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Behavioral Plans for Children With ADHD

by Amber Keefer, studioD

Because of their difficulty following rules and instructions, many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder get into trouble more often than other children their age. These kids tend to get easily frustrated and may suffer low self-esteem. Massachusetts General Hospital School of Psychiatry notes that while symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity usually decrease as a child with ADHD moves through adolescence, some symptoms continue into adulthood. However, proper treatment can prevent many of the problems commonly associated with ADHD.

Behavior Management

Mental health professionals often use behavior management techniques to help children and adolescents with ADHD effectively manage the disorder, according to WebMD. Younger children need a consistent routine and do better when they know what to expect. Children with ADHD also need clear boundaries and structure in their lives. It's important to let your child know how you expect her to behave and then reward her when she demonstrates positive behaviors and completes tasks. As your child gets older, along with setting limits, discuss with her fair and practical consequences for inappropriate behaviors. Giving your child clear instructions and breaking down difficult tasks into simpler, more manageable steps can help set her up for success.

Role Model

Setting a positive example for your child helps to encourage good behavior, whether or not he has ADHD. However, kids with ADHD especially need positive adult role models who demonstrate appropriate behaviors even more than other children. Your ADHD child can benefit by knowing what kind of behavior he can expect from you. Likewise, you must be realistic in your expectations for your child. Considering your child’s abilities can prevent you from expecting too much and then overwhelming a youngster who gets easily frustrated as it is.


Keeping an ADHD child focused and on track can be difficult even when it comes to normal, everyday tasks. In an article for “ADDitude” magazine, author and behavioral consultant Sharon K. Weiss suggests that parents think about the things their ADHD kids need most and then prioritize their attention and efforts in helping their child. A behavior plan can be more successful if it’s directed at improving basic, short-term goals, measuring progress and rewarding improvement. The act of noting your child’s successes and immediately offering praise builds her self-esteem and can help decrease her frustrations.

Negative Consequences

Following undesirable behavior with negative consequences can reduce the incidences of problem ADHD behavior. On the helpforadd.com website, Dr. David Rabiner, a research scientist at Duke University, points out the importance of making your child understand what types of behavior you do not consider acceptable. Not only do you need to be clear about the kinds of behavior you expect, you must discuss what types of consequences your child can expect for behaving inappropriately. Consequences are not the same as punishment and should be reasonable and related to the behavior. Rabiner says a behavioral plan should include teaching your child acceptable ways to express disagreement.

About the Author

Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.

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