Edited by: Sarah “Sally” Creekmore, PA-C
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be characterized by inattentive symptoms, hyperactive-impulsive symptoms, or a combination of both. Its symptoms are usually present before the age of 7. Some parents can be overwhelmed when dealing with an initial ADHD diagnosis of a child. Questions arise such as: what type of therapy is best, and where do we find a therapist; whether or not the medication is the best approach; understanding the facts and reality of the diagnosis, and how to properly treat and provide support for your child. These are just a few of the questions parents may be asking, that we will try to address in this article.
Parent training in behavior therapy
When parents seek treatment from a clinician to help their child with ADHD, one of the first elements they should consider involves the training of parents in behavior therapy, which is indicated for all children with ADHD under the age of 12. When working with children under the age of 6, parent training in behavioral therapy should be the first consideration prior to considering treatment with medication.
Behavior therapy utilizes strategies and techniques such as positive reinforcement, daily schedules and checklists, assertive communication, and rule setting, all of which have been proven effective interventions for children with ADHD.
Training in behavioral therapy should be provided by a licensed therapist, qualified in parent training of children with ADHD. Not every experienced ADHD therapist is certified to provide parent training, and not all therapists have a behavioral approach. So the first step is to find the right therapist.
How is the training process?
The specific training process will vary based on the unique needs and situations of all involved. In general, the therapist will meet with parents and children both together and separately to introduce behavioral therapy concepts and tools. The therapist will then develop a treatment plan for all involved and work with the family on how to implement the behavioral strategies into their everyday routine.
What modalities are available for training interventions?
There is scientific evidence of the benefits of behavioral interventions in children with ADHD. Parent training for behavior therapy is an intervention easily adaptable to each family. It can be carried out in couples, with single parents, in groups of couples, groups of single parents, or mixed groups.
What are the benefits of behavior therapy training?
- Offers practical strategies that can be utilized in everyday life experiences by parents and children dealing with ADHD.
- Builds on strengths, which helps strengthen the bond between parents and children.
- Helps children accept and adapt to an environment with rules and behavioral expectations.
- Prevents and/or decreases social, academic, and relationship impairment that can sometimes be associated with ADHD.
- Lasting and cumulative long-term benefits of more positive relationships and interactions with others.
- Provides parents with tools and the understanding to support their child in various life situations such as home, school, social, etc.
Finally, it’s important to remember that parental training in behavioral therapy techniques is one of the most important building blocks in a successful treatment plan for children with ADHD. Developing effective skills, techniques, and strategies to implement a behavioral approach for your child’s ADHD treatment will not only help the child in their everyday lives but will go a long way to help parents cope with stressors that typically accompany parenting a child with ADHD.