Labeling and Discipline

Many teachers and parents lament that disciplining children with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is difficult. Remember, though, that designations such as ADD and ADHD are just that—designations. People who display certain characteristics are labeled. For example if you display inattention, distractibility and/or impulsiveness, you could be labeled ADD. If hyperactivity were included, you could be labeled ADHD.

It is important to note that no biological proof of these designations exists as they do with physiological designations such as influenza, pneumonia, or tuberculosis. In fact, diagnosis occurs via a checklist. Both the child’s parents and teacher(s) check off characteristics they have seen the child display. Each characteristic is given a point value. The checklists are compared and tallied, and then a designation is assigned. Although the intentions to label students are admirable, the results are counterproductive to both students and teachers.

Labeling gives students an excuse and increases discipline issues because labeling encourages victimhood thinking. Additionally, labeling puts an additional, unnecessary burden on teachers. How do you discipline these kids? Be positive with them, encourage them, empower them with choice, don’t try to coerce them—but influence them through the use of reflective questions—and establish procedures with them to assist in their impulse control.

How to do all this is the subject of my book, Discipline Without Stress.

1 Comment
  1. Labeling really does enable victimhood thinking. My middle son was “diagnosed” with ADHD when he was 10. For the rest of his public school career, whenever I’d point out that he didn’t do his homework I’d hear, “Well Dad, I think it’s my ADHD…”.