If your child gets diagnosed with any sort of disorder, it is natural to experience an array of emotions. Fear, anxiety, and maybe even guilt may intrude your thoughts, but there is a silver lining that comes with diagnosis. It means that your child can receive the care he or she needs through a variety of evidence-based programs! Not only that, but you as the caregiver or parent can also begin to heal and find resources to help you help your child.
Children and adolescents with ADHD (or other behavioral disorders) can lead successful and happy lives in school, at home, and in relationships. Evidence-based treatments can be used alone or in combination with each other, along with other resources such as support groups, medication, tutoring, and behavioral parent training. Behavior Therapy is the most common for ADHD and can help in multiple settings. This type of treatment plan involves rewarding good behaviors in a child while allowing negative behaviors to “extinguish” by ignoring them. It is based on the idea that parents or the child’s environment may unintentionally reward negative behaviors and thoughts, which further reinforces those behaviors and thoughts.
A great example of this is within a school setting. Many children diagnosed with ADHD may have trouble behaving and concentrating in school, as well as handing in assignments on time (if at all). This doesn’t mean that they are stupid or that they don’t have the capacity to do the assignments, but rather they need to be rewarded in a different way. Parents can choose a goal, such as handing in homework assignments or achieving predefined “good” grades. After the goal is chosen, a reward system can come into play. The age of the child will be important in choosing the reward system. For example, a young child may benefit from receiving a sticker when they hand in their homework, which can add up to buying a new toy when they get a certain amount. For teenagers, using the car at the end of the week would be a more suitable goal. All of this is to say that the reward needs to be relevant to the particular child, and it needs to be tied to a specific goal. Over time, completing the task gets easier and a new goal can be implemented.
Along with behavior therapy, it is important to realize that a comprehensive program will work best. There are many options for treatment, and all or some of the following options can be considered to find a plan that works for your child:
- Get educated about ADHD (this should be a top priority in any plan!)
- Behavioral therapy
- ADHD medication
- Mental health counseling for you, your child, or your whole family
- Classes on what you can do as a parent to follow the behavioral plan
- Work together with teachers and the school system. 504 Plans are available in school so your child can be accommodated in whatever way necessary.
Above all, realize that ADHD is a treatable disorder that can be helped with the right treatment plan. Your child can succeed in school, at home, and in relationships so long as they are provided the tools they need and support from their loved ones. You can be a great influencer in your child’s life, and work with them to meet goals and lead a happy productive life!
Here are some strategies that are helpful for children and teens with ADHD.
As always, if you have any questions for our team of trained professionals about ADHD or other disorder, we are here to help! Feel free to reach out via phone (908) 914-2624 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).