Exactly what should happen when an ADD child fails to meet an expectation?
An individual who fails to meet a realistic expectation should experience a consequence. Consequences are events that occur as a result of our actions. They provide us with the opportunity to reflect on the appropriateness of our behavior.
Parents and teachers have an important responsibility to think about how best to use consequences to promote positive behavior change, improve responsibility, and encourage independent functioning. Some general guidelines are helpful in selecting effective consequences:
- Consequences should occur only when expectations are determined to be realistic and appropriate, that is, achievable for a given child.
- Consequences must be negative. This is true despite the fact that this notion goes against the grain of what feels best for most of us. It is critical to remember that a negative consequence does not mean a physical punishment or a highly punitive measure. Rather, a negative consequence is simply an undesirable event.
- Consequences must be individualized. What is negative for one person is not necessarily negative for another. For the shy, withdrawn child, missing recess, where the expectation is to play with other children, may not be negative at all. On the other hand, to the outgoing, active child, missing recess may indeed be negative.
- Consequences must be short term. When given a long-term consequence, most children, and particularly ADD children, will do one of three things: forget why they have received the consequence, adapt to the consequence so that it becomes meaningless, or badger the authority figure until the consequence is removed or negotiated, in which case the authority figure becomes less powerful the next time around.
- Consequences should be immediate. Although this is not always possible, it is best that a consequence occur as soon after misbehavior as possible. Immediacy helps to link the consequence with the misbehavior.
- The magnitude of the consequence should fit the misbehavior.
- Threatened consequences must occur.
- Consequences should occur after the first instance of an inappropriate behavior rather than after one, two, or three warnings.
Did you know The Being Well Center is a team of experts who are here to support parents and teachers? In addition to doctors and PAs, we are counselors, nurses, dietitians, and behavioral therapists. We support the whole person through all of life’s demands.
Our current blog series is excerpted from Dr. Liden’s best-selling book, Pay Attention!: Answers to Common Questions About the Diagnosis and Treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder.