Behavior therapy is the first step when you have a young child diagnosed with ADHD. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children younger than 6 years old receive behavior management, which includes parent training by a licensed therapist, before medication is added to a treatment plan.
But finding a behavior treatment program for your child can be a challenge for you and your child’s health care provider.
The recent Vital Signs report from the CDC includes information on behavior therapy and helpful links to help parents and providers find therapists. Other resources to help you find a behavior therapist include the following:
CHADD Professional Directory
Professionals Who Diagnose and Treat ADHD
Hospital and University Centers for ADHD
Additional local resources can be found through hospital and university children’s health programs, state and county health departments, or independent clinics addressing children’s mental health. Some therapists will have training or certification in a program that has been proven to work in young children with ADHD. Programs that have been shown to be effective include:
Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
Incredible Years Parent Program
Triple P – Positive Parenting Program
Questions you should ask before beginning to work with a program are:
Does this program teach parents skills and strategies that use positive reinforcement, structure, and consistent discipline to manage their child’s behavior?
Does this program teach parents positive ways to interact and communicate with their child?
Will we meet regularly with the program facilitator to monitor progress and provide coaching and support?
Does the facilitator work with me to re-evaluate and remain flexible enough to adjust strategies as needed?
Your child’s health care provider can be a good source of information on local programs and resources. It’s important to continue the conversation on your child’s progress during regular health care visits. For more information on behavior therapy, visit Parent Education and Training.