Why Punishments Don’t Work for ADHD Kids (And What Works Better!)

Ok, go read this article Why Punishments Don’t Work for ADHD Kids (And What Works Better!) and then come back to read this post.

First, thank you to my sister for sharing this article with me. I’m glad that I can share this with you guys! So, if you liked the article, close your eyes and throw her some love. Yes, the frog needs love!

Ok, this is an article about ADHD kids, but I want to put in my 2 cents in that I feel this is how you should handle all children. And, in truth, much of this applies to engaging with adults too. It really works. It holds the expectations, it gives them a chance to learn, it avoids violence and it is less stressful for all parties involved.

That said, I want to warn you that this is going to be a long and opinion heavy blog. Bail out now if you don’t want to become over saturated with thoughts based on my personal experiences from both my home life and my work life. Seriously, it’s alright if you run. I won’t be offended… Great! Glad you decided to stay!


This is the hardest part. The article didn’t get into why this is so important, so I decided I’d throw out some thoughts on the matter.

  1. The most important reason is that if you react to bad behavior from your child while you are angry, you risk being inappropriate or unsafe. We have all said stupid shit that we really didn’t mean because we were angry. It isn’t helpful and can break down relationships. Anger is the number one driving force behind abuse. Read that sentence again. And one more time, please. And that is the primary reason for not trying to engage with others when you are angry.
  2. Don’t let them push your buttons. Sometimes, people just want to get an emotional response from you. Kids are famous for this. If that is what they are looking for, you will gain no ground but reacting to their button pushing. By reactions, I refer not to what you feel, but to what you DO.
  3. It reduces the audience. This is important for several reasons:
    1. Energy feeds energy. The more people, the more energy. If you want the person that is upset to calm down, you need to reduce the energy.
    2. No one wants to be embarrassed. Everyone deserves to have dignity. Even when they are imploding, exploding or are having a complete nuclear melt down.
    3. A reaction indicates that they have an audience and thus gives them more to respond to on top of what ever started the crisis.
  4. Ask yourself:
    1. Would I be able to calm myself if I was being yelled at or threatened?
    2. How can you expect others to be able to?
    3. When someone said something hateful to you just because they were up set, did it hurt less?
    4. What is the primary objective?

When people are really upset, they aren’t rational.

A true emotional crisis means that the emotions have over whelmed them. It does not matter if you do not feel it is a crisis. It is to them.

Methods to physically restrain a child are only appropriate if they are  a real, physical danger to themselves or others.

This is also true for adults. Restraining someone is the act of reducing a persons ability to move or access their body freely. If someone is in IMMEDIATE danger of hurting themselves or others, do what you can to stop them. Don’t let a kid run out in the road; tackle them if need be (you plowing into them will cause less damage then a car). Snag that knife from  your 3 year old.

The first and most important job a parent has is to keep their child safe.


But restraining your child is something that should be avoided if at all possible. Being restrained is scary and makes a person feel helpless which often evokes anger. Remember that it isn’t about proving that you have more power.

If you are caring for a violent child, I strongly recommend that you receive restraint training. This will teach you how to restrain your child with a reduced risk of hurting them or yourself. It will also offer you guidance in how to approach your child after a restraint has happened.

They are social beings, and if they have the skills necessary, they do not choose to be unhappy, angry, and to disappoint their parents!

Who chooses these things? People seek happiness before all else. Your child is no different in this regard. Anger can be scary, cause a sense of guilt and isn’t a fun feeling to have. Being a disappointment sucks. We have all disappointed some one in our lives. The shame of that burns deeply.

Dr. Greene asserts that challenging behaviors occur when the demands being placed on a child exceed his capacity to respond adaptively due to lagging skills.

The reason that society does not allow children to make their own choices is because it is understood that they do not have the appropriate tools for appropriate decision making. So, why do you treat them like they should already have those tools? And remember that everyone develops and learns in a different way. If you have more then one child in your life, try not to compare them. They are not made from a mold.

 When a child has a problematic behavior, you have three options with which to respond.

  1. Plan A: “Force him to do what you want.”
    1. This is sometimes a needed intervention.
    2. Remember that safety comes before all else.
    3. But force is a last and desperate measure; the last ditch effort to save some one.
  2. Plan B: Work on a solution together
    1. Children are not stupid.
    2. IQ does not increase as you age. What ever IQ you have, you were born with.
    3. Just like adults, children have varied intellectual abilities.
    4. DO NOT ASSUME THAT A CHILD CANNOT LEARN OR UNDERSTAND YOU (ok unless you literally speak different languages).
  3. Plan C: Ignore the behavior.
    1. Seriously, choose your battles.
    2. If you ride your child’s ass for everything they do you will create resentment and despair. And why try if you can’t do anything right any way?
    3. And not every undesired behavior is important.
      1. Chewing gum with their mouth open is low on the priority list when compared to hitting a sibling.
      2. Keep it in perspective.
      3. Ask yourself “in the long run, does this really matter?”

Does It Really Matter?

Remind yourself what being a parent is about. Being a parent is a job, a responsibility and a blessing. When your child is doing something you dislike, ask yourself: Does it matter? In the grand scheme of things.

Going to use an example here. It’s gross and something I see all the time. Here goes!

OMG! Your kid is picking their nose. And even worse, they are eating their boogers! o.O

Is it unsafe? Not likely. If they have their whole finger and half their hand up their nose while blood is gushing down their face, well, yeah that’s bad. You probably shouldn’t let them do that. But 99.99% it will cause them no harm. So, why are you getting worked up about it? Yeah, it’s gross. Yeah, it’s embarrassing. But in the grand scheme of things, is it worth fighting about? Probably not.

Parental Embarrassment and Shame

This is real and it’s powerful. Resist peer pressure. Yeah, that guy sitting in the table next to yours is gaping at your kid for picking his nose and is giving you an evil stink eye. So what? Fuck it. Why do you care what judgmental and ignorant strangers think about how you parent your child? They know nothing about you or your kid.

Listen only to trusted people who know both you and your child. These are the people that are going to give you a perspective worth listening to.

Your parents don’t know more about raising your child then you do. Yes, you should listen to their advice (unless they are an ax murderer) but you are not obligated to follow that advice. Anyone (your parents, your kid’s teachers and even a psychiatrist) do not have all the answers. Neither do you. And that’s OK.


About piggie4299

I am Myself I am a Wife Blessed with love I am a Mother Endowed with divinity Through the power of creation I am a Daughter Brought into this world With unending hope And the promise of the future I am a Sister Made fierce and strong While forged with kindness Protector and protected Spiraling together forever I am a Nurse Holding out the hands of healing And offering the sick comfort And the dying love Knowing that through this All things are healed and made whole I am a Writer Creating myself and world Sharing the inner depths of humanity Bringing together the divine And the humble mortal I tell the story of the Goddess And am remembered forever

Posted on May 2, 2015, in Medical, mental health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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