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Setting Limits and ADD
Setting limits is an effective way to discipline children with Attention Deficit Disorder. It can be thought of as a statement that says, "If you do this, then this will be the result." The child knows what will happen. He can depend on the parental response. "When you do your homework, you have an hour of computer time." This means that the parent is in charge of the computer. The child does not use it whenever he wants to, for as long as he desires. He uses the computer when his homework is completed and for as long as his parent says that he can.
Discipline and setting limits happens over a variety of settings. "If you throw a tantrum at the store, we will leave right away. You will go to your room when we get home. You will not have any computer privileges if you tantrum." Notice the word "if" in that statement. That lets the child know that the choice is his. "When," as in, "When you throw a tantrum at the store," tells the child that you expect him to throw a tantrum. Language is important in setting limits. So is only setting those limits and consequences that you are willing to enforce.
Sometimes parents threaten to take the TV or computer privileges away for a month if the child does something that the parent doesn't like. Then, after a day, they let the child have the privilege back. That child has learned that he can whine and stomp around, sulk and pout, and then the parent will relent. The child has learned to bully the parent into giving him what he wants, regardless of the behavior that child has shown. Parents need to say what they mean and mean what they say. Never, ever, threaten or give a consequence that you are not willing to carry out. When a child calls your bluff, they learn that they can do as they please, and you will not consequence them for their actions.
What kinds of consequences work best? Those would be natural and logical consequences. A natural consequence follows naturally from an action. "If you throw and break your toy, then you won't have that toy. I will not buy you another toy if you break that one." Logical consequences are tied to the specific action, but are not natural. In the scenario above, the parent could also reference a logical consequence, " You will need to spend your own money to buy yourself another toy."
Logical consequences can be as simple as, "If you eat three cupcakes, you won't have dessert tonight." That's logical. The child has already eaten too many sweets. He has had more than his share of the cupcakes. A parent can enforce no dessert for one night and not feel too badly about it. However, if the parent had said that the child would have no dessert for a month that would probably not have been enforced. It was too draconian for the offense of eating three cupcakes at once.
What does all of this have to do with Attention Deficit Disorder?
Punishment is not especially effective for kids with Attention Deficit Disorder. Setting limits is a better way to help kids learn to manage their behavior. An easy way of thinking about setting limits is that every action has a consequence. You can learn to set the stage for more positive and fewer negative consequences for your child. Start at an early age to teach your child to manage his own behavior. How early? When the child first starts walking and talking. As your child grows into a teenager, you’ll be glad that you put in the time and effort to teach him positive ways to take charge of his own behavior.
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