Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can affect a child’s ability to pay attention, control impulsive behaviors or be overly active. When a child is diagnosed with ADHD, there are many forms of behavior therapy techniques that can be used to help the child learn ways to manage their behavior.
One of the goals for behavior therapy is to change negative behaviors into positive ones.
There are also many different types of behavioral therapy such as behavioral classroom management, behavioral peer interventions, behavioral parent training and modeling. Children with ADHD have symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsiveness and inattention. Sometimes children with severe ADHD symptoms benefit from behavioral therapy along with medication.
For children Ages 4-5 behavioral therapy is recommended first, before trying medication. Behavior therapy can help build a skill set for children that can continue to benefit them as they grow up.
A behavioral classroom management plan is designed to support students’ positive behaviors in the classroom, while preventing negative behaviors, and increasing student academic engagement. Teachers will develop procedures that students will think ahead of time, communicate the procedure to the students and practice several times.
Behavioral peer interventions are often used in a school setting and have been shown to provide many benefits to academic, social, and interpersonal development. Teachers will involve one or more student peers providing assistance with the child with behavioral problems. This kind of therapy is used in the school setting to help children with their social and interpersonal development.
Behavior parent training was developed for parents to learn skills to better manage their child’s behavior. Parents learn ways to strengthen their relationship with their child. This training is done with a mental health professional who meets parents in person, in groups or virtually.
The training covers, creating house rules and routine, learning to praise good behavior and ignoring mild/incorrect behavior, planning ahead and working with children in public places, using points systems with rewards and consequences.
Modeling is a form of therapy in which a therapist demonstrates a non-fearful response to a negative situation in order to encourage imitation in the child. The therapist works with the child to learn new behaviors to replace behaviors that cause problems. The therapist may also help the child learn to handle feelings in ways that do not create problems for the child or other people.
Goals and treatment for behavior therapy are to strengthen good behaviors, limit disruptive behaviors, teach children to express feelings in a peaceful way. Creating a clear goal for the child and being specific can make them understand what they are supposed to do.
For example, completing a homework assignment by a certain time. Parents and teachers can be consistent with a ‘rewards and consequences system’ by always rewarding the child for showing good behavior but also make sure they know the consequence for unwanted behavior and follow through on it.
Parents can have 1-on-1 sessions with the therapist to review their progress, provide support and adjust strategies as needed to ensure improvement. Learning and practicing behavior therapy requires time and effort but it has lasting benefits for the child and the family.