Parenting children with Attention Deficit Disorder is difficult and often times exhausting. Parents often find themselves yelling and nagging their children to hurry up, calm down or help out. These parents need a solution for everyone’s sanity and happiness. However, the option of using a stimulant drug like Ritalin scares many parents. What other ADD and ADHD treatment options exist? Is there a safe and permanent solution available?

Brain Training

Picture children wearing headphones clapping to a consistent beat. Now see them tapping their toes to the beat or patting their opposite knee to the beat. It is hard to imagine that these movements could improve symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder, but it is true. As children work up to a certain speed and accuracy, they are helping specific parts of the brain become more efficient. This new efficiency is permanent and it helps improve attention, ability to follow directions, organization, self-control, reading and math. Students practice these movements in front of their home computer for about six weeks.

It is known that exercise helps the brain. Charles H. Hillman, Ph.D., an associate professor of Kinesiology Community Health at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign explains that exercise “improves attention, memory, accuracy, and how quickly you process information, all of which helps you make smarter decisions.” Brain Training uses specific exercises to provide a safe process to improve the symptoms related to ADD and ADHD.

Possible Drawbacks:

1. Results from this type of ADD and ADHD treatment require consistent practice during the six week period. This involves forty minutes of training five days a week.
2. Some children may need a few weeks of pre-training to be able to complete the program.

Behavior Modifications

Behavior Modification is an ADD and ADHD treatment that seeks to change unwanted behaviors by focusing on rewarding the positive instead of punishing the negative.

It involves noticing when children with Attention Deficit Disorder are doing the right thing and praising them. The logic being that children want a positive relationship with their parents, so they will want to behave in ways that gets them the positive feedback.

In order to accomplish this, parents decide on one unwanted behavior to work on at a time. They give a pep talk to the student and discuss alternative ways to react or brainstorm ways to improve. Then parents deliberately seek out moments when their child is completing the goal and comment on them.

Possible Drawbacks:

1. Behavior Modification is an ADD and ADHD treatment that requires a lot of energy and consistency from parents.

2. It only works to change one (maybe two) behaviors at a time. If parents can’t find any moment that the child is succeeding, the goal may be inappropriate for children with Attention Deficit Disorder or it may be too big.

    o An example of an inappropriate goal is for the child to sit still until the homework is complete. An alternative could be “We’ll break the homework into 20 minute chunks with three minute breaks. No video games until the homework is finished.”

    o Example of a goal that is too big: Keep your room neat. Most parents would have difficulty catching their children consistently succeeding with that one. A smaller task is easier to achieve “Keep all your dirty clothes in the laundry basket.” Parents can add on other smaller tasks after students succeed with the first one!

3. Praise can only achieve so much with children with Attention Deficit Disorder. Their ability to maintain focus, organize themselves or follow through to finish tasks is limited by the ADD. Behavior Modification can help families improve the situation, but for children with ADD or ADHD it is unlikely to complete turnaround.

When combined together Brain Training and Behavior Modifications make a firm path to success for struggling students. The Brain Training addresses the root of the issue providing a solid foundation on which to learn. Behavior Modification then offers practice that helps children integrate more into their family and school community.

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