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Parents of ADHD Children

Electronics discipline

My 10 year old has ADHD/ODD and his life revolves around electronics.  He is currently grounded from his iPad.  He snuck it into bed with him last Saturday night and played from 11 pm to about 5 am.  He is with a sitter who knows he is not allowed to play any electronics.  Somehow he snuck my husband’s iPad and had been playing on it for about 2 hours.  It seems like we are forever taking things away from him.  We don’t want to and it never seems to work anyway.  How do we get him to understand when we say NO we mean it?  I know I’ve read that if we are to strict or are constantly taking things away, kids with ADHD will find ways to be sneaky.  That’s not what we want but he doesn’t understand that we have to set boundaries and he needs to follow them.  School starts in 3 days and God help us then.  Any suggestions/help???  Thanks in advance.


I don’t have a ton of experience with sneaking but perhaps you need to reward him for NOT sneaking. I know that seems odd because not sneaking should be the normal behavior but we don’t have normal kids! Reward good action to create good habits. If he keeps to the rules then good things happen. All he knows is that when he doesn’t bad things happen and he can get around those bad things.

Another possibility is to provide him with the opportunity to win back iPad time with chores. If he knows he is grounded and has no possibility of shortening the rule, then he gets creative with getting around it. Help him out by making it possible to shorten it with good behavior.

We constantly need to find ways to say, “Good job!” especially when we are more than likely saying, “Why did you do that!?!”

Posted by momodoodle on Aug 11, 2014 at 8:33pm

Hi 2SKboys…

First I must say to you, well done for following through even though it would be so much easier (in the short term) to give in.

I have a few different thoughts regarding your situation based on the limited information I have.

I have worked with many clients who sound similar to your son and his attitude.  Most of these clients have told me that they simply don’t care about the ‘threats of things being taken away.’  They often suggest that they don’t believe that they will be successful so will lose the privileges, etc anyways.  So they don’t try very hard to comply with the expectations.

They typically respond much better to a more approach, meaning…. ‘Once you have finished ….. you can have your I Pad for 1 hour.’  In other words clearly spell out the expectation AND the reward rather than what will happen if they do not do something.  They tend to hear the latter as,’ I know you are going to fail so when you do this is what you will lose.’

Another thought I have is, if you do have to follow through with the consequence of taking away the I Pad, can you either put the device in a place that he will not have access to it (even removing it from the house), change the password so that he cannot get into it.  If the internet is an issue, can you turn off the wireless modem at night?

Regarding school, it is so important to start on a positive note, have you met with the teacher and reviewed the accommodations in his IEP?

Good luck with your efforts!

Feel free to be in touch for more ideas.

Carrie Silverberg,  BA (Psyc), RECE
ADHD Consultant and Coach
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Posted by on Aug 11, 2014 at 10:35pm

Electronics provide so much to those with ADHD—escape, stimulation, something they can be successful at—it’s no wonder they want electronics and nothing else. My son is exactly like yours, he’d do nothing else if we let him.

Try some behavior modification techniques to change his sneaky behavior ( As others have said, focusing on the positive is most effective with kids with ADHD (

Be sure to set expectations very clearly for your son ( Write down and post the rules around electronics. When everyone is calm, review the rules and discuss the consequences. I find it’s easiest to have only a couple different consequences so your child always knows in an instant what the consequence might be.

By the way, I stink at policing electronics. My son has far more time on electronics each day in the summer than he should. But I work from home and I can’t fulfill my obligations for work and stay on top of all his activities. Just know this is tough for many of us. wink

ADDconnect Moderator, Author & Mom to Tween Boy with ADHD and LDs

Posted by adhdmomma on Aug 12, 2014 at 1:51pm

We use the “ban electronics” consequence regularly and it works wonders. Our son is also 10, and has never tried sneaking behind our back. In fact, if I’ve given him a consequence and I forget, he’ll remind me that he’s not allowed electronics.

Part of this could just be his temperament, but part could also be because I’ve spent a great deal of effort laying the foundation of rewarding both my kids for honesty. When they were little and they fessed up to something, I’d give them a “half” punishment because they were honest (whereas if I’d found out about it first, they’d get a “full” consequence). I’d make sure to be clear about it: “since you told me about this, you only lose TV until noon. If you hadn’t told me, there’d be no TV all day.” etc etc.

Also, I give my son the opportunity to earn back lost electronics with school work (mostly reading, or a math sheet). He now comes to me and offers to read to earn back screen time. The funny thing is that he’ll get so caught up in the book he’s reading that he’ll forget about his laptop, lol.

smile smile smile

Anyway, that’s how things are for us, but it’s the result of conditioning over time… although I suppose you could try starting now.

Posted by OopsForgotAgain on Aug 12, 2014 at 4:57pm

We use a pretty complicated system that seems to have worked - it incorporates the positive elements Penny references. Because he had a tendency to use up whatever his limit was (2 hours non school days, 1 hour school day) and then whine about it, this is what we set up over the summer:
45 minutes between getting up and 1 p.m.
45 minutes between 1 and 5 p.m.
If no whining, an extra 30 minutes after 5 p.m. (but not an hour before bedtime)
He gets points as well that he can turn in for DS games.
Sports on TV are an exception - he can read for 30 minutes to get 30 minutes of watching sports.

He did sneak screen time at one point - we hid the iPad.

Posted by judtray on Aug 15, 2014 at 6:29pm

Hello 2SKboys,
First off can I say I love the resource of these threads and ADD Connect!  I really enjoyed some of the positive responses to your discussion.
And secondly, I am so RELIEVED!! I am relieved to hear your child is sneaky too - lol.  I am embarrassed to say how many years it took me to move past the sneaky factor.  I had to get over that she is sneaky, but that does not make her bad.  It does need consequences and guidelines, though.  As some others have said - it seems like they would be on media from dawn to dusk if they could.  Which is so healthy for a kid who needs to burn an excessive amount of energy (yeah right!)  Once I got over the fact that I needed to be two steps ahead of the media temptations – it seemed easier.  She has snuck time after bedtime too and it is so frustrating.  She has to turn in her phone and and ipad before bedtime.  We have to hide it.  We also make her sleep with her door open because the other night she was sneaking extra reading time too!  When she was on meds it was really hard because she had trouble falling asleep so I think she was looking for something to do.  We try to make sure she has had enough exercise so sleep comes easier now.  At bedtime, I also tell her I will be checking back in a little, so she needs to be lying down in her bed or else she will be in trouble.

It is nice to know I am not the only one in this situation.  It is actually really comforting to know that – especially since my closest friends do not have spouses or children with ADD or ADHD.
Hang in there!

Posted by bjaudon on Aug 18, 2014 at 8:01pm

Thanks everyone for your responses.  I am working harder on finding things to praise him on rather than being negative all the time.  Why does it seem like we have no problems saying “Why did you do that?” rather than “Good Job!”?

Both of my boys (10 & 6) know that there is no iPad or iPod during the school week.  It’s always been that way.  I collect them Sunday night and they are returned Friday night.  So far it seems to be working.  They are both addicted to Minecraft so allowing extra time for that may work where other things fail.  Trial and error, right?

Carrie - We do have an IEP in place at school.  He’s doing really well so far this year (5th grade).  I do hide his iPad if it is taken from him.  Then I have to remember where I put it.

Thanks again!

Posted by 2SKboys on Sep 11, 2014 at 5:46pm

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