Children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can learn how to manage the disorder with help from parents who have been trained in behavioral strategies.
The estimated number of U.S. children with ADHD is about 6 million, according to a 2016 national parent survey, and reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Young boys are more likely to be diagnosed than girls.
The CDC also states that “behavior therapy is an effective treatment for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that can improve a child’s behavior, self-control, and self-esteem.”
Parents are the best resources for helping children work through the challenges of ADHD. They can attend behavior management therapy with the child and learn positive strategies to manage the child’s self-control, impulsivity, and behavior. Children younger than age 12 benefit most from behavior management therapy.
The National Institute of Mental Health defines attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as “a disorder marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development.”
According to KidsHealth from The Nemours Foundation, a children’s pediatric health system, ADHD is diagnosed after a visit with the doctor where they ask questions about the child’s health, behavior, and activity. The doctor will ask parents what they have noticed about the child, ask the parents to go through a complete checklist on the child’s behavior, and possibly ask parents to give a checklist to the child’s teacher also.
Once all this information is collected, the doctor can diagnose ADHD if it is definite that:
The CDC notes that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, (DSM-V) states that six of the nine symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity before age 12 must be demonstrated. The symptoms also must impair the person’s functioning in more than one setting – home, school, or work.
Note that six or more of these symptoms need to be observed for at least six months and that they are not appropriate for their developmental age:
Based on these symptoms, the DSM-V lists three types of ADHD that can be diagnosed:
It is essential for parents to talk with the child’s health care provider before assuming their child has ADHD. Most young children exhibit some degree of inattentiveness and hyperactivity. An experienced medical and/or mental health professional can be beneficial in determining if the child has ADHD.
Children with ADHD can be stressful to manage. They are more likely not to pay attention in class and, therefore, miss assignments. It is possible that their hyperactivity and impulsiveness can deter their peers. They tend to get hurt more often. Parents can be a strong, positive influence on their children. This is how parenting plays a role in ADHD treatment.
Behavior modification strategies that parents can learn and practice at home help keep children with ADHD on target. Some of the strategies utilized are:
The CDC recommends talking first to the child’s doctor to help find a qualified therapist for parent behavior management training and child behavior management training, both of which are evidence-based.
There is no doubt that a child with ADHD can be more than a handful to raise. Fortunately, there is help available and professionals to speak with to gain an understanding of the behavior and how to work with a child with ADHD.
(n.d.) U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Data and Statistics About ADHD. Facts about ADHD. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
(September 2019). The National Institute of Mental Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd/index.shtml
(November 2017). KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation. ADHD. How Is ADHD Diagnosed?. Hasan, S. MD. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/adhd.html
Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition. American Psychiatric Association (2013). from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/diagnosis.html
(August 5, 2019). VeryWellMind. ADHD in Children Symptoms and Treatment. Low, K., Gans, S. MD. Retrieved from https://www.verywellmind.com/adhd-in-children-20844
(September 26, 2019). U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children's Mental Health. Therapy to Improve Children’s Mental Health. National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/parent-behavior-therapy.html#finding-therapy