To continue our post regarding children and ADHD, below are some helpful resources for parents trying to navigate the world of ADHD treatment and therapy.
To find ADD/ADHD treatment providers, you may want to contact:
- Your primary care physician or your child’s pediatrician
- Your insurance company
- Officials at your child’s school
- Local hospitals or clinics
- A local parent support group.
|ADHD Specialists||What they can do to help:|
|Child and adolescent psychiatrists||
Behavioral therapy, also known as behavior modification, has been shown to be a very successful treatment for children with ADD / ADHD. It is especially beneficial as a co-treatment for children who take stimulant medications and may even allow you to reduce the dosage of the medication.
Behavior therapy involves reinforcing desired behaviors through rewards and praise and decreasing problem behaviors by setting limits and consequences. For example, one intervention might be that a teacher rewards a child who has ADHD for taking small steps toward raising a hand before talking in class, even if the child still blurts out a comment. The theory is that rewarding the struggle toward change encourages the full new behavior.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, there are three basic principles to any behavior therapy approach:
Set specific goals. Set clear goals for your child such as staying focused on homework for a certain time or sharing toys with friends.
Provide rewards and consequences. Give your child a specified reward (positive reinforcement) when he or she shows the desired behavior. Give your child a consequence (unwanted result or punishment) when he or she fails to meet a goal.
Keep using the rewards and consequences. Using the rewards and consequences consistently for a long time will shape your child’s behavior in a positive way.
As parents, you can set up a customized behavioral modification program for your child who has ADD / ADHD with the help of behavioral specialist, such as a cognitive-behavioral therapist. A cognitive-behavioral therapist focuses on practical solutions to everyday issues. This kind of therapist can set up a behavioral modification program of rewards and consequences for your child at home and at school and support you in shaping your child’s behavior.
Patience is key with behavioral therapy, since people with ADD / ADHD are notoriously variable in their symptoms. One day, your child may behave beautifully, and the next, fall back into old patterns. Sometimes it may seem as if the training is not working. However, over time, behavioral treatment does improve the symptoms of ADHD.
Social skills training
Because kids with attention deficit disorder often have difficulty with simple social interactions and struggle with low self-esteem, another type of treatment that can help is social skills training. Normally conducted in a group setting, social skills training is led by a therapist who demonstrates appropriate behaviors and then has the children practice repeating them. A social skills group teaches children how to “read” others’ reactions and how to behave more acceptably. The social skills group should also work on transferring these new skills to the real world.
For a social skills group near you, ask for a referral from your school psychologist or a local mental health clinic.
Children with ADD / ADHD often have trouble translating what they’ve learned from one setting to another. For instance, they may have learned how to control impulsive outbursts at school, but impatiently interrupt others at home.
Consistency is key
In order to encourage positive change in all settings, children with ADD / ADHD need consistency. It is important that parents of children with ADD / ADHD learn how to apply behavioral therapy techniques at home. Children with ADD/ADHD are more likely to succeed in completing tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places, so that they know what to expect and what they are supposed to do.
- Follow a routine. It is important to set a time and a place for everything to help a child with ADD/ADHD understand and meet expectations. Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed.
- Use clocks and timers. Consider placing clocks throughout the house, with a big one in your child’s bedroom. Allow plenty of time for what your child needs to do, such as homework or getting ready in the morning.
- Simplify your child’s schedule. Avoiding idle time is a good idea, but a child with ADD/ADHD may become even more distracted and “wound up” if there are too many after-school activities.
- Create a quiet place. Make sure your child has a quiet, private space of his or her own. A porch or bedroom can work well too—as long as it’s not the same place as the child goes for a time-out.
- Set an example for good organization. Set up your home in an organized way. Make sure your child knows that everything has its place. Role model neatness and organization as much as possible.
The importance of praise
As you establish a consistent structure and routine, keep in mind that children with ADD/ADHD often receive criticism. Be on the lookout for good behavior—and praise it. Praise is especially important for children who have ADD/ADHD because they typically get so little of it. A smile, positive comment, or other reward from you can improve your child’s attention, concentration, and impulse control. Do your best to focus on giving positive praise for appropriate behavior and task completion, while giving as few negative responses as possible to inappropriate behavior or poor task performance. Reward your child for small achievements—these will lead to bigger successes down the road.
Work with your child’s school. School interventions are important in the treatment of ADD / ADHD in children. As a parent, you can work with your child and his or her teacher to implement practical strategies for learning both inside and out of the classroom.