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If your child shows signs of ADHD, it may mean that she cannot control her behavior on her own. In her hurry and excitement, she may be accident  prone and may destroy property. To discipline a hyperactive child, you need to respond both effectively and constructively. If your actions are effective, your child’s behavior will improve as a result. If they are constructive, they also will help develop her self-esteem and make her more personable. The table below provides some examples of effective and constructive responses to common problems among hyperactive children.


*Note: In all these situations, try to determine what influences might cause or prolong the behavior: Is the child in need of attention, tired, worried, or fearful? What is your own mood or behavior? Remember, you always should praise your child for good or improved effort.

Child's Behavior*

Your Responses  




Temper Tantrums

Walk away.

Discuss the incident in an age-appropriate manner when child is calm.


Distract with another activity.

Talk about his behavior in an age-appropriate manner when he's calm.

Hitting or biting

Immediately remove him from situation or in anticipation of this behavior.

Discuss consequences of his actions (pain, damage, bad feelings) to himself and others in an age-appropriate manner. Try one-word time-out after brief response.

Not paying attention

Establish eye contact to hold his attention.

Make sure your expectations are age-appropriate for your child's developmental level (ask him to listen to a story for three minutes instead of ten; don't insist he sit through a full church service).

Refuses to pick up toys

Don't let him play until he does his job.

Show him how to do the task and help him with it; praise him when he finishes.


It is important to respond immediately whenever your child misbehaves and to make sure that everyone caring for her responds to these incidents in the same way. Discipline means teaching self-control. If done effectively, you will rarely need to use punishment. Do not spank or slap your child since it does not encourage her to control herself and may contribute to a continued negative self  image and resentment toward you; at the same time, this approach tells her that it’s OK to strike other people. Instead, acknowledge and point out those times when she displays appropriate behaviors (“catching her being good”), and learn to actively ignore inappropriate behaviors that are not dangerous; this approach is far more effective in the long run. Children with ADHD can be very challenging to manage and parents may find they need help or coaching in how to effectively manage their child’s behaviors.


Last Updated
Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 (Copyright © 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.