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Behavioral Interventions for Children With ADHD

by Amy Morin

Children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder require specific behavioral interventions to help them learn to manage their symptoms. Inattention can cause problems with listening and following directions. Impulsiveness can lead to aggression or unsafe behaviors such as running into a parking lot without looking for cars. Hyperactivity can make it difficult to complete tasks or sit for more than a few minutes at a time. Although parenting a child with ADHD presents challenges, some parenting strategies can help kids better manage their behavior.

Establish a Routine

According to the Child Development Institute, kids with ADHD do best when they have a predictable routine. Create a consistent daily schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Post a written copy of the schedule in a prominent location to remind kids when to do their chores, complete their homework and when they can have free time. For children who don't yet read, a picture schedule can provide helpful reminders about when to complete tasks such as brushing their teeth, getting dressed or combing their hair.

Give Effective Instructions

Kids with ADHD need to have instructions given to them in a manner they can understand. The Child Development Institute recommends reducing any distractions before trying to give instructions. Shut off the TV or pause a video game when necessary. Instead of yelling from the next room, get close when giving instructions. Establish eye contact or place a hand on your child's shoulder to ensure you have your child's attention. Avoid giving chain commands because that can easily overwhelm a child with ADHD. Instead, offer instructions one step at a time. Say, "Please put away your shoes." When your child completes that task, say, "Get out your homework, please.

Provide Consequences

According to MayoClinic.com, time-out can be a good consequence for misbehavior because kids with ADHD can become over-stimulated easily. Remove a disruptive child from the environment and place him in a quiet area or separate room. Time-out can be relatively brief, as long as it gives your child the opportunity to calm his body and mind. If your child refuses to go to time-out and refuses to remain in time-out, remove a privilege. Take away privileges such as video game time, TV time or a favorite toy.

Offer Rewards

Sometimes kids with ADHD need help with specific behaviors. KidsHealth.org recommends that parents use reward systems to help kids change their behavior. Point systems often work well for kids with ADHD. Provide points for exhibiting the desired behavior such as using an inside voice. Allow your child to exchange the points for bigger rewards such as watching a movie, choosing a meal or having a friend over. As your child masters each skill, establish new goals of increasing difficulty.

About the Author

Amy Morin has been writing about parenting, relationships, health and lifestyle issues since 2009. Her work appears in many print and online publications, including Mom.me and Global Post. Morin works as a clinical therapist and a college psychology instructor. Morin received her Master of Social Work from the University of New England.

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