How to Give Instructions to a Child with ADHD

A child with ADHD will benefit from being taught to follow instructions, to think before acting and to become aware of the consequences of his actions. Strategies such as ‘1,2,3’ or ‘Stop, Think, Do’ are essential.

Aim to act immediately to intervene if the behaviour is inappropriate, to prevent it becoming out of control. On the count of ‘One’ the instruction is given, on ‘Two’ it is reinforced, and by the count of ‘Three’ the child must have complied, otherwise pre-agreed consequences come into play. By doing this it is usually possible to move on quickly to a more positive area. Avoid disciplining a child by withdrawing activities that he does well. Try to use penalties that do not damage his self-esteem or give him little chance to repair the misdemeanour.

Child with ADHD

These strategies are particularly useful with young children, as they aim to provide a very clear structure with immediate consequences that strongly counteract the child with ADHD’s tendency to push boundaries and act impulsively. Using immediate positive feedback or punishment gives the child very clear boundaries. They can be modified to operate in a wide range of situations, such as the supermarket or at dinner with friends, as well as at school.

Positive instructions such as, ‘Put your feet on the floor’ rather than, ‘Don’t put your feet on the desk’ will have more effect. Make it clear that it is the behaviour that is unacceptable, not the child. Don’t give instructions until the class is quiet and everyone is listening. Many children with ADHD have problems with auditory instructions and, if dyslexic, may also have problems with visual instructions. Therefore, write the key points down as well as discussing them. Check that the instructions or topic have been understood, correct the pupil’s mistakes immediately, and give him immediate positive feedback.

Filed Under: Lifestyle & Personality


About the Author: Alan Kennon lives a very happy life with two kids and a lovely wife. He likes to share his life time experiences with others about how they can improve their lifestyle and personality.

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