5 Behavioral Treatments for ADHD

Treatments for ADHD
There are Treatments for ADHD

Behavioral Therapy for ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common childhood disorders. Often abbreviated as ADHD, this disorder affects an estimated 6.1 million children in the United States and approximately 2.8% of adults worldwide. ADHD has been linked to many secondary conditions like depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and substance abuse.

The diagnosis for this disorder is made through behavioral observation as well as medical history and blood work (lab test for ADHD) Medications are often prescribed to treat these symptoms. However, there are also some behavioral treatments you can use alone or in conjunction with medication to help manage them.

What Is Behavioral Treatment?

Behavioral treatments are any type of non-pharmacological treatment where the goal is to either increase or decrease a particular behavior. 

Behavioral treatments for ADHD usually consist of 

  • a reward/penalty system to reinforce good behavior (positive reinforcement
  • or discourage bad behavior (negative reinforcement).

Some studies have shown that environmental manipulations such as sensory integration, adult guidance, and order, can be helpful. In addition to reducing external distractions, this approach focuses on teaching the child self-regulation. There is insufficient evidence that these treatments are effective either alone or in combination with medications for ADHD.

Behavioral Treatments for ADHD

1. Behavior Modification

Behavior modification is a standard treatment for ADHD that can be very effective if implemented correctly. This includes positive reinforcement for good behavior as well as negative consequences for bad behavior.

In addition, you should also seek to understand the root causes of unwanted behaviors and address those issues as well.

For example, if your child struggles with staying on task or needs things repeated, you can address this by creating visual aids with step-by-step instructions.

symptoms of ADHD
 (CBT) focuses on changing problematic thoughts

2. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing problematic behaviors, thoughts, and feelings in order to improve one's well-being. It is commonly used with children who have behavior problems such as ADHD because it helps them recognize their feelings and how to express them.

CBT can also help your child recognize when they are having a difficult time in a certain area of life, which allows for them to seek outside help from parents or teachers when needed.

3. Family Therapy

Family therapy is very similar to individual CBT. A therapist works with your family on resolving any positive or negative beliefs they have about themselves that could be affecting their child's behavior.

The main goal of this type of treatment is to encourage healthy communication within the family while also improving parent-child relationships which are both factors that contribute greatly to the overall well-being of children.

4. Social Skills Training

This type of treatment is specifically focused on teaching ADHD patients how to properly socialize with others. This includes learning how to start and maintain conversations, interact in groups and listen to friends or classmates without interrupting them. While this can be a crucial part of school success for children, sometimes they do not learn these skills through personal experience.

You can help your children by taking notice of times when they are doing well in social situations and complimenting them on their behavior. This will allow them to begin to understand what good social behavior looks like, which will make it easier for them to replicate later on.

5. Sensory Integration Therapy

This type of therapy is used to treat children who struggle with sensory processing. In these cases, a therapist will work with the child to find areas in which they feel safe and comfortable. This process helps patients learn how their senses affect them and can make them anxious or uncomfortable.

Therapy can also help ADHD patients by working through any negative emotions they might be having about certain behaviors. For example, if your child is afraid of public speaking, then a therapist can help treat this anxiety.

Bonus Tip: Meditation

Meditation is another behavioral treatment that focuses on recognizing and controlling problematic thoughts and behaviors. This type of treatment teaches children to identify feelings of anxiety and how to deal with them in a healthy manner.

Meditation can aid symptoms of ADHD by teaching children to quiet their minds and reduce stress, which is often the root cause of impulsive behavior such as poor concentration or uncontrolled actions. While there is growing research on the effectiveness of meditation for children, most doctors agree that it can help improve focus and behavior.


When Should You Choose Behavioral Treatment for ADHD?

The decision to use behavioral treatments for ADHD should be made collaboratively between you and your doctor after discussing the benefits and risks of these therapies. If your child is young, you may want to give them time to grow out of their symptoms before using medication or behavioral therapy.

You and your doctor may also consider using behavioral treatments in combination with medication. This allows the dosage of the medications to be lowered which can decrease side effects and improve adherence. Behavioral treatments can also help children learn skills that will help them cope with ADHD symptoms once they are no longer taking medication.

Possible Risks of Behavioral Treatments for ADHD

While there are no direct risks to behavioral treatments, they may not be appropriate if the goal is to improve specific behaviors that are already being targeted by medication. You should discuss with your doctor whether or not behavioral treatment will help you achieve your desired goals.

What Do The Experts Say?

The American Academy of Pediatrics includes behavioral therapy as part of its medical guidelines for the management of ADHD. They recommend both parent- and teacher-administered behavior therapy as a first-line treatment for preschool children with mild to moderate symptoms.

For school-aged children, they recommend that if behavioral therapy is going to be used it should be used in combination with medication.

Experts agree that behavioral therapy may be useful for reducing symptoms of ADHD. However, the lack of high-quality evidence means it is difficult to make conclusions about its effectiveness. More research would help to determine whether behavioral treatments alone or in combination with other therapies are effective for managing ADHD symptoms.


Although behavioral treatments are effective, it is important to note that they do not work for everyone with ADHD. If you feel that your child's ADHD symptoms are more than just a hindrance in their lives, consider talking to your doctor about medication options at your next appointment.

Author: Maleeha of The Ezcare Clinic, a medical clinic that provides world-class healthcare services. Maleeha has been associated with the healthcare industry for over five years and specializes in medical content.


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