As a non-medical treatment approach, behavior therapy ADHD treatment is a well-recognized therapy for children who have been diagnosed with ADHD. The process is also sometimes referred to as behavior management.
Although medications can manage the symptoms of ADHD, they may not be suitable for every child. For some children medication has little or no effect on behaviors, for others the side effects can be just as bad in different ways than the ADHD symptoms. Also, for some children the medications may not address all the symptoms and others may just refuse to take it. This can sometimes happen in older children and teenagers.
Behavior therapy for ADHD aims to reduce ADHD behaviors by focusing on three main factors. Children, especially young children, generally want to please their parents and may change behaviors to gain parental approval. Behavior therapy can also work by using positive reward as a motivational tool and also by the avoidance of negative consequences (punishments).
So, the idea is to increase the emphasis on the child achieving parental approval with rewards for positive behavior and discouraging inappropriate behavior with consistent punishments.
Having a child with ADHD can be like living in a war zone with constant tension, arguments and fights due to the frustrations felt on all sides over ADHD behaviors. Parents are constantly having to nag, berate and cajole to get anything done and children get fed up always being in trouble and labeled as ‘bad’ or naughty. The relationship can quickly break down.
So going back to behavioral therapy and focusing on aiming to increase the child’s desire to please their parents there needs to be some time out from all this aggression where parent and child can enjoy an activity together. The best way to increase some goodwill between parent and child is for the child to choose an activity and then work with the parent to complete it. Parents need to ensure that they use motivational language and not try and take over or correct the child. This doesn’t have to go on for hours, about 30 – 40 minutes should be enough.
By spending quality time together that’s fun, your child will start to enjoy Mom or Dad’s time and will hopefully become more willing to please.
The use of the positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool in behavior therapy. ADHD kids generally spend much of their time doing something they shouldn’t and getting reprimanded for their actions. It’s not very often that they get told they’ve done something right. It is generally much easier to criticize than to praise but if you make the effort to thank them or compliment on the behaviors you want to see more of the likelihood is that they’ll be repeated.
As well as verbal rewards you can also use other rewards. For example: for every good behavior your child earns a point that they can then accumulate for either a toy or a special treat of some kind. Try to avoid food treats though as these can encourage bad eating habits.
Negative consequences work in a similar way. Once you have explained to your child what is expected in a certain situation and they have understood you can use predetermined punishments if their behavior is not acceptable.
By punishments, I don’t mean physically hitting your child, rather the removal of some privileges. In order for this approach to truly be effective, you must be consistent or your child will soon realize that there is a difference between what you say and what you do.
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For behavior therapy treatments to work parents must be very clear about what their expectations are for their child’s behavior. The children need to understand both the actions they are expected to do and also the consequences for not carrying out those actions. Parents must be consistent with both reward and punishments and take care not to overreact to situations.
If you are interested in designing a behavior therapy ADHD plan for your child then speak to your doctor who should be able to give you a referral to a qualified professional.