ADHD Strategies

from The Diary of a First Grade Teacher

ADHD strategies discussed here are two alternatives to treatment with medicine. The alternatives are behavioral options.

Behavioral Options

The behavioral options included are behavior modification and counseling. Let’s look at behavior modification, first.

What is it? Behavior modification – which involves cognitive behavior therapy – is a method used for changing an individual’s behavior.

Cognitive behavior therapy recognizes certain behaviors and focuses on correcting them right away. Its purpose is to change the individual’s reactions or behavior to stimuli.

Stimuli are things or events in an individual’s environment that arouse an action or reaction. To achieve changes in behavior, positive and negative reinforcements play major roles.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is used to (eventually) get the response you want.

What is positive reinforcement? To increase the frequency of a desired behavior, you give the child something they want or like.

For example, because the child cooperated AND completed the homework correctly, he is allowed to play a video game.

Negative Reinforcement

Negative reinforcement is also used to help strengthen a desired behavior. Here’s how … By stopping a certain behavior, the child avoids the consequence of a negative condition.

Since being hungry is a negative condition for most of us, we’ll use this in the following example of negative reinforcement:

One morning a child with ADHD gets up early enough to enjoy a hearty breakfast and he avoids the pangs of hunger. Also he experiences a much better day at school.

The next morning the child gets up early again to avoid the pangs of hunger. The child’s behavior of getting up earlier to eat is strengthened because he wants to avoid the negative condition (hunger pangs).

Punishment is another type of negative reinforcement. The behavior fades whenever a negative condition is repeatedly experienced because of bad behavior.

We all know examples of being punished ... And if the punishment was something we didn’t want to experience again, we learned to avoid those behaviors.

Behavior Modification

Using the behavioral modification approach – which is used in many academic classrooms - both parent and child will learn how to do the following:

  • Set goals for their home environment
  • Set specific rewards for certain behaviors
  • Set consequences for certain other behaviors
  • Follow through with those rewards and consequences consistently
A parent can discuss behavioral modification options with their doctor. Usually, behavior therapy works best in combination with medical therapy to affect all areas of the child’s life.

ADHD Strategies for Homework

ADHD Counseling

Often, children who have been diagnosed with ADHD also have other behavioral conditions. It’s not uncommon for them to have some form of anxiety or depressive disorder at the same time.

In fact, the pressure of dealing with ADHD can bring on the symptoms of depression.

Dealing with the effects of ADHD can be hard on everyone in the family. Counseling can be effective not just for the child but also for the entire family.

Counseling sessions allow each person to express their feelings about how they are affected. A trained psychiatrist or clinical psychologist can then address the situation and offer feedback and exercises to help the family cope.

Because it is already difficult for teenagers to find their place among their peers, ADHD doesn’t make it any easier. Individual counseling with an older child or teen gives them the opportunity to communicate their feelings.

They may have anger and shame issues related to their condition. A counselor can offer coping skills for dealing with peers, as well as provide information on ways for them to tackle their school work.

Counseling is always helpful to families with children who have been diagnosed with ADHD.

Combining Treatments

Finally, ADHD strategies may include combining treatments. With children, addressing ADHD with more than medication has extensive benefits.

One benefit is it helps your child understand what is happening to them. For example, when adults are given medication, they can understand why. But for a child, that may not be the case.

Behavioral treatment options assist them in accepting the nature of their condition and by showing them how to be instrumental in their own treatment.

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