Do you know how many children in the United States have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, about 5.4 million children ages 2-17 have the condition.
The most well-known treatment for ADHD is medication. However, there is another treatment that may not be as well-known but that experts say is also effective: behavioral therapy.
In this blog, Nicolette Marak, MD, of Ross Bridge Medical Center Pediatrics in Hoover, Alabama, discusses ADHD basics, symptoms to look for, and how behavioral therapy can be a part of your child’s treatment plan.
Basics of ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a developmental disorder that impacts a child’s ability to concentrate, pay attention, and/or control their impulses. ADHD is often discovered when a child begins school, as the disorder can lead to disruptions in the classroom or problems with schoolwork. Although children of both genders can have ADHD, it’s more common in boys.
Symptoms of ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is often mislabeled as a child being a class clown or being immature. However, the disorder can manifest in many ways. Common symptoms include:
- Being easily distracted
- Having problems concentrating
- Behaving impulsively
- Acting without thinking
- Trouble with handling frustration
- Having dramatic mood swings
- Being fidgety
- Finding it difficult to keep still
- Finding sequencing and organizational skills difficult
Children with ADHD may not perform as well on tests or in school despite being as intelligent and adept as their peers.
The core idea behind behavioral therapy for ADHD is teaching children skills that make it much easier to succeed, whether that be in school, on a sports team, with friendships, or at home. Children learn new skills that help them with tasks they may find challenging, such as completing homework, doing chores, or paying attention in class.
Behavioral therapy works best when the family can set a goal and track it. Picking a single goal at a time — such as completing homework before dinner — is a better approach than targeting multiple goals at time, such as cleaning the room, practicing piano, and walking the dog.
The parental role
Mitigating ADHD symptoms does not fall solely on the child. Parents will meet with their child’s therapist or doctor alone to learn how to provide support and feedback as their child develops. Parents may also want to learn how to manage stress so they can keep calm and remember their support strategies as they interact with their child.
The key for any parent is to consistently and effectively encourage positive behavior while discouraging destructive behavior. With time and effort, your child can reap the benefits of behavioral therapy.