The number of children affected by ADHD has risen sharply over the years, presenting a challenge for parents and doctors alike. The good news is that since ADHD has been extensively studied, researchers have discovered a number of treatment options. Although ADHD cannot be cured, your child’s pediatrician can tailor a specific treatment plan that can help your child to lead a happy and productive life.

Medications for ADHD 

For many children with ADHD, stimulant medications are commonly prescribed and they have proven to be safe and effective at managing the symptoms associated with the condition. These types of drugs work by activating circuits within the brain that promote focused behavior and attention, which significantly reduces hyperactivity. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 80% of children with ADHD show significant improvement after taking stimulants. A variety of forms are available, including extended-release, immediate-acting, and short-acting.

Therapy 

Your child’s pediatrician will likely recommend a combination of therapy and medication. Numerous therapeutic options are available, including:

  • Psychotherapy—This treatment option allows children to talk openly about their thoughts and feelings. It also allows them to discover methods that will help them control their symptoms and identify negative patterns of behavior.
  • Social skills training—With social skills training, children will learn how to respond appropriately in a variety of settings and situations. This can include how to respond to teasing and learning how to wait, share, or ask someone for help.
  • Behavior therapy—There are a variety of ways to approach behavior therapy. The overall goal of this treatment is for children to learn how they can change their behavior when facing a difficult or challenging situation.
  • Parenting skills training—Parents play a crucial role in the treatment of a child with ADHD. Parents will need to learn the skills that are necessary in guiding a child’s behavior. Offering positive feedback for positive behaviors that they want to reinforce and redirecting or ignoring inappropriate behaviors can accomplish this.

Successful treatment of a child with ADHD is often a group effort, and involves the participation of the child, parents, teachers, pediatrician, and occasionally, psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists. Since ADHD is a chronic condition, it requires an ongoing commitment to treatment.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, January 2019

Takeaways

  • While ADHD cannot be cured, symptoms can be successfully managed with treatment.
  • Stimulants are commonly prescribed, and they have significantly reduced symptoms for nearly 80 percent of children with ADHD.
  • The goal of therapy is to establish specific goals for your child and develop a system with rewards for improvements and negative feedback for unwanted behaviors.
  • Successful treatment requires participation from everyone involved, with an ongoing commitment to meeting treatment goals.

References

  1. American Academy of Pediatrics. What You Need to Know About ADHD.
  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
  3. Mayo Clinic. ADHD in Children.

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