People of all ages respond to encouragement and praise. Children with ADHD need encouragement from people whose opinions you value the most – the parents. No child of any age has ever complained to me that his or her parents gave too much encouragement and praise.

Remember that encouragement reinforces the effort, and praise reinforces the outcome. Both are important.

Here are some samples of encouraging statements:

  • "You really tried hard on that math even though you couldn't finish it. I'm proud of you."
  • "I know you didn't like reading the book you were assigned, but I like how you were trying to work your way through it."
  • "Even though you received a C, you worked your backside off on that project, and I'm impressed with all your effort."

Here are some samples of praising statements:

  • "Good first draft on your book report! "
  • "You did a great job and got your first A this year, fantastic!"
  • "You are doing so much better than last year – wonderful! "

Remember that encouragement and praise can go along way toward motivating your child to complete assignments. Distracted children need your support – big time. Make criticism constructive. Instead of asking your third-grader, "You aren't going to hand in that mess, are you?" Try saying, "The teacher will understand your ideas better with your best handwriting." Then give praise when a neat version is completed.

Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein is a psychologist with over twenty-two years’ experience specializing in child, adolescent, couples, and family therapy. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany and completed his post-doctoral internship at the University of Pennsylvania Counseling Center. He has appeared twice on the Today Show, Court TV as an expert advisor, CBS eyewitness news Philadelphia, 10! Philadelphia—NBC and public radio. Dr. Bernstein has authored four books, including the highly popular 10 Days to a Less Defiant Child (Perseus Books, 2006), 10 Days to Less Distracted Child (Perseus Books 2007), Liking the Child You Love (Perseus Books 2009) and Why Can’t You Read My Mind? (Perseus Books 2003).

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