How to Use Positive Reinforcement to Improve Attention in Children with ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) makes it hard for children to focus and control impulses. Positive reinforcement can help.

What is positive reinforcement?

  • Giving rewards or praise immediately after desired behaviors. This encourages repetition of these behaviors.

How to use rewards:

  • Identify activities where your child struggles to pay attention, like schoolwork.
  • Create a reward system where they earn points for completing or working on these tasks.
  • Allow points to be traded for rewards like special outings, screen time, or treats.
  • Praise and reward immediately after success to reinforce the behavior.

How to use sticker charts:

  • Break big tasks into smaller chunks.
  • Give a sticker each time a chunk is finished.
  • Big reward when chart is filled.
  • Visual chart shows progress and frequent small rewards keep attention.

Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful: ADHD Resources

How to use praise:

  • Verbally praise when your child pays attention or resists distractions.
  • Be specific like “I love how you kept working when your brother was noisy.”
  • Shows you notice appropriate behaviors to reinforce.

How to practice focus:

  • Short activities requiring attention like puzzles or coloring.
  • Gradually increase time as child succeeds.
  • Celebrate achievement and progress.


  • Rewards, praise, charts and focused practice allow positive reinforcement.
  • Reinforcing positive behaviors improves concentration, impulse control and task completion.
  • Frequent, immediate, positive feedback shapes desired behaviors.
  • Consistency with these methods helps attention skills in children with ADHD.

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Here are some additional resources that you may find helpful: ADHD Resources