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Behavioral Therapy for ADHD Kids/Teens

Most of the time, when a child is diagnosed with ADHD, the doctor involved sets up a treatment plan for the child that’s in accordance with the parents’ wishes. I’ve noticed, however, that a huge percentage of people don’t opt for therapy as a way to treat their child’s ADHD.

I think most of the time, it’s because therapy is incredibly time consuming, and it really just doesn’t work with the parents’ schedules. Think about it. If both parents involved (or the sole parent if it’s a single-parent family) have jobs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and therapy offices are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., how is a parent supposed to get their child to therapy? Especially when therapy is often suggested to be used multiple times per week.


I have no idea how some families would manage that.

I’m sure there are a myriad of other reasons why people don’t use therapy as a form of treatment, but I think the lack of options leaves a lot of people curious about what therapy sessions actually look like. So for those of you who have (or know) a child with ADHD, I’m here to give you a glimpse into what therapy entails, as well as why it’s beneficial.

This week, I’m going to explain behavioral therapy for ADHD. (Next week, I’ll tell you about occupational therapy, which is usually co-prescribed with behavioral therapy for ADHD kids.)

According to, behavioral therapy is “a treatment that helps change potentially self-destructing behaviors. It is also called behavioral modification or cognitive behavioral therapy. Medical professionals use this type of therapy to replace bad habits with good ones. The therapy also helps you cope with difficult situations.”

You may be thinking, “Having ADHD doesn’t make someone a bad kid … so why are they being treated like they’ve done something wrong?”

That’s actually not the idea behind it at all. A lot of kids with ADHD find themselves “in trouble” more frequently than other kids because of the symptoms that accompany their diagnosis. ADHD brings about inability to focus, inability to unfocus, impulsiveness, and hyperactivity (or too much energy).

All those symptoms added together make ADHD kids/teens way more prone to doing things that are against the rules, whether it be at home, at daycare, at school, or in public. Behavioral therapy is a great way for ADHD children to learn what is acceptable and what isn’t, and how to get from point A to point B.

My nephew, Felix, used to go to behavioral therapy with his parents two times per week. When they first arrived for their session, the therapist would ask Felix’s parents what he was struggling with that particular week [in regards to his ADHD], and Felix got free-play time while they talked.

Depending on what he needed help/direction with, the therapist would either read books with him, tell him funny stories, do a family activity with everyone, play a game with him, or talk to him about his emotions using an ADHD-friendly emotions chart. And many times, the therapy would create a simple lesson plan for the family to take home for the week.

Now, Felix is in school so he doesn’t do at-home behavioral therapy anymore. Instead, he participates in it three times per week at school. They work on problems he’s having at school, and they work the therapy right into his daily schedule. This is a much easier option for working parents with school-aged children!

This was a tiny glimpse into the window of behavioral therapy, but there’s so much more to tell. If you have any questions about behavioral therapy for your ADHD child, please reach out to me and I can probably point you in the right direction! I’d love to talk with you more on the subject.

I’d also love to hear about the experiences any of you might have had (or are currently having) with behavioral therapy for your ADHD kiddos! If you have stories to share, comment below. Specific communities like this are so strong, and they’re such a great way for caregivers to get connected with one another.

I look forward to hearing from everyone!

*** Stay tuned for next week’s post entitled “Occupational Therapy for ADHD Kids/Teens.” ***

Behavioral Therapy for ADHD Kids/Teens

W. R. Cummings

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APA Reference
Cummings, W. (2016). Behavioral Therapy for ADHD Kids/Teens. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Jan 2016
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