Does Behavioural Therapy Work for ADHD Child?

Behavioural Therapy Work for ADHD Child

If your child is being diagnosed with ADHD, there are many treatments available. Even though ADHD is not completely curable, the severity of the symptoms can be reduced by using various types of therapies. Behavioural therapy is proved as one of the most effective therapy to cure ADHD. Behaviour therapy helps your child manage his/her ADHD symptoms. 

Behaviour Therapy is a therapy that focuses on actions and not on emotions. It can teach your child how to convert his/her negative, disruptive energy into a positive, constructive one. Behaviour therapy recognizes the limits that ADHD puts on a child. It focuses on how the important people and places in the child’s life can adapt to encourage good behaviour and discourage unwanted behaviour.  Along with therapy, sometimes medications also need to be taken in a few cases. For others, only behavioural treatment might also work.

Related Blog: Child Counselling: Types, Benefits, Importance, Challenges

What is Behavioural Therapy?

Behaviour therapy is an umbrella term that describes a variety of therapies to change maladaptive or negative behaviours. Behavioural therapy aims to imbibe positive changes in an individual by removing the negative behaviour. Here, the negative behaviour itself is called the problem and the goal is to teach people new behaviours to eliminate the negative behaviour. The therapy claims that – Any behaviour can be fixed by learning a new positive behaviour. This is the type of therapy that is purely based on actions and that’s why it is extremely focused. Behaviour therapy can help people with a wide range of disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD, etc. 

Types Of Behavioural Therapy

There are plenty of different types available of behavioural therapy. The subtype of behaviour therapy used depends upon factors such as the condition being treated, the severity of the symptoms, support the person is getting, etc.

A few of the common types of behavioural therapy are:

1) Applied Behaviour Analysis

Applied Behaviour analysis is the scientific study of behaviour. It focuses on understanding why people behave in a specific manner, how their behaviour can be modified, and how certain negative behaviours can be prevented. By implementing the principles of learning theory, behaviour analysts can improve the quality of life for individuals and families. This type 

is often used in mental health treatment to help people overcome problem behaviours. It can also be helpful in organizational settings to enhance employee performance. 

2) Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)

This therapy was mainly designed to treat borderline personality disorder. DBT may be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviours. It teaches patients skills to cope with, and change, unhealthy behaviours. This therapy can often be useful with disorders such as PTSD, depression, etc. 

3) Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people to learn to identify and change destructive or disturbing thought patterns that have a negative influence on behavior and emotions into positive or neutral ones. It focuses on changing the automatic negative thoughts that can contribute to and worsen emotional difficulties, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Through CBT, these negative thoughts are identified, challenged, and replaced with more objective, realistic thoughts.

4) Cognitive Behavioural Play Therapy (CBPT)

This is a therapeutic intervention meant especially for younger children (2.5 – 8 years). Here, the child takes an active role in the process of change and mastery of problems. 

5) Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT)

This is the therapy developed by Albert Ellis and is considered one of the most effective therapy under the umbrella of behaviour therapy. The therapy believes that people hold irrational thoughts and beliefs about the world which creates problems in an individual. REBT tries to erase those irrational thoughts and replace them with rational ones to make one’s life better. 

6) Exposure Therapy

This therapy is especially useful for disorders such as social anxiety, phobia, etc. It is a psychological therapy that was developed to help people confront their fears, anxieties, worries, etc. When people are fearful of something, they tend to avoid the feared objects, activities, or situations. This avoidance might help reduce feelings of fear temporarily but, over the long term, it can make the fear even worse. In such situations, a psychologist might recommend a program of exposure therapy to help break the pattern of avoidance and fear. In this form of therapy, psychologists create a safe environment in which to “expose” the individuals to the things they fear and avoid. Exposure to the feared objects, activities, or situations in a safe environment helps reduce fear and decrease avoidance.

Does Behavioural Therapy Work for ADHD Child?

Behaviour therapy is an effective treatment for ADHD. This therapy can improve a child’s behaviour, self-control, and self-esteem. It is most effective in young children when it is delivered by parents themselves. Parent training is recommended for younger children (below 6 years) before prescribing ADHD medication. 

When parents become trained in behaviour therapy, they learn skills and strategies to help their child with ADHD succeed at school, at home, and in relationships. Learning and practicing behaviour therapy requires time and effort, but it has lasting benefits for the child and the family as well.

Behaviour therapy teaches your child skills that will help them in strengthening good behaviours, limiting disruptive, negative behaviours, and teaching a child to express themselves more peacefully. Used with or without medication, behavioural therapy can help your child curb symptoms of hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness.

It can help your child do better in school, home, and other areas but you have to stick with it and be consistent. Remember that it takes time to learn new skills. Don’t expect changes right away. Behaviour improvements may be slow at first. But with patience, persistence, and teamwork, it should get better.

What type of behaviour therapy is the most effective for ADHD?

For kids whose ADHD is creating conflict at home and getting them into trouble at school, therapy can help them repair the problematic behaviour and establish more positive relationships with the adults in their lives. It’s called, generally, parent training because it involves working with the parents and children together. It trains parents to interact differently with children, to elicit desirable behaviour on the part of the child and discourage behaviour that’s causing them trouble.

Young children having ADHD can also benefit from systems that encourage positive behaviour, like the Daily Report Card at their schools. These approaches pinpoint specific goals for behaviour in school, give kids feedback on how they’re doing, and reward them for meeting those goals successfully. Here, parents and teachers can work together to decrease the severity of symptoms.

Apart from these, a few techniques can also work such as – 

1) Checklists – These can be useful for anything from getting ready neatly on time in the morning to keep things in their place to the bedtime routine. Since the steps necessary for completing a task often aren’t obvious to kids with ADHD, defining them ahead of time, and posting them prominently, makes a task less daunting and more achievable.

2) Time limit – This is most commonly used by educational therapists for each step, particularly in bigger projects. 

3) Reward charts – Giving a positive reinforcement or reward for acceptable behaviour encourages the child to perform the particular task again and again which reduces the frequency of negative behaviour and also gets replaced by positive behaviour. 

4) Using a planner – This is very beneficial for the kids who often tend to forget things such as deadlines to submit homework, assignments, etc. 

To summarize, a pure form of Behaviour Therapy with CBT can be most beneficial for children with ADHD. 

What behaviour therapy is used for ADHD?   

Behavioural therapy can help children with ADHD manage their symptoms. Therapy can teach skills and coping mechanisms that can help make overwhelming tasks feel easier for them to accomplish. Most commonly parent training along with CBT and pure behaviour therapy sessions with the child himself/herself works best to treat ADHD. 

For children having ADHD, behavioural therapy works with the whole family to create strategies that reward positive behaviours. Adults with ADHD often benefit from learning to reframe their thoughts and analyze their behaviours with CBT.


Behavioural therapy for ADHD involves identifying problematic behaviours and working to substitute positive ones. Research suggests that it is an effective way to manage symptoms of ADHD in children, teenagers, and adults as well. A doctor may suggest that a person with ADHD also takes medication for the most effective results. Sometimes, medications along with therapy show quick and sustaining results, it depends on the severity. 

If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, as a parent it is natural to worry. But, look out for better options and look for the best treatment options. One non-medication approach that can be helpful for some kids is behaviour therapy for ADHD. The goal of behaviour therapy is to replace a child’s negative actions and habits with positive ones and parents are the ones who lead the process.

Further Reading:

How To Deal With An ADHD Child At Home?

Does Counseling Help Children with ADHD?

What Causes Aggressive Behaviour In Child

How to Handle Stubborn and Aggressive Child?

Counseling for ADHD Child

If you’re looking for the best Counselling for your child with ADHD in Pune, Maharashtra, India; we’re happy to help you. Click on the link here to book a session with us now.


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Sawani Oak

Counselor, Team WAITT

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