Children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are at a much higher risk of developing noncompliant or negative behaviors than a child who does not have ADHD.
The very nature of ADHD implies that the child will have difficulty with self-control, paying attention, listening to instructions at home and school, and following directions. Some children seem to be predisposed to develop behavior problems by their temperament; however, the symptoms of ADHDincluding hyperactivity, impulsivity, or inattentionseem to exacerbate these negative behaviors. Managing these negative behaviors often becomes a full-time job for parents.
Treatment for the ADHD child usually requires a comprehensive approach. It includes school support, medications if needed, parent/child education regarding ADHD and its treatment, and behavioral management techniques. Managing the negative behaviors of a child with ADHD often seems like an overwhelming and daunting task; however, such behaviors can be managed effectively with a good plan in place.
Behavior modification rewards positive behaviors and aims to decrease negative ones.
Setting Up a Behavior Modification Plan
Choose a negative behavior that you want to change and a positive behavior that you would like to see start or continue. Start by choosing a behavior that your child can begin to work on immediately and that he or she realistically will be able to change. It is not very motivating for children to fail in their initial attempts. Your child will want to give up right away.
Make sure you set specific goals. For example, you would like to see your child make the bed each day, unload the dishwasher, come to dinner on time, or get an A in math. You would like to see your child stop refusing to get out of bed in the morning, interrupting when others are speaking, refusing to complete homework, or talking back.
Set up a Home Token Economy to implement your behavior management plan. A token economy is simply a contract between the child and parents. It states that if a child acts or behaves in a certain way, the parents will agree to trade tokens for a particular reward or privilege.
In setting up a token economy, focus on only a few goals at a time. Your behavior plan can be as short or as long as you want; however, I have found that more complicated plans are less likely to succeed.
Allow your child to be involved in setting up the behavior plan but don’t let yourself be manipulated. Make sure you are firm and clear regarding the behaviors you want to see started and stopped. When a child becomes part of the plan and is able to pick the rewards and the consequences he or she usually will work harder to achieve it.
For the plan to work, token values need to be high enough to be motivational. Assign each behavior a value between 1 and 25. The behaviors you really want to see changed are those that have a higher token valueand also are those that are more difficult to change. For example, you might assign a value of 5 to making the bed each morning, 10 to unloading the dishwasher, and 20 to getting out of bed on time. You would subtract tokens for negative behaviors such as interrupting others, refusing to do homework and getting poor grades.
The behavior plan is to be implemented each day. Set up a convenient time to review your child’s performance and determine how many tokens have been earned or lost. Keep a running tab on the total number of tokens and how many have been “cashed in” for privileges or rewards.