Behavioural therapy for ADHD
Behavioural therapy for ADHD can be used as an alternative and supplementary treatment with medication for ADHD. Research shows that this kind of treatment can be beneficial for children who have poor familial relationships or issues with aggression or suffer from anxiety or depression along with ADHD. Parents play a huge role in the success of behavioural therapy for ADHD because it involves them working together. Behavioural therapy for ADHD coaches parents to interact differently with children, to discourage and replace the negative behaviours, like nagging and yelling, with desirable ones. Therefore, behaviour therapy demands active participation from you, your child and the therapist.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD focuses on replacing negative behavioural actions and habits of the affected child with positive ones by using a reward-and-consequence system that targets specific behavioural traits. This therapy is action-oriented, where the therapist creates plans to change behaviour patterns, and it does not focus as much on thoughts and emotions. These plans address those behavioural patterns that are particularly troublesome for both the parent and the child.
To execute the plan effectively, parents need to communicate clearly with the child about the actions that need improvement. Parents need to keep a log, observe and report the effectiveness of the therapy regularly. As suggested by the therapist, they need to set specific rules and enforce them consistently with both positive and negative consequences in balance.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD – Reinforce good behaviour
Prepare a chart that lists various activities and rules that the child needs to follow in simple language or pictures. Make a reward system and let the chart depict how successfully implementing each activity or rule will lead the child closer to a reward. It must be done in noticeably clear and concrete terms so that the child knows your expectations from them. Accompany the reward for expected behaviour with verbal recognition or praise to reinforce good behaviour and boost their faith in themselves. Sometimes, however, you might also have to use negative consequences if the positive approach is unsuccessful, especially when the targeted behaviour is aggression. Generally, praise your child at least three to five times as often as you criticise undesirable behaviour. Parents should start with small, achievable goals and gradually increase their expectations.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD – Adapt and change
One important thing to remember is adapting and changing specific measures as your child grows; what worked for your young child may not work with tweens and teenagers. For older children, it is always helpful to involve your child in the process of setting up goals and rewards for good behaviour. For this, you can schedule weekly appointments with the therapist to discuss the child’s progress, and once a month, the child accompanies you to these sessions.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD – Involve the school
It is also essential to talk to your child’s teacher and set up a similar system at school to encourage good behaviour. Make the teacher understand the need for putting extra effort in dealing with the affected child, especially if they are not trained in dealing with students with learning disabilities and ADHD. For example, you can request them to regularly use positive words of encouragement for small achievements that your child accomplishes at school.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD – Social Factor
Another aspect of behavioural training is improving your child’s social skills; for some children, ADHD can make it challenging to socialise and read social situations and other’s reactions. Children may speak non-stop or speak out of turn, or have trouble controlling their emotions or thinking before speaking. These can cause severe problems in your child’s relationship with their peers, and that may lead to lower self-esteem and isolation. Find a good social-skills group that teaches and practice skills that are important when interacting with others. These groups are run by professionals who demonstrate appropriate behaviours and then lets the children practise repeating them. They also teach children about social cues expressed through body language, tone, or words and behave accordingly. Since children with ADHD are often prone to bullying at school, you can request the school counsellor to have a group session for developing your child’s social skills needed for classroom decorum and management. A special educator or counsellor in the school may help the child acquire the necessary social skills to make friends in school.
Behavioural therapy for ADHD – Provide feedback
Parents can provide guidance and feedback to their children about inappropriate behaviour at home and give tips on how to improve them. Role-playing with your child is also an effective way to teach your child about situations that they may encounter. Give your child simple goals that are achievable and specific. For example, teach them to say hi to a friend you meet at the movie hall and explain how this is socially appropriate behaviour. You can schedule play dates with a couple of your child’s classmates at your house to have your child participate in pre-planned activities with them. Since the activities will be pre-planned and of interest to your child, chances of your child behaving appropriately are higher than unplanned playdates.