How to Resolve Conflicts in Pupils with ADHD


Be conscious of the child, particularly the older pupil, who is unwilling to communicate or looks away when you speak, who paces around, won’t remain in his seat and has outbursts of temper. Be aware of tense, rigid body language. Stress levels rapidly rise in many pupils with ADHD and easily get out of control as they tend to have a very short fuse. It is best not to further inflame the situation by confronting the pupil. Try and read the mood of the child before choosing your strategy.

Public outbursts are counterproductive to both you and pupil so try to give him a choice and provide an alternative option to avoid loss of face. Developing non­verbal management strategies, such as finger to lips, pointing to watch, finger to ear, and so on, can help to defuse situations. Focus on the incident – not the pupil.

Pupils with ADHD

Don’t be afraid to use the ‘broken record’ technique -keep repeating your message in a calm, non-confrontational tone and try to ensure that your own body language remains calm but assertive. Tell, don’t ask. Listen to what the pupil has to say and try to divert his attention using distracting strategies. Humour – used very carefully – can sometimes diffuse a difficult situation. Remember that silence can also be very effective. Refer to rights and responsibilities and express regret for the need to punish. Varying your responses rather than being predictable can also help.

Using ‘I’, rather than an accusatory ‘you’ has more chance of success in interacting with pupils with ADHD, who can have a tendency to be especially sensitive to comment and criticism and easily misinterpret or overreact. Potentially inflammatory approaches such as, ‘You cleared up the room BUT you didn’t close the cupboard doors’ could be replaced with more friendly and positive alternatives such as, ‘I am pleased you have cleared up the room AND put everything in the cupboard.’ Remember, it is often only a change of approach, rather than a need for more resources, that makes the difference in teaching and working with pupils with ADHD.

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About the Author: Darlene Aronson holds a degree in English literature and is a college teacher in Texas, USA. She likes to help others by sharing her experiences in education and training field. She has written for many blogs as well as local magazines.

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