ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is a condition whereby individuals find it hard to concentrate, and is characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity and lack of attention. It is most commonly caused by genetics, and it is something that thousands of children live with.
If you have a toddler with ADHD it can be extremely hard to know exactly how to go about disciplining them without causing them to go into a state of hyperactivity. There are actually some key methods that are the best for discipling a toddler who has ADHD, and this article will explain each of these to you.
A very common method of discipline that parents use on their children is to give them a time-out when they have misbehaved. This is a great method to use on ADHD children as it can give them time to calm themselves down and relax. You can even stay with them during the time out to help soothe them.
The key is to make a comfortable place for them, away from things that could overstimulate their brains, such as electronic devices, and take them over to the spot when needed. It can be used as a punishment, or as simply a way to relax them when they are starting to act hyperactively.
#2 Reward System
Another widely used form of discipline is to set up a reward system for your child. This means giving them a treat, or another form of reward when they behave, and taking something away from them (or limiting their use of something, for example their iPad) when they misbehave. A great option is to have a star chart where you can give your toddler a gold star when they behave well, with a certain treat in store for them when they get a certain amount.
This is great for a child with ADHD as it gives them something to focus on. However, it is best not to have too long of a wait for the treat, as it can make them get frustrated and bored. You could even have little goals they have to achieve each day where they then get a reward at the end of the day, rather than it being a matter of dragging it on throughout the week or month.
#3 Pick your Battles
A key thing when disciplining a toddler with ADHD is to pick your battles. They are likely to have lots of times when they may have an episode where they get overstimulated or hyperactive, but some will be a lot smaller and won’t last as long as others.
So, the best thing is to ignore those milder misbehaviours and only negatively discipline them when they do something more major. This helps because it has been proven that giving a child any sort of attention, even if negative attention, will encourage them to keep behaving in that way.
So, if you give them attention every single time they do something naughty, then they are more likely to keep acting in that way because they know it gets a response.
#4 Praise Them for Good behaviour
As important as it is to discipline your toddler when they misbehave, it is also so important that you praise them when they behave well. This will then encourage them to behave in that good way more often. Furthermore, too much negativity can cause them to misbehave even more and act more impulsively and hyperactively. So, make sure you are being positive as much as you can, and this will reflect in their behaviour.
#5 Spend One-On-One Time with Them Every Day
A great way to help keep your toddler calm and prevent them from having episodes of hyperactivity and overstimulation is to make sure you spend at least some quality one-on-one time with your toddler every single day.
Yes, their seemingly never-ending supply of energy can be exhausting, but giving them that direct attention gives them some time in the day when they can channel their energy and brain onto playing something with you and talking with you.
Often toddlers with ADHD can act out as a way to seek attention from you, and so taking time to focus all your attention on them can help to reduce the amount they exhibit this attention-seeking attitude.
#6 Use Simple, Easy Instructions
A toddler with ADHD will find it extremely difficult to follow lists of instructions and it can actually cause them to misbehave and start to go into a hyperactive mood. The best way to instruct your toddler on what to do is to break things down for them step by step. Set them a short time goal for them to do a certain task. This makes it more manageable and they are more likely to comply with this.
It is also a good idea to show them what they need to do rather than verbally explaining it to them, as they can get overwhelmed with a lot of talking. So, for example, if you want them to brush their teeth, you should do it too and show them that is what you want them to do. This is a lot easier for them to understand and break down in their minds and helps to keep them calm.
Using little reminders that they can see, such as an egg timer or a kitchen timer, is a great way to remind your child what it is they need to do to prevent them from getting distracted.
So, these are the 6 simple and very effective ways that you can discipline a toddler with ADHD. It is all about keeping things positive, straightforward and helping them to stay focused on things that will cement a good attitude and behaviour. Your children are an absolute blessing, and you should show them how much you love them no matter what.
Have fun with them and embrace their different character traits however tough you might find them. These tips will help you when things do get a little out of hand and should limit the amount of times you will have to scold your toddler so that you can have more of those happy and fun times with them.