ADD/ADHD Behavior Management Help for Parents and Teachers

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

image via Flickr, Rober Arévalo

How can parents, teachers, and childcare providers best manage behavior in children with ADD?

There is no simple technique that is effective in managing all children with ADD. Each child is unique and requires an individualized approach to promoting positive behavior change.

It begins with first really knowing who the child is and then setting realistic expectations.

When we discipline ourselves to do these two things, we minimize the likelihood that difficulties arise in the first place. Furthermore, when we reflect upon the child’s unique characteristics and set realistic expectations based upon these characteristics we equip ourselves with information essential to managing problems when they do occur:

STEP 1. Knowing who the child is

To understand the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must reflect on the answers to the following questions:

  • What are his strong and weak skills?
  • What are his attentional characteristics?
  • What are his physical abilities and limitations?
  • What stresses is he facing in his life?
  • What are his basic attitudes and beliefs?
  • How does he feel about himself?
  • Who are the significant people in his life?

STEP 2. Setting realistic expectations

Based upon the child’s unique pattern of individual characteristics, we must identify the appropriate expectations for academic achievement, social interaction, and independent functioning.

Encourage Independent Functioning

Only when these two steps have occurred can we effectively manage behavior, promote responsibility, and encourage independent functioning.

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

image via Flickr, Brad Flickinger

When problems emerge, we should take the actions described below (steps 3, 4, and 5) to ensure that individualized, effective management occurs.

These steps include determining the factors which are contributing to the problem, developing a plan which takes these factors into consideration, putting the plan into action, seeing what happens, and making changes in the plan as necessary:

 STEP 3. Determining the factors that are contributing to the problem behavior

To do this, we use our knowledge about the child’s unique characteristics to determine the following:

  • What specific expectation did the child fail to meet?
  • What characteristics of the child contributed to this failure/the problem?
  • What aspects of the child’s life circumstances contributed to the problem?

STEP 4. Developing a plan and putting it into action

In order to develop an action plan, we must reflect and act on the answers to the following questions:

  • Given who the child is and the factors contributing to the problem, does the expectation need to be modified? If yes, then how?
  • How is the expectation(s) best communicated to the child so that he understands it?
  • What can the child do, think, or say to increase the likelihood he will be successful in meeting the expectation?
  • What should happen if the child fails to meet the expectation; that is, should there be a consequence and what should it be?

STEP 5. Seeing what happens and making changes in the plan when necessary

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

image via Flickr, Simply CVR

We must reflect on the success of the plan; that is, we must determine whether or not the child is now behaving more appropriately. If he is not, we must identify what went wrong by answering the following questions and revising the action plan accordingly:

  • Were the expectations unrealistic?
  • Was the identified set of contributing factors inaccurate or incomplete?
  • Was the action plan–the method of communicating expectations, the structuring the environment, the child’s strategy, and the use of consequences–ineffective?

You’re not alone in struggling to identify and cope with the behavior challenges of ADD/ADHD!  Parenting and teaching children with Attention Deficit Disorder requires extra reserves of patience, reflection, and determination.  If you found hope in these questions, Dr. Liden provides more detailed guidance in his book, Accommodations for Success: A Guide and Workbook for Creating 504 Agreements and IEP’s for Children with ADD/ADHD.

Do We Need Special Classes for Kids with ADD?

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

image via Flickr, Jirka Matousek

The benefits of special classes or tutoring for kids with ADD…

All children, particularly those who are distractible, can benefit from the low teacher to student ratios that are characteristic of special classes and tutoring services.

Furthermore, some children with ADD require tutoring or special education services when their skill deficiencies in reading, spelling, writing, or math interfere with satisfactory academic progress.

…On the flip side, how special services can harm rather than help…

However, associated learning problems seen in children with ADD are often the result of inattention rather than basic skill deficits. When this is the case, academic performance improves as attentional weaknesses are appropriately treated.

Therefore, quickly jumping to tutoring or special education services when academic problems arise can temporarily cover-up the underlying attention problem.

When this band-aid approach is used, the problem inevitably resurfaces in a magnified form later.


Have you found special classes or tutoring have helped or hindered your child?

Looking for a comprehensive, action-oriented guide to navigating the confusing and often frustrating IEP or 504 Agreement process?  Dr. Liden’s Accommodation for Success is the answer you’ve been hoping to find!  Get a copy for yourself or a friend.  No better gift you can give than a guide to school success!

How a Teacher makes a difference with an ADD Student

image via Flickr, Ilmicrofono Oggiono

image via Flickr, Ilmicrofono Oggiono

The educator’s role is similar to the role parents assume in treating ADD.

It begins by learning to understand and accept the problem, rather than making superficial judgments about the child such as “bad,” “lazy,” or “underachieving.”

A primary responsibility of school personnel and childcare workers is to function as team members in treating ADD. This involves setting appropriate expectations, clearly stating limits for behavior, giving feedback, providing effective consequences, reinforcing self-awareness and self-control, and communicating regularly with parents.

In addition, professionals in schools and childcare settings can help to develop and implement compensatory strategies and to identify and remediate associated learning problems.

As team members situated in the structured school environment, teachers and other educational personnel are in an ideal position to monitor the effectiveness of the other treatments (e.g., medical therapy, counseling, etc).

It is also possible for professionals in a childcare setting to provide help with the monitoring of various treatments.

While educators are essential team members, it is never appropriate for them to diagnose ADD or to recommend or modify medical therapies. These are medical decisions that must be made by an experienced physician in consultation with others.


Dr. Liden examines the vital roles parents and teachers play in his book, Accommodations for Success.  The 10-Step book gives parents power to create a highly personalized, effective IEP or 504 Plan.