Can spanking improve ADHD behavior?

ADHD is a disorder that includes impulsivity, that is, it is difficult to restrict one’s behavior. Therefore, one of the most important skills your child needs is self-discipline. Of course, self-discipline will increase as a person matures-but it can be taught through modeling and practice. Can spanking help develop self-discipline?

Spanking as a form of discipline in children with ADHD

Spanking is not a very effective parenting strategy for any child. It may stop this behavior at that moment, but it will not teach the child new skills or appropriate alternative behaviors. Spanking also models aggressive behavior as a solution and can lead to deterioration of parent-child relationships. In most cases, it will not prevent problematic behaviors in the long run, especially for children with ADHD who tend to live in the moment and have difficulty linking behavior to consequences.

Are negative consequences other than spanking useful?

When raising a child with ADHD, the negative consequences certainly play a role. However, the most effective way to use these consequences is in a calm and consistent way to help your child learn how to change inappropriate behavior.

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Spanking can be effective in getting children to comply immediately in the short term, but in the long run, it will not promote positive and adaptive behaviors. Consequences such as the cancellation of privileges, loss of special events, and overtime use have proven to be more effective.

For children with ADHD who have difficulty in self-regulation, active discipline is the most effective. This approach includes a structured, predictable environment, immediate and frequent feedback, shaping and rewarding appropriate behavior, and the use of incentives before the consequences.

How to avoid spanking as a consequence

Children with ADHD can be very irritating-they are very active, do not seem to learn from their mistakes, require frequent monitoring and redirection, are impulsive, reactive, demanding and moody, or tend to be aggressive or destructive. This can cause a wide range of feelings, and even the most patient parents can feel frustrated. In some cases, parents may use spanking as a last resort, especially when they feel a lack of power or control over how to manage these behaviors.

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If you find yourself in this situation, knowing that your child has special needs can help maintain a disability perspective. Reminding yourself time and time again not to personalize your child’s behavior can also help. Plan ahead how you will deal with difficult situations. When these events happen, take a deep breath—or three or four times before responding to your child. This delay can often help you think and respond with parenting techniques that are more effective than spanking.