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BellaOnline's Attention Deficit Disorder Editor

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Against Punishment for Kids with ADD


I was talking to a man tonight about discipline. He told me that too many kids don't learn respect today. In his opinion, they aren't punished enough and are allowed to run wild. He believes that there are kids who don't respond to or understand anything except punishment. Well, I think he and I will need to agree to disagree. I know that setting limits and discipline work a lot better than punishing, in the long run! What's the difference between discipline and punishment? How does setting limits affect discipline? What does all of this have to do with Attention Deficit Disorder?

Discipline will often take place before the act. The child is responsible for his actions. Discipline is designed to let a child see his actions as choices. He is free to choose positive or negative behavior, but understands that there are consequences for each type of behavior. Positive behavior leads to pleasant consequences. Negative behavior leads to disagreeable consequences.

There is a huge difference between what parents do for punishment and discipline. Punishment is when a parent does something painful, often physical, to a child in response to an act by the child that the parent doesn't like. That punishing act is supposed to make the child "think twice" before he does the original behavior again. In many cases, punishment stops a behavior quickly. In punishment, the parent is in charge of the child's behavior. The child behaves to avoid the parent's punishment. How does punishment work with kids who have Attention Deficit Disorder?

There are twenty years of research findings about the effects of punishment that apply to kids with and without Attention Deficit Disorder. Punishment, especially corporal punishment is believed to cause many unintended effects on the punished children. They become more aggressive toward people in their social and familial circles. Depression is related to physical punishment of children, as is anxiety. It is also a cause of problems with drugs and alcohol. Physical punishment is correlated to abnormal brain development in kids who have endured this punishment. Listed below is a resource to read more about the effects of punishment.

There is also research supporting the use of potent rewards for positive behavior. These rewards stimulate the brain to pay attention. This might be one of the reasons that kids with ADD can play marathon video games. They have instant feedback and rewards. Included below are links to full-length articles that explore the effects of rewards on kids who have Attention Deficit Disorder.

Punishment doesn't work in the long run for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. With discipline, the child is responsible for his behavior. That doesn't mean that the parent is opting out and letting the child run wild in the world. The parent is responsible for setting the stage for the behavior. Parents control the conditions of the child's life. Guiding the child to make good decisions is a prime duty of parenthood. Setting limits is a key to this.



Resources: Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Physical punishment of children potentially harmful to their long-term development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 February 2012.

Related links: The three Related Links below this article may be of interest to you. There is research-based information about how rewards affect kids with ADD.

NEWSLETTER: I invite you to subscribe to our free weekly newsletter. This gives you all of the updates to the ADD site. Fill in the blank below the article with your email address - which is never passed on beyond this site. We never sell or trade your personal information.



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Attention Deficit Disorder and Rewards
Rewarding Children and ADD
Tangible Rewards to Intrinsic Rewards and ADD
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Content copyright © 2014 by Connie Mistler Davidson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Connie Mistler Davidson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Connie Mistler Davidson for details.

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