ patience. It’s not uncommon for such parents to feel frustrated and at a loss with what to do; they feel like “bad parents” or they take it personally and believe that their child is acting out on purpose. In most cases, neither is true. Here are some ADHD parenting tips that will help you set limits and establish effective discipline.

State limits clearly and simply

Desired behaviors that follow should be stated clearly, firmly, and simply. It’s important that you focus on the behavior rather than the child so that he or she will fee valued rather than rejected or judged. A simple statement like “No biting, that hurts your brother” should be enough. Make you to say this in your “normal voice” to avoid aggravating your child.

Be firm about consequences

It’s not enough to state your expectations clearly; you have to be clear and firm about the consequences when the rules are not followed. Consequences are critical to discipline because they teach an ADHD child to listen to you, take your word seriously, and be more cooperative. They are also more effective if they are consistent, logically related, and performed immediately.

Try a no-consequence approach

But what if consequences don’t work on your strong-willed child? You could try talking to your child and explaining how his behavior affects others. For instance, if your child makes a mistake and talks too loudly in the movies, gently and quietly say, “Josh, we need to talk in our indoor voice because other people are watching the movie.”

Let your child blow off steam

Children with ADHD have boundless energy that can lead into bad behavior if they do not have an outlet for their excess energy. Help your child let off steam by providing opportunities for physical activities like jumping or running; put up a trampoline in the backyard or let your child run around in circles. Other ways to diffuse aggression include after-school sports, working with clay, or participating in other physically active games. Remember, your ADHD child is more likely to behave and be cooperative when doing projects or games he or she enjoys. Give your child a variety of activities and experiences to enjoy.

Choose your battles

Each and every misdeed does not have to lead into an argument or confrontation. Try to identify themes in your child’s behavior and address problems in this manner. For instance, rather than talking to your child separate times about forgetting to do chores, not doing homework, or losing things, discuss the topic of responsibility and use these instances as examples.

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