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 is his temperament or personality?
- 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.
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?
- How can the child’s environment be structured in order to maximize the likelihood of success?
- 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
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:
- Was the child’s individual profile of characteristics misunderstood?
- 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.