13th May 2011 at 01:00
The problem: We have a seven-year-old with ADHD. He gets one-to-one support and has made progress, but still shouts, swears and hits other children. Some parents want to discuss his effect on their children's education. How can I get them on side?

What you said

"I'm not sure how you get other people to care about a child who is hurting their own, other than getting this boy to `behave himself'. The other people you can get on side are children. Then parents might not be so worried."


"Are you saying that because a child has ADHD they have no comprehension that hitting or swearing is wrong? I teach kids with all the spectrum of `problems'. If they are doing something they like, they are no problem; it's only during activities they don't enjoy that they kick off."

Dave 4812

The expert view

First, you have shown good practice by offering a supportive structure, enabling and empowering this young person who has the challenge of carrying a lifelong disability as they grow and learn.

The problem is to do with the parents demonising his behaviour. This kind of input usually starts with a small number of parents. Think of the 9010 rule: 90 per cent of the problems are caused by 10 per cent of the people. So in a class of 30, three parents will be at the centre of the issue. Reassure the parents and listen to their concerns. Do not allow the discussion to become a tirade against a child. Tell them you are aware of the difficulties and you are working with the whole class to improve behaviour.

You should not put this child at the centre of any changes you make. I suggest you introduce a whole-class behaviour approach that will support this boy and every other child in the class.

We advocate a technique called "1-2-3 Magic", which is effective with ADHD children; and what works well for them can also work well for others. The programme, developed by US psychologist Dr Thomas Phelan, can be shared with parents to use at home. It brings positive results and will help bring parents on side.

Colin McGee and Holly Evans are advisory teachers for ADHD charity Addiss. For more information, visit For more behaviour advice, go to

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