ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity and impulsivity. It starts in childhood and symptoms may persist into adulthood. It may also be linked to other mental health conditions.
The type of ADHD diagnosed depends on the most predominant set of symptoms as either predominantly Hyperactive / impulsive, predominantly Inattentive or Combined type. Many children have trouble with some of these things. But in children with ADHD, this behaviour is extreme and has a big impact on their daily lives.
With ADHD, the different parts of the brain don’t ‘talk’ to each other in a typical way. Because of this, children might have trouble thinking, learning, expressing their feelings or controlling their behaviour as well as other children of the same age
Behaviour Therapy for Children with ADHD
Most experts recommend using both medication and behavior therapy to treat ADHD. This is known as a multimodal treatment approach.
There are many forms of behavior therapy, but all have a common goal—to change the child’s physical and social environments to help the child improve their behavior.
Under this approach, parents, teachers, and other caregivers learn better ways to work with and relate to the child with ADHD. You will learn how to set and enforce rules, help your child understand what they need to do, use discipline effectively, and encourage good behavior. Your child will learn better ways to control their behavior as a result. You will learn how to be more consistent.
How can I help my child control their behaviour?
As the child’s primary caregivers, parents play a major role in behaviour therapy. Parent training is available to help you learn more about ADHD and specific, positive ways to respond to ADHD-type behaviours. This will help your child improve. In many cases parenting classes with other parents will be sufficient, but with more challenging children, individual work with a counselor/coach may be needed.
Taking care of yourself will also help your child. Being the parent of a child with ADHD can be tiring and trying. It can test the limits of even the best parents. Parent training and support groups made up of other families who are dealing with ADHD can be a great source of help. Learn stress management techniques to help you respond calmly to your child. Seek counselling if you feel overwhelmed or hopeless.
Ask your pediatrician to help you find parent training, counselling, and support groups in your community.
Tips for helping your child control their behaviour:
Keep your child on a daily schedule.
Try to keep the time that your child wakes up, eats, bathes, leaves for school, and goes to sleep the same each day.
Cut down on distractions.
Loud music, computer games, and TV can be overstimulating to your child. Make it a rule to keep the TV or music off during mealtime and while your child is doing homework. Don’t place a TV in your child’s bedroom.
Organize your house.
If your child has specific and logical places to keep their schoolwork, toys, and clothes, they are less likely to lose them. Save a spot near the front door for their school backpack so they can grab it on the way out the door.
Reward positive behavior.
Offer kind words, hugs, or small prizes for reaching goals in a timely manner or good behaviour. Praise and reward your child’s efforts to pay attention.
Set small, reachable goals.
Aim for slow progress rather than instant results. Be sure that your child understands that they can take small steps toward learning to control themself.
Help your child stay “on task.”
Use charts and checklists to track progress with homework or chores. Keep instructions brief. Offer frequent, friendly reminders.
Help your child learn to make good decisions by giving only two or three options at a time.
Find activities at which your child can succeed.
All children need to experience success to feel good about themselves.
Use calm discipline.
Use consequences such as time-out, removing the child from the situation or distraction. Sometimes it is best to simply ignore the behaviour. Physical punishment, such as spanking or slapping, is not helpful. Discuss your child’s behaviour with them when both of you are calm.
Develop a good communication system with your child’s teacher so that you can coordinate your efforts and monitor your child’s progress.
Source Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents About Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 6/2016)
Additional Information on HealthyChildren.org:
Understanding ADHD: Information for Parents
Common ADHD Medications & Treatments for Children
How Schools Can Help Children with ADHD
Common Coexisting Conditions in Children with ADHD