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How to Discipline a Child Who Will Not Pay Attention (ADD); Ritalin or Adderall Anyone?

Updated on April 3, 2018
Ericdierker profile image

Eric started working with children when he was still one himself. He taught first aid through Scouting. All the way to preaching to youth.

Keep Your Eye On The Prize

How fun to be young, please do not ruin it.
How fun to be young, please do not ruin it. | Source

Cool Seeger Rendition

Take a Good Look at Yourself

Wow is it easy to prescribe a drug to increase attention spans. It seems it is considered normal these days. Well to heck with that! Our 8 year old has ADD, like every other 8 year old on the planet. So we should just give him a drug so he gets better grades? It is just not going to happen. Note the title. We use “how to discipline” and clearly it might better read as “How to Create Discipline” in a child with ADD. We hope that you find some ideas here helpful. But I am afraid that it takes as much discipline from you as it does from the child. Or let me be harsh. If you cannot set aside an hour a day to be with your child exclusively probably better for you not to have one. And yes that hour will work for 3 children also.

We think morning and night in our synchronized world. But in a child’s world that is before and after school. And there is light and dark outside is another. However when it is recess time the children line up and are still so they can go outside to play. They generally have no reason to care what time of day it is. Is recess a carrot on a stick?

Have you ever watched youngsters cross as crosswalk on their way home from school? Slower than molasses. But if they know they have sweets and gaming as soon as they get home you have never seen a faster kid.

So, so far we have recess and treats and activities that are loved and their mind is focused. What other kind of “rewards” do children get for concentrating and getting it done? Well let me suggest that doing well with homework will have it’s reward if that is the lifestyle and mindset of the household. Joyful heartfelt celebrations for getting it done. Priority of good grades with attendant praise and adulations. Doing stuff requiring concentration like checkers and jigsaw puzzles. And you can note here that the immediate gratification is doing it with you. We sometimes forget that a child really does love his parent’s attention. We think they would rather do what they do and that makes them happy. Well let me tell you straight up. If you act relieved and happy when you are allowing your child to be baby sat by electronics you are teaching them to do electronics for the reward of you relaxing and happy.

Cool Seeger Rendition

Children are "Blank Slates"

We create the person, like it or not.
We create the person, like it or not. | Source

Choose Wisely

In our household we are half Asian. Mother is all Asian. If you are aware which you probably should be, Asians are stereotypically great students. There is a reason for that and it boils down to a priority. Doing well is not an option it is a duty to family. A pride deal somewhat. Education for educations sake is the whole idea. So now my little can concentrate for a full hour (a major rarity that it is allowed) on a game. But he cannot concentrate on math for 10 minutes? Not going to happen in our home. It is so fast and easy to see that the attention disorder is a bit like a choice depending on what is to be done. And that can be remedied by the home. The reward must be a clear choice of the value of what is being done.

Our young son cannot concentrate on a 5 minute chore. He is to sweep the sidewalk leading to our door. Believe me it is an easy chore. But in that 5 minutes he soars like an eagle with toward other thoughts. My wife and I love to swap stories of the “human machines” that do check out clerking stuff. “Please check your brain at the door and get to work”. Like little automatons they do not think they just do. Interupt this process with a question of import and they basically freak out though they are “trained” not to let you notice. Fat chance on that one. My favorite is the customer service representative who responds that the computer “says” they cannot do something, even like scratching their ear. That is both funny and scary at the same time.

Strange isn’t it. Concentration has been taking out of the loop. Some folks are mistaken in that they believe that robotically doing something for hours is concentration. No, that is a brain that has checked out from thinking. Concentration outside of prayer and meditation requires that our mental faculties respond to outside stimuli. Learning new math concepts and new vocabulary requires real concentration just like an electronic game. If they did their gaming as an automaton they would lose and lose real quickly. So why let them “check out” when it is homework time?

Children are My Biggest Blessing

Help The Little Seed Grow

Yes my eldest son took that picture someplace in Norther France.
Yes my eldest son took that picture someplace in Norther France. | Source

Let Us Build A Brighter Future

Sports, especially team sports are basically a conundrum. A real tough one to handle properly. I just love to watch preteen players in soccer. If the ball is in the other area for a time their minds just take off into never never land. Somehow it happens in seconds. But I do not think that is a disorder. It is just imagination kicking in. And that is cool.

So some things to think about:

Alone, imagination time. I suggest a half hour after school, or more maybe. That is a time when nothing need be done. But no electronics or interruptions and no observance by the parent. Let them let their brains go where they will. It is good for creativity and it is a good way for a child to relax and then they are more ready for stuff “they have to do”.

The exercise requirement may be best done together. A good fast walk around the block might be just the ticket. And again we can let their brains go where they will but together with you. Q and A time. We do ours on the walk home from school. Driving is easier and faster but it creates a notion of hurrying.

Sleep needs nothing more to be said. 9 to 11 hours is just plain required.

Discipline by example. They days of the “do as I say not what I do” are over. It does not work and probably never did. Children of alcoholics anyone?

Requirement. Just the act of day in and day out insistence on concentration actually can make a habit in a child, certainly 6 months of it. We have illustrated above that it really is a lifestyle choice for a child.

Encouragement and building up self esteem. This is so critical. Remember we are to say the action is wrong but the person is good. Screw ups while trying should never be responded to with harshness. There is no option of that. If a child does not believe they can, well then they can’t. If you yell at your child for not paying attention perhaps it is you with the problem.

The test is easy. If your child cannot concentrate on school work but can on TV and Gaming That is not a disorder. If your child cannot concentrate on a fun for them activity go see a doctor.

Please remember to fit these thoughts into your life. Adapt and adopt what works for you and your child as a partnership. No excuses if you are too busy. But if you are really too busy do not hire a babysitter. Hire a children’s tutor/life coach. I am sure you get what I mean.


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Nikki it is hard with a crazy little terror. But tried and true is seeing if he can concentrate on something he likes for 20 minutes. My 8 year old can go both ways - hardcore discipline mom or "Lets learn this together and have some fun", Dad.

      And I also note something that he is good at - drawing and insist he does it. No sweat.

    • nikkikhan10 profile image

      Nikki Khan 2 days ago from London

      You’re right Eric creativity is better and brings more interest in school work for youngest children.My little one is really hard one, it’s much harder to get him concentrate on writing for five minutes, he just writes one letter and then runs away.

      I think introducing more creative material can enhance his knowledge and can make him sit bit longer for writing.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 12 days ago from SW England

      I totally concur with your youngest's mother. Good for her (and you!).


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 13 days ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ann the mother of my three elder children and I went round and round and round on this. I think it struck a balance. A little bit for a little bit. I know that you mean about the zombie deal. For sure that is over medicating.

      We have come a long way in cognitive treatments. And the mom of my youngest would freak at a medication.

      But we don't have that issue here thank God.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 13 days ago from SW England

      It's always so refreshing to read your thoughts on children and life in general. This is so sensible and every parent should read it. We had a few children with ADHD when I taught at a school for dyslexics. Yes, they had attention problems but responded well to short tasks and other things you mention here. They also became zombies when they were given ritalin, their minds seemed to switch off, they no longer cared about life. Frightening!

      The main thing is reward for effort as well as success. Your son is so lucky to have parents like you, but then luck doesn't really come into it, does it? You've worked hard to understand how a child ticks. It's the system that needs to change, not the child.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Chris that is so fun. We had kind of a weird deal growing up. In WWII they built the bomb and ammo crates out of wood. We had a huge lumber mill so they built them near there. My dad bought enough to stack into building a large "cabin". We got the extra small crates to build things. So fun!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

      That is a good answer you gave to your wife. Creating is so much better than playing with a prefab toy. The fun is in the process of "building". I experienced that concept as a child growing up on a farm. With bales of hay, we created towers, hideouts, and tunnels all across the hayloft.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Chris. My son was "building" a toy yesterday. I stopped him and we decided that he has at least two hundred toys. But he would rather build one himself out of the boxes the toys came in. So I told his mom to keep buying the little spoiled brat more toys - so he could have the boxes ;-)

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 2 weeks ago from Missoula, Montana at least until August 2018

      Eric, you hit so many nails squarely on the head, I can't count that ADD? I believe my wife and I raised our sons in just this way. We just didn't have the electronics. They learned to make their own fun along with us. Today, they are readers, writers, and men of creativity.

      Great job on this one, Eric.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you much Dora. This is a special comment as I just read your new chapter and felt the same about putting forth ideas in a family setting. We are so blessed. Yahoo! A new day, no matter what time it is.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      So much wisdom in your family illustrations and summarily in the paragraph beginning "Encouragement and building up . . . " Thank you for sharing / teaching.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby I am so glad I have do overs. It is so fun. At 23 every thing is big deal. At 60 we get to pick and choose what is a big deal. Also it is a heck of a motivator to stay in shape and healthy.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 2 weeks ago from Southern Illinois

      I love this piece of writing. Patience is the key. BTW I wish I could have a ' do over ' When my son was in the learning phase, I had no patience. Everything was hurry up time, and they're young such a short time. I have a granddaughter who has ADD and is on medication, like you say it's what they do these days....

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I suppose ours is love and challenging his mind. But to get that done we need to be disciplined enough to make the time. Thank you Manatita.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 2 weeks ago from london

      You are doing s great job bro. ADD children tend to be talented and may grow out of it later. I wont go the Ritalin way. Im sure that you and the wife will come up with some promising plans.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Yes Linda you hit the nail on the head. His mom is working him as a third grader in math and I think he will reach fifth grade level in reading. Both seem to be fun as he loves hearing "great job. He has a book to write in about love and gratitude. His favorite theme is "I love mommy because she helps me learn".

      Clearly nurture rather than nature.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bless our parents when they exercise discipline of their own to give us the time. Sometimes I just don't feel like it but discipline gets me out of me and into the children.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 2 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, parenting is a tough gig, probably the most challenging task any of us can ever take up, if you intend to do it well. You most certainly do.

      I think that ADD or ADHD is over-diagnosed. Gabe is such a bright little man (as evidenced by your conversations). My theory is that #1 he is being a normal fidgity 8-year old and #2 he is bored because his classwork is not challenging enough.

      Love is always the answer.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 2 weeks ago from Washington DC

      Very well said and necessary advise in child raising, Eric.

      While reeding that I focused on my own early childhood and saw, with a few exceptions, how I was brought up. My being the fourth of five children the older three expected me to "jump to" when they said "let's do...." always attempted to encourage me not to do my own thing but most of the time I wouldn't give in and have my alone time. As a 3, 4 and 7 year old I remember my mother took time to play checkers, cards and other games with us and encouraged us to play other things together.

      We never had TV until I was 16 that interested me only on cold nights and seldom went to movie theaters because I wanted to observe and learn the why of things around me which eliminated electronic devices taking so much of my time. So, yes, I believe you hit the nail squarely on the head and made clear point of your presentation.


    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Aye Bill. And we must have our own discipline to act in love.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 2 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      How about we begin by disciplining with love and go from there? Parenting is a tough gig, man, but one I am so eternally grateful to have been a part of.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hi Devika, I hope Spring is beautiful for you. I would hope I got it right that it takes a disciplined parent to teach a child discipline. The title was meant to have you thinking about discipline.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 2 weeks ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      It is important to a child to see their parents are interested in their in what they do at school. Discipline is not every family for every child.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 2 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      A B Williams you are so spot on. And here is the bonus; if I sincerely do that for a time -- away goes my guilt for not paying more attention. Might sound like a trite thing but it really helps me. Plus their stories are great.

      Thank you for taking the time to come by and add so much.

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      Well done Eric.

      One thing that I would always try to do, when my children would get home from school, was to ask about their day. Not just routinely ask or yell it out from across the room, I would stop whatever it was I was doing and give them my undivided attention.

      After we'd talk about the events of their day, I'd ask about homework, papers to be signed/reviewed, etc.

      It doesn't seem like such a big deal...but it is a very big deal to them!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 weeks ago from Shelton

      Unquestionably one of the hubs that should be read today.. whatever happened to positive reinforcement? Is there a prescription for that. Eric, you've touched on a tender subject and handled it very well.. your suggestions are dead on... and reassuring.. bravo my friend