Spending time with family around the holidays can be wonderful, and for parents of kids with ADHD it can also be stressful. When you’re visiting family and friends that you only see a few times a year you want more than ever to have things go smoothly. It’s a tall order when your child’s routine is disrupted, and when he or she is so excited about the holidays! As a parent, when you are stressed, your child’s minor misbehaviors – the ones that you would typically let slide – may really get under your skin. So, you’re more likely to notice the things that your child is doing wrong, and overlook the things that he or she may be doing right. As a result, your child receives even more attention for his or her misbehavior, and this attention – even though it’s negative – often leads to an increase in challenging behaviors.
Making an effort to notice your child’s positive behavior, and praise him or her when he or she is doing something right can help break this cycle. When you “catch your child being good” you set them up for success. You start to lay the foundation for positive family interactions, you build his or her self-esteem, and you increase the chance of seeing more positive behavior in the future. In order for praise to be most effective, and actually lead to a change in family dynamics and your child’s behavior, you’ll need to be strategic about how and when you deliver the praise. The following guidelines will help you get off to a good start:
Shift the balance in your home, from only commenting on the negative to really praising the positive. Noticing your child’s good behavior, and following these praise guidelines will go a long way in helping things go more smoothly this holiday season and throughout the year. Over time you’ll see even more good behavior and improved family relationships as your child continues to seek and receive more positive attention from you.
Mary Rooney, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco. Dr Rooney researcher and clinician specializing in the evaluation and treatment of ADHD and co-occurring behavioral, anxiety, and mood disorders. A strong advocate for those with attention and behavior problems, Dr. Rooney is committed to developing and providing comprehensive, cutting edge treatments tailored to meet the unique needs of each child and adolescent. Dr. Rooney's clinical interventions and research avenues emphasize working closely with parents and teachers to create supportive, structured home and school environments that enable children and adolescents to reach their full potential. In addition, Dr. Rooney serves as a consultant and ADHD expert to Huntington Learning Centers.
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