Therapy Techniques for Treating ADHD
Medication and cognitive training can be highly effective in helping increase attention, reduce hyperactivity, and reduce impulsivity. Read about these treatments for ADHD. But sometimes, these treatments are not enough and adding social skills training, behavioral therapy, parent training, or individual therapy can be extremely helpful.
Social Skills Training
A hallmark of children with ADHD is that they often act without thinking. That is, they are able to state rules, but have difficulty internalizing them and using them consistently because they have difficulty “slowing down.” This difficulty can negatively affect their relationships with peers as well as teachers and even parents who might become tired or frustrated with their behaviors. For this reason, sometimes it is helpful for children to participate in clubs, on teams, or in other organized activities so that they can get positive peer experiences in structured settings that are fun. In addition, some children benefit from social skills groups with other children who have ADHD so that they can learn from each other, increase their social skills, and even increase their sense of self-esteem and they realize that they are not so different from other children.
Often children with ADHD struggle with remembering to complete chores, or lose their homework, or have difficulty completing school projects. Research has shown that behavioral therapy is another important part of treatment for children with ADHD. Some common recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics include:
- Creating a routine- try following a daily schedule including bed and wake times, regular meal times, and routines for chores
- Getting organized- try putting your child’s school bag, clothes, or toys in the same place every day so they are less likely to lose them.
- Avoiding distractions- find a quiet place for your child to do their homework that is free from distractions of noise (other people, the TV, or the radio) and free from distractions of toys or other objects on their desk or near them in the room.
- Keeping it short and simple- limit choices to two things (to wear, eat, activities) so that your child does not become overwhelmed. Also, keep explanations clear and brief. Give information in short chunks at a time and give gentle reminders.
- Increasing the positive- use goals and rewards for tracking positive behaviors. Remember to keep it short and simple- small steps are important so that your child feels a sense of accomplishment and does not become discouraged. Similarly, help your child find out what they enjoy and do well. Encourage that to help them build their self-esteem.
Parents often find that the same techniques they use with their other children do not work the same with their child who has ADHD. This does not mean that parents are ineffective, but only that their child needs some different approaches or techniques. Parent training can be conducted in groups or individually and are often offered by therapists. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) offers an educational program to help parents address the challenges of ADHD across the lifespan.
Sometimes children continue to struggle with low self-esteem, low mood, or continued temper tantrums despite these other treatments. With these instances, individual therapy can be helpful. Find a mental health professional who specializes in working with children and they can work and your child with you to address these symptoms so that your child can be happier and feel more confident and successful.