Behavioral therapy has been around since the early 20th century with roots that reach as far back as the Roman times. Behavioral therapy emphasizes improving behavior, in combination with thoughts and feelings.
Behavioral therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are well known to be effective tools for improving mental health for many different types of mental ailments including depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and post traumatic stress disorder.
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider using behavioral therapy for your child’s ADHD.
Using behavioral therapy as a treatment for ADHD
- Behavioral therapy does no harm compared to drugs
Behavioral therapy is focused on changing behavior. Behavioral therapy uses techniques and strategies to bring about better outcomes. Often, it focuses on using positive parenting techniques, family ecosystems and other external behavioral influences to treat a child with ADHD.
Techniques like using reward stickers, goal charts, checklists and schedules are some common behavioral techniques used for kids with ADHD.
Since behavioral therapy involves working on current problems and helping your child adopt better behavior, some stress can be involved as your child transitions through the change. However, both your child and you will benefit from not avoiding the stress of change, especially if it means less conflict, unhappiness, uncertainty and long-term stress.
- Behavioral therapy does not have potential negative side effects that medication may have
Medication is a blessing when it is prescribed correctly and taken in the right amounts. However, ADHD medication can also cause side effects such as sleep problems, headaches, decreased appetite and even impact growth.
Please be clear that we are not advocating that you should replace medication with behavioral therapy only (although in some cases, this may be suitable). Instead, we are saying that you should at least consider using behavioral therapy together with medication.
Unlike medication, behavioral therapy does not involve ingesting anything into your child’s body so you won’t have to worry about chemical side effects.
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- You can get actively involved in the treatment
Besides feeling exhausted and overwhelmed when dealing with a child with ADHD, you may also feel powerless. Many times, you may feel that there is nothing that you can do to help your child, especially when your child ignores your attempts to help him or her.
Medication often does not help you feel in control as you cannot see what the medication is doing to your child and you often can only hope and pray that the medication is effective and appropriate for your child.
On the other hand, because behavioral therapy is generally more goal and action-oriented, you are encouraged to be actively involved as part of the treatment. Behavioral therapy allows you to actively participate in your child’s progress and development and help him or her cope with challenges.
Instead of feeling helpless while you watch ‘the medical experts’ work on your child, you are now an important part of helping your child manage his or her ADHD.
- Behavioral therapy teaches coping strategies which are useful for any child
Behavioral therapy focuses on solving problematic behavior with coping strategies and tools. These tools may include examining a child’s thought process and resulting emotions, evaluating which are helpful and which are not and then making choices of what to do next.
For example, you may receive guidance on how to set up appropriate schedules in your child’s day, how to create a positive environment that reinforces positive behavior, creating checklists so that your child doesn’t forget his or her homework and how to take a step back when things feel too much.
In fact, these strategies are useful for any adult too! How many adults could do with some behavioral therapy huh?
- Your child doesn’t need to be dependent/reliant on it forever to function
One of the other huge downsides of medication is that there is a risk that some medication may result in long-term dependency. When your child gets used to receiving medication on a regular basis, the body often adjusts to the medication and starts to become dependent on it to function.
For example, think of sugar. Even though you can technically stop eating sugar whenever you want, the body starts to crave it when it’s used to having that amount of sugar on a regular basis.
Unlike medication, behavioral therapy is about strategies and techniques so you and your child are free to adjust, add or delete them whenever you want to suit your situation. If something isn’t working, stop doing it. If something works, keep it up. You won’t have to worry about the impact of making such changes unlike drugs.
At the end of the day, despite whatever has been written above, you ultimately have to make the decision of what’s best for your child. So read as much as you can, trust your gut and be kind to yourself.