2.14 Tough Kids: Coping and Dealing with Challenging Behaviors

Some children and teens with ADHD present with behaviors that are very challenging to teachers and parents—particularly argumentative, noncompliant, and oppositional behaviors. The following tips can help defuse conflict and avoid getting pulled into a power-struggle situation:

  • Provide the structure, clarity of expectations, consistency, and positive discipline that all children need—particularly those with ADHD. Rules, boundaries, and consequences (positive and negative) are necessary (Lists 2.1, 2.2).
  • Use the proactive strategies that can prevent and minimize behavioral problems in Lists 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.6, 2.10, 2.12, and 2.13.
  • Reward appropriate behaviors and provide effective behavioral techniques such as self-monitoring, behavioral contracts, incentive programs, and others (Lists 2.8, 2.9).
  • Minimize the triggers to the child's frustration, anger, and meltdowns, and promote effective strategies for helping children manage strong emotions because of their self- regulation weaknesses (Lists 2.15, 2.16).
  • Employ strategies to communicate in ways that are most likely to improve a child's listening and compliance (List 2.4).


  • Make a conscious effort to pay attention to, compliment, and reinforce children when behaving appropriately, and try to provide at least four times more positive interactions and feedback than ...

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