Many parents complain about problems with using reinforcement and consequences to discipline their child. If consequences are going to work - i.e. "if you keep up with assignments this week you get to download a new song from itunes" they must occur in sequence. Make your mantra, Connection first, Then Coaching, then Consequences.

Connection means listening to your child. You can simply ask how your child sees the problem behavior. "What's so hard about bringing home your school work folder?" Then you simply listen and show you understand his or her point of view. This alone can work wonders.

Coaching simply means that before you start using consequences, you work with your child to build skills. Just like a coach helps a player learn to shoot hoops through skill building and practice, you assume you have to help your child build skills rather than assume he or she is just trying to make you mad. For example, when your child is in a good place and you are connected to him or her, you can say,

"you know what is really helpful, if you plan ahead you get me and your teachers off your back. Just asking yourself ‘what do I need to do today to make things run smoothly?' will help you plan ahead and stop a lot of these problems."

Build on strengths rather than excessively focus on patching up weaknesses. Remember the "Gifts of ADHD" which often include creativity, emotional sensitivity, exuberance, interpersonal intuition and attunement to nature.
Some other tips for coaching your child include:

1) Try to build on her existing strengths rather than focus excessively on patching up weaknesses, ask yourself "What is right with my child?",

2) Build her emotional intelligence by validating her emotions and reflecting back to her that is ok to be mad, sad, or afraid and to get experience tolerating these emotions,

3)Transform yourself from a frustrated parent to a coaching parent. This means to try to problem solve rather than punish when the child doesn't follow directions. Catch your child doing positive actions and thereby increase those behaviors. You might do better to choose your battles by selecting three rules that if broken will have consequences. All other rules that she doesn't follow you handle by giving more information, problem solving, and recognizing the importance of practice and repetition.

For more tips and tools about ADHD visit Sign up for Dr. Lara Honos-Webb's free newsletter at Learn about individual sessions

 Dr. Lara Honos-Webb is a clinical psychologist and author of The Gift of ADHD, The Gift of ADHD Activity Book, The Gift of Adult ADD and Listening to Depression: How Understanding Your Pain Can Heal Your Life.

About the Author

Dr. Lara Honos-Webb

Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist and author of multiple books.

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