Students in classroom

Best Strategies for Behavior Management for Students with ADHD

As an educational professional, classroom management is one of the most important parts of your job. Whether you’re in the classroom or overseeing other teachers, you need to know how to make each class run like a well-oiled machine.

Not all students are alike. Students with certain conditions, like ADHD, require more attention and care than the rest of the classroom, and they may make your job taxing if you’re not prepared.

You need to prepare yourself with the best strategies for behavior management to best serve all of your students.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to go, we’re here to help. Keep reading to start developing your effective classroom management strategy.

Post and Review Classroom Rules

While you should always have your rules available for your students to see, this is even more important if you have children with ADHD in your classroom.

At the beginning of the year, write your rules down on the board while you’re going over your syllabus. This is a great opportunity to ask students for input to let them feel like they have some control over the situation. Discussing rules and accepting input is also a great way to start building relationships with your students.

When you have an established list of rules, make sure that you make an eye-catching rule poster. It can be colorful, and the text should be large enough that a student can see it from across the room.

Sometimes students with ADHD need reminders. You can gesture to this chart whenever someone is acting inappropriately.

Keep an Organized Schedule

Children thrive on routines, and children with ADHD are no different. Having structure is one of the best things for people with ADHD. A structure allows less room for distractions and a clear path forward.

When it comes to your schedule, it’s a good idea to have a visual representation of it somewhere in the classroom. It may be a good idea to have it near the clock, so your students can see what they should expect throughout the day.

Sometimes having a destination in mind from the schedule is enough to keep students with ADHD motivated and on track.

Be Careful With Seating Charts

Children with ADHD are prone to talking in class, even if it’s just to themselves. Because of this, you need to make sure that you put together your seating chart with that in mind.

When you have a student with ADHD, start with consistent seating. It’s tempting to allow students to sit where they want or to move children around throughout the term, but this could be too distracting or stimulating for children with ADHD.

If you notice that the child is disrupting the other students around them, this is when it’s an appropriate time to move them somewhere else. Never isolate the child.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Students with ADHD are often reprimanded by their teachers. This is understandable, but it isn’t helpful for them. They learn to dislike school, hide problems, and act out if they know that their efforts are ignored.

If you want your student to work hard and improve, you need to use positive reinforcement instead of negative reinforcement.
By this, we mean that you should praise your students when they do something good, even if it’s small. For example, if your student with ADHD often struggles to sit for an entire class period, praise them when they’re able to do so.

When you punish a child for something that they have trouble controlling, it can build resentment.

Manage Tough Emotions

Children with ADHD struggle with impulsivity and volatile emotions. They aren’t yet able to handle them.

To help with this, learn what triggers your students and effective ways to help them calm themselves down. Many teachers are learning how to integrate mindfulness into their classrooms through quiet time and even yoga breaks.

It’s a good idea to have sensory toys or objects for your student to hold when they’re struggling with their emotions. You can use fidget toys, stress balls, or even “slime.” If you’re open to it, a fun classroom activity that’s great for science classes allows your students to make their own slime for them to use later.

When the child is visibly struggling with anger or frustration, make sure to meet them at eye level. Speak with a calming and affirming tone and try not to be dismissive.

This makes you a model of good behavior, and it should diffuse the child. It’s also a great way for you to build stronger relationships with your students. Children don’t respond well to patronizing speech.

Use Cues

Children with ADHD may struggle in classroom settings because they tend to be disruptive. This isn’t their fault, but it’s something that you need to manage to make sure that the rest of the class doesn’t suffer from the behavior of a handful of students.

Teach all of your students’ non-verbal cues that indicate that you want them to change their behavior. Teaching all of the students ensures that the students with ADHD won’t feel isolated or called out.

When you notice unacceptable behavior, use one of those cues so that you don’t have to stop class. It should be a small and quick gesture.

For younger children, you may need more obvious cues. A traffic light system is a great idea. Yellow means that they’re starting to get disruptive and red means that they need to stop the behavior immediately.

For more mature students, consider offering them cues to use when they need to step away for quiet time or a brief break. This gives students independence and control and helps them manage their emotions.

Use These Strategies for Behavior Management In the Classroom

Children with ADHD are just as capable as the rest of the class. They’re often sharp, kind, and motivated. While they struggle with maintaining attention, they still want to learn.

Facilitate this learning with strong strategies for behavior management.

Are you a school counselor, psychologist, or behavior intervention specialist? What about a classroom teacher?

We want to provide you with strategies for classroom and behavior management that can benefit all students. Check out our free webinar series for more tips on behavior and classroom management.

For a more intensive education, we have 60 hours of behavior management workshops for individuals who want to improve their classrooms. We want to help your students thrive.


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