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How to Handle Inappropriate Behavior with ADHD Kids: Positive Reinforcement
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Dr. Bob Myers tells EP Editor Elisabeth Wilkins why it's not a good idea to surprise kids with ADHD—and how to work with them to improve their behavior using positive reinforcement.

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I have 13 year old son who never wants to get a no for an answer. Is there anything to do to correct this behavior?

Comment By : Ben

I have been hearing so much that you should reinforce positive rewarding with good behavior with an adhd child. Is it, that a child with adhd, KNOWS what they are supposed to do and not to do and just want to cause conflict or is it their minds want allow them to do what is right? I am questioning this because I have a step son with this and we have issues everytime he is with us, but his mother says they do not have this at her and her boyfriends home. Can they be so different at another place and only act up with us? Or is adhd very consistent? This child is adopted and has been given pretty much everything all of his 9 years here in America. He has an anxiety disorder along with adhd and very demanding, arguementive and violent at times. Could this be more of a learned process or could it be both?

Comment By : tricia

i Have A Twelve Year Old Who Has Become Out of Control. His Med Work Sometimes. He Hates His Little Sister But He Always Wants To Play With Her. He Blames Her Everytime He Gets In Trouble. He Never Do What Is Asked Of Him. He Acts Like He Is Two Years Old. My Only Option Now Is To Send Him To Military School. My Method Does Not Work. When He Is With Other People He Is The Best Kid, But When He I At Home He Mad all The Time Unless He Is Playing. My Story Is So Deep It Would Take Days Telling Them,,,Thanks For Letting Me Vent

Comment By : mstoyota

* Dear Tricia: Not just ADHD kids but all humans as well as animals respond much better to encouragement and reward than they do to discouragement and punishment. Affection and bonding are critical to development and also foster cooperation and productivity. It’s difficult for ADHD kids to focus, plan ahead and remember, so completing tasks is often harder for them than their peers. They also have a tendency to over-react to stimuli, especially when it is emotionally charged. ADHD kids also tend to be more anxious. Thus, the fear of making mistakes or not doing something fast enough can cause a meltdown, especially when they are worried they will be punished if they fail. The anticipation of a reward however, does not heighten emotional arousal and thus makes it easier for them to stay on task while motivating them to put forth the extra effort to do well. ADHD children often have extreme difficulty adapting to changes in their environment. This may explain some of the differences you see. By maintaining a similar approach to providing emotional support and behavioral limits from one environment to the next, transitions can be much easier and smoother and thus less traumatic.

Comment By : Dr. Bob

I have a 14 yr old son, he had always struggled in school, when he was smaller, he would cry to me at night and say "mom you just think I'm not trying, I am, but by the time I get it they move on- too fast" I have had him tested, I have ask for Mod. at school and have been told NO, he's just not doing his work. Now he really doesn't care, he feels like they don't care. His mouth, he's very defint and that's his biggest problem, he gets in trouble at school and ends up in AEP,because he does better there. Now, he had been expelled and I have to meet w/ school board tomorrow and tell them WHY I THINK THEY SHOULD NOT EXPELL HIM FOR REST OF YEAR. What's happening to our schools, they all want straight A students, that can sit there and keep their hands to them selves. Good luck. I just started this program, 4 days ago, I sat him down and told him how things would be, I explained that I knew this was a change but this is how it would be, if not, he would be responsible for the outcome, we've had him to try us, but it is better. The school wants me to send him to a Boot Camp and I have told him this. ALl his friends are BAD and I don't care for them, well he had 2 that's ok. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, my sister has heard it all. Jolene

Comment By : jolene

Jolene: Do not give up or give in! Can you imagine how you would react if you felt left behind and you couldn't keep up? My daughter had a learning disability and every year, I had to go to school and let her teachers know that I was interested and involved in her education. How they treated her was indeed my concern. If she needed extra time on tests or extra time to complete an assignment, I made sure she got it. She knew I cared and so did her teachers. Does your son have something that he is good at or is interested in? How can that translate into a career choice? Is there someone at school that can identify with him and connect? Encourage him even if no one else does and be his biggest supporter! I always let her take responsibility for her own actions and did not make excuses for her, but I always supported her. Today, she is enrolled in a nursing program. If she suceeds or fails, it is up to her, but she will always learn from her experiences and I can't or won't take that away from her. Another daughter went her own way and moved out at 18 and into a terrible situation. She moved in with a drugie, became an unwed mother and lived on welfare. However, no matter where she was, I was. I made sure she also knew she wasn't alone and that she was loved. After her walk on the wild side, she came around. Seven years later she has graduated from college, gotten married and is a home owner with $16,000 in savings. She has vowed to never to live on welfare again. BOTTOM LINE: BE CALM AND BE SUPPORTIVE FOR TOMMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY! Do not make excuses for your son's behavior and let him take ownerhsip of his problems. I am sure he will find his own solutions with a little help from his friend (you). He will be stronger because of his struggles.

Comment By : Kathy

my son was diagnoised with adhd and i'm trying to find a specialist here in my town (hattiesburg,Ms).can you tell me where i can go to find one?

Comment By : kristi

This messages are very encourageging for us parents. Now I know that I am not alone. I have been there for my son in the good and the bad times. Eventhough sometimes it seems that the fustration is going to drive me crazy. I LOVE my son and I know he Loves me too. Good Luck and Be an encourgement to your kids!!

Comment By : olga


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Responses to questions posted on EmpoweringParents.com are not intended to replace qualified medical or mental health assessments. We cannot diagnose disorders or offer recommendations on which treatment plan is best for your family. Please seek the support of local resources as needed. If you need immediate assistance, or if you and your family are in crisis, please contact a qualified mental health provider in your area, or contact your statewide crisis hotline.

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