Always Ask "Why?"
Children with ADHD are born with differences in their brains that manifest in distinctive ways in each child. The commonality is that these differences cause challenging behavior, often due to a lack of inherent skills like problem solving and adaptability. "Challenging behavior occurs when the demands of the environment exceed a kid's capacity to respond adaptively," says Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., Founding Director of Lives in the Balance and author of The Explosive Child and Lost at School. "We now know that [these children] are lacking skills, not motivation...skills like flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving. That knowledge makes it possible for us to help these kids in ways that are much more humane, compassionate, and effective."
Fortunately, the problems are highly predictable, so Dr. Greene advises that parents and teachers proactively and collaboratively solve them through a process he calls "Plan B." Plan B consists of three ingredients: The Empathy step (where caregivers gather information and understand the child's concerns or perspective on a specific problem); the Define the Problem step (where caregivers enter their concerns into consideration); and the Invitation step (where the adult and child brainstorm realistic solutions that will address concerns). "Motivational procedures -- such as sticker charts and time-outs -- don't teach kids the skills they're lacking...nor do they solve the problems that are reliably and predictably setting in motion challenging episodes," Dr. Greene says.