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Behavior Modification And ADHD


According to, “Behavior modification is a treatment approach, based on the principles of operant conditioning, that replaces undesirable behaviors with more desirable ones through positive or negative reinforcement.  Behavior modification is used to treat a variety of problems in both adults and children. Behavior modification has been successfully used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), phobias, enuresis (bed-wetting), generalized anxiety disorder , and separation anxiety disorder , among others.”  In this particular article, we will focus on the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder through behavior modification principles.  This opening paragraph has focused on what behavior modification is.  In the remainder of these paragraphs, I will focus on the four hallmarks of an effective behavioral intervention plan for individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The Four Hallmarks For An Effective Behavioral Intervention Plan

According to, there are four hallmarsk for an effective behavioral intervention plan.  They are based on the following information:

  • Consistency: Parents or caregivers and/or teachers must show consistent adherence to a specified behavioral plan and be willing to implement it in virtually all circumstances. In addition, the child should understand that the consequences of the plan are in place and will be enforced by all adults and at all times.
  • Immediacy: Once a behavior has occurred, the consequences should be immediately administered. A time lag between the behavior and consequence results in a weak association between the two, rendering the intervention ineffective.
  • Specificity: Parents or caregivers and teachers should be explicit about which behaviors are being targeted by the intervention and the specified consequences—whether reinforcement or punishment—of each behavior. Stating “Your careful attention to your math problems has earned you 10 minutes of screen time” is much clearer and more explicit than saying “Good job on your homework.”
  • Saliency: To maximize effects on behavior, consequences should be meaningful and noticeable to the child. Consequences that go unnoticed or that hold no value for the child will have negligible effects on behavior.


To end this specific article, behavioral modification for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is based on four principles, that include consistency, immediacy, specificity, and saliency.  To be specific, consistency is essential for an effective behavioral intervention plan to be implemented.  Two, once a behavior has occurred, the consequences should be administered immediately.  Three, the consequences of the behavior should be specified, whether they consist of reinforcement or punishment.  Last, consequences should be noticeable.

Behavior Modification And ADHD

Lauren Walters

My name is Lauren Walters. I am currently heading into my final semester of graduate school for Mental Health Counseling in the Spring of 2016. Through my own experiences with mental illness, I love to inspire others through my writings and reassure them that they can live healthy, productive lives, despite mental illness. I hope you enjoy my articles. Feel free to comment. I will be sure to respond to you questions and/or comments in a prompt manner. Enjoy!

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APA Reference
Walters, L. (2016). Behavior Modification And ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Nov 2016
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