4 ADHD Behavioral Treatments Worth Trying

January 21, 2015 by Dr. Yannick Pauli

Children with ADHD are plagued by problems that go beyond hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Inability to make friends, poor academic performance, and defiance of authority are just some of the difficulties they have to deal with everyday. As such, treating kids with ADHD will involve more than just the quick fix provided by medication; they need help on the educational, behavioral, and social level too.

Behavioral treatments are among the more well-studied non-medical treatments for ADHD. Also known as psychosocial treatments, these behaviorally-oriented approaches are designed to correct the problems posed by ADHD symptoms in daily life. It’s important that they overcome these problems because their presence will make a long-term impact on a child’s relationships and academic success. Below are some of the therapies that can help your child:

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

Ideal for adolescents and teens, cognitive-behavioral therapy is a tool for controlling the demoralizing thoughts and feelings that often take them off the road to recovery. This approach helps deal with the depression and anxiety that often accompany ADHD by changing irrational thought patterns that get in the way of getting things done. For those with ADHD, a special version of cognitive-behavioral therapy instills actionable strategies to solve struggles with organization, time management, and planning. By directly addressing behavioral patterns that are common among those with ADHD, these solutions can have an immediate impact on academic performance and social skills.

Behavior modification

Behavior modification consists of specific techniques taught by a therapist, which parents and teachers can use in their everyday interaction with ADHD kids. The goal of behavior modification is to promote desirable behaviors and limit the occurrence of undesirable ones through a series of rewards and consequences. During a behavior modification program, adults can learn how to give instructions to children, how to provide consequences when a child disobeys commands, and the appropriate response to children’s behavior. Aside from stopping negative behaviors, this approach can also be used to develop new skills. To learn this approach, speak with a mental health professional with experience in behavior modification for ADHD children.

Parent training

Although many of behavior modification’s techniques sound like basic parenting, there are a number of parents who still need some coaching to apply them effectively. If you think you need help enforcing discipline and other rules, you could benefit from parent training. Parent training will teach you how to use commands, establish structure at home, and praise good behaviors. Sessions can either be done in groups or through individual coaching

Social skills training

Teaching a child to get along with others is an important yet easily overlooked component in ADHD treatment. Studies show that ADHD kids who overcome problems making friends or keeping friends generally do better late in life. If your ADHD child experiences social difficulties, he or she might benefit from social skills training – an approach that teaches social skills and behavioral skills considered important by other kids (e.g. sports skills), while decreasing antisocial behaviors. Social skills training is done in various settings, from summer camps to office clinics. When integrated with a comprehensive treatment approach, social skills training can do much to decrease unwanted behaviors in three settings- at home, at school, and at the playground.