Behavioral treatment is an active treatment where parents and teachers learn methods and strategies to help children with ADHD. Teens and families may also work with a therapist to build certain strategies to help manage ADHD.
Strategies for Parents to Use at Home
Parents learn how to manage their child’s behaviors problems caused by ADHD. For example, parents can learn to give better instructions, set small goals and use appropriate rewards and consequences. This shows parents how to help their child with ADHD to behave better. Because the focus is on the child’s behavior, these methods are also called “behavior therapy.” Unlike other therapies, this does not mean talking with the child about how they feel. Rather, therapists help parents learn practical ways to help their child behave better.
What is usually involved?
In studies where this helped, parents learned these methods in groups with other parents. The groups met between 8 and 16 times. In addition to learning new skills, parents often get support from being in a group with other parents of children with ADHD. Some families benefit from working with a therapist individually.
What is available at Children’s National?
The ADHD & Learning Differences Program and the HALP Clinic offer behavior therapy options for children, teens and families led by clinical psychologists who specialize in ADHD. The ADHD & Learning Differences Program at Children’s National offers parent groups “Understanding and Managing ADHD: A Group Program for Parents of Children with ADHD.” The groups have 8 weekly sessions. Parents learn about ADHD, how to manage child behavior, and how to work with teachers and doctors to help their child. For more information, view our flyer.
Also, your child’s doctor may be able to refer you to a local psychologist. They are trained to help you learn ways to manage your child’s behavior.
Strategies for Teachers and Parents to Use to Improve Performance at School
Teachers can use many of the same methods as parents to help children behave in school (e.g. set small goals, use time-outs, reward systems and point systems). Daily Report Cards are often used to change behavior in class. They provide a way for teachers and parents to better communicate about progress toward goals. School counselors, school mental health professionals, classroom aides or tutors help children with organization and study skills in school.
What is usually involved?
In studies where this helped, teachers, school counselors, school mental health professionals, classroom aides and tutors received formal training on methods that are helpful for children with ADHD. This was important because many teachers receive no formal education about ADHD during their training. There are key differences in the types of methods that work best for children with ADHD compared to those without ADHD.
What is available nearby?
The ADHD & Learning Differences Program partners with local schools to deliver these programs in the context of ongoing research and community programming. The parent groups offered by the ADHD & Learning Differences Program also include advice about how to successfully work with your child’s teacher. This includes how to use a daily report card, how to tailor classroom methods for children with ADHD and how to request support for your child.
Choosing Behavioral Treatment
The first step is learning strategies and methods to help your child manage his or her behavior. Next, you need to use these strategies regularly. These strategies will become part of your parenting skills. You may need to refresh these skills through reading and/or meeting with professionals.
Certain strategies may work for a while and then stop working. You may need to learn different methods. It is very important for you and your child’s teacher to keep a close eye on how things are going. Contact your child’s doctor if any problems come up.
To learn more about behavioral treatment on your own, review our ADHD resources for families