If your child has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), your doctor will probably recommend behavioral therapy as a treatment. Behavioral therapy isn’t psychotherapy or play therapy. It focuses on actions, not emotions. It can teach your child how to turn negative, disruptive energy into positive thoughts and actions.
In general, doctors recommend behavioral therapy as soon as your child is diagnosed with ADHD. The CDC says it is the preferred first treatment for all kids with ADHD, regardless of their age. If your child is diagnosed during preschool (age 4 or 5), it’s usually the only treatment used. Studies show behavioral therapy works as well as medication in young kids. If your preschooler doesn’t get better or has symptoms that are moderate or severe, then his doctor may prescribe medication.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends behavioral therapy along with medication for children ages 6 and older. The combined treatment is sometimes referred to as a “multimodal approach.”
The primary caregivers for behavioral therapy are the adults who are raising the child. Other people who spend time with your child, such as teachers or caregivers, help too. The idea is to surround your kid with people who will consistently and effectively encourage positive behavior and discourage the not-so-good stuff.
Some parents choose an ADHD behavioral therapist, but you don’t have to go to a special counselor. There are ADHD behavior therapy classes that train parents. We can help you find classes that are available in your area. They are sometimes listed under names such as:
During class, a therapist teaches you how to set and stick to rules and how to respond to ADHD behaviors. Classes usually take place once a week for about 3 to 4 months. Research shows that this training not only helps nix your child’s negative behavior, it’ll bring the two of you closer together.
Children with ADHD often have trouble sitting still. They can be impulsive and fidgety. That can make it hard for them to pay attention. It can also be disruptive in classrooms and at home. Behavioral therapy teaches your child skills that will help him. They:
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Dr. Germano Falcao
Dr. Germano Falcao is a Mayo Clinic Trained Pediatric Neurologist who has a passion to care for children with neurological disorders and give support to their families. He is a compassionate and experienced physician, a published author, and a professor who specializes in areas involving Seizures and Epilepsy; Headaches and Migraine syndromes; Neurodevelopment Disorders; ADHD and Autism Evaluation.