My 7 year old son, who has been diagnosed with ADHD, is exhibiting hard to manage behavior. Some recent examples are:

  • He doesn't do as he is asked
  • He runs out of school by a main Rd alone
  • He gets into car and locks his gran out
  • Later, he kicks and/or punches her as she gets in, and
  • most recently, he hurled a book into her face causing damage.

He apologized later, but gran refuses to accept it because she feels that he apologizes and thinks everything fine again, not realizing that he has frightened and depressed her.

How can I discipline him?

  • 1
    Hello and welcome to Parenting.SE. I have voted to close your question because while it contains some details as to the problem, it doesn't ask a very specific question. "How to discipline a very violent child?" is the kind of question that leads to large discussions and debates. Please narrow down your question and perhaps considering formatting any grammatical and spelling errors. Feb 18, 2018 at 22:20
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    Is this a single incident or a pattern of behavior? Disciplining this specific incident after the fact isn't going to work. What you can do is be very strict about certain behavior (punch anyone for any reason and it's a week no computer or something like that). Also I think ADHD has no relation to the problem you describe. For being loud, ADHD might be a mitigating factor. For hitting people it's no excuse. Don't let anyone (especially your kid) that having a disability is an excuse for poor behaviour
    – Batavia
    Feb 19, 2018 at 8:31
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    I feel that this is a good question because it specifically asks for discipline, not punishment. The phrasing of the event description could be improved, but the concern of instilling discipline in children with ADHD is a very real and difficult one, not limited to one sample event.
    – pojo-guy
    Feb 19, 2018 at 17:41
  • Have you asked him why he behaves in these ways? What is he feeling in those moments, and why does he react the way he does to a given stimulus? Does he understand that such behaviors are inappropriate? Does he understand how he has made his grandmother feel?
    – V2Blast
    Sep 3, 2021 at 18:41

2 Answers 2


ADHD is a common symptom of any of several organic dysfunctions in the brain. Because of this, any viable answer will border on medical advice, which is out of scope for SE. Nevertheless, I will attempt to give an answer (sanitized of medical advice) because I believe this is a good question.

My exposure to ADHD goes back to the late 1980's when I assisted in creating materials for a children's hospital to teach parents whose children had been diagnosed with ADD (as it was called then) about the symptoms and treatments available. Over the years, both knowledge and misinformation about the condition have abounded.

In the past year, the study of ADHD has become much more personal for me. As a result of injuries, I exhibit many of the same symptoms as children with ADHD (and @anongoodnurse keeps me in check on here when I get out of hand, much to her frustration and my deep appreciation). Unlike the children, I have a solid anatomical model that I can point to to explain what is out of whack.

Asking "How do I discipline a child with ADHD" is IMHO akin to asking "How do I discipline a child with one leg?".

A child with one leg cannot be expected to compete in the 100 meter sprints, but they can be disciplined to persevere and accomplish great athletic feats (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaXU8_soOBQ)

Example: In many of my postings talk (or brag) about my webcast team, which is first-in-class for the work they do. On my team, I have a boy with ADHD. The other day we sat down and I explained to him the nature of my injuries. It took him about 2 minutes to reason his way from the abstract discussion of brain anatomy to realizing that we shared the most troubling of his symptoms - the violent flash temper that OP describes.

Outside of my team, this boy has a reputation for an unpredictable temper. But when webcasting, this boy always incredibly focused and professional no matter how much pressure I put him under, while working in close quarters in a team, which includes at least two other people with flash tempers.

Takeaway #1: It has been documented that kids with ADHD often do better with task oriented activities than unstructured activities.

Takeaway #2 You can instill discipline (self control), but you cannot heal a mechanical flaw through punishment.

Takeaway #3 He may need to learn to handle emotions strategically rather than tactically. In my own case, due to mechanical damage, I am not aware of emotions until they are strong enough that I can read the involuntary signs in my own body. All of the drugs and anger management classes in the world can't compensate for a damaged shred of tissue that is just a few millimeters in size.

One of my tech's flash points is when he feels he is being appeased or catered to. He is not defined by ADHD. I hold him to the same standard as the adults on my team, and his ADHD only comes to my attention when outside forces intrude.

Takeaway #4 Treat him with respect, and cultivate an atmosphere of mutual respect. Nothing hurts a person's feelings more than to be treated as damaged goods by people they respect.

Takeaway #5 Do not cater to ADHD. He will have to live in the real world and learn to manage. Temper tantrums have real world ramifications. In the world of social media, a person's career can be ended and they can be rendered unemployable for one bad day.


I will try to answer this to the best of my ability.

Tire your son out.

Studies have shown that exercise helps to focus the mind of people with ADHD, improve their moods through dopamine and shows a significant positive change in behaviour.

So get him into sports, make him run laps, go bike riding, go swimming, and more. If he complains tell him its punishment and make him run more. The first few weeks may be a challenge, but once it becomes a habit and he feels the results of the increased dopamine in his system, he should keep it going.

  • I think you are (probably intentionally) skipping the key issue - violent. If this stays up I'd at least suggest some links to resources or communities that deal with violent tendencies in children. i.e. don't let the focus become the low hanging fruit or something like that.
    – Adam Heeg
    Feb 19, 2018 at 15:21
  • @AdamHeeg I don't know where the person lives so I don't know what resources other than online ones the person can access. As the studies I did link to show, physical activity has a good chance of tempering or removing the worst tendencies of people with ADHD, which includes violence. The only other suggestion I could or would give is to get the child to a therapist specialized in dealing with violent ADHD children.
    – Dan Clarke
    Feb 19, 2018 at 15:29
  • The brain is a complicated organ, with many causes expressing the same symptoms. You may want to watch Dr Daniel Amen's account of his nephew's ADHD and treatment on YouTube. After viewing his videos go back to your primary care physician with some more informed questions.
    – pojo-guy
    Feb 19, 2018 at 17:34

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