This article was originally written by Sarah K. Jenkins
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While medication has long been used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder, Behavioral Therapy has proven to be incredibly effective as well and is now being used in combination with its long utilized counterpart. There are many aspects of Behavior Therapy, but the overall purpose is to train the individual to improve their behavior and be more effective.
There are basically three principles to a behavior therapy approach: set goals that are specific, provide consequences and rewards, and consistently utilize consequences and rewards. Basically, you should lay specific groundwork for acceptable and unacceptable behavior; when either is realized, the consequences, be them positive or negative, should be utilized consistently and continually.
Examples of consequences are time-out, which removes the child from their surroundings for a specific period of time; positive reinforcement, which rewards positive behavior; or a token reward system; which can be added to or taken away from depending on behavior.
There are more in-depth behavior modification techniques that should be utilized to help you child control their behavior. Remember, ADD children suffer from forgetfulness, inattentiveness, impulsiveness, and distractibility. Utilizing a system to reinforce the child’s ability to complete daily activities in spite of these shortcomings will be the most effective. For example, keeping your child on a schedule is a very effective way to keep their activities organized. If they wake up at a certain time, get dressed, take baths, do homework and go to bed at specific times, they will begin to function out of habit, at which point forgetfulness and distractibility become less of an issue.
Likewise, organization helps a child with ADD stay focused and reduces key items being misplaced. Have a set place for books, backpacks, clothes, and toys so your child will react out of habit in returning these items. Typically, routines prove to be an effective treatment course for children with ADD.
You should also be aware of the difficulties your child has, such as distractibility. Limit external stimuli during times when concentration is necessary, such as homework time, or during times when attention is necessary, such as mealtimes.
Help your child stay on task with the use of checklists, charts, or organizers to track responsibilities and monitor progress; as your child ages, this will teach them to function on a daily basis regardless of their disorder. They will learn to write down important tasks and to keep track of things they must accomplish.