Behavior Therapy for Young Children With ADHD: An Overview for Parents and Caregivers [downloadable]

You can help your young child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by learning parenting strategies that encourage positive behaviors and discourage negative ones. Behavior therapy for young children with ADHD gives parents the knowledge and skills they need to help their child succeed.

Behavior therapy is an important first step for children under 6 with ADHD and should be tried first, before medication. Ask your doctor about behavior therapy for young children with ADHD.

What is behavior therapy?

Behavior therapy is an effective treatment that improves ADHD symptoms without the side effects of medicine. It is an important first step for young children with ADHD and most effective when it is delivered by parents. It teaches parents how to create structure and reinforce good behavior. By attending training sessions with a therapist, you can learn how to

  • ƒ Have a better understanding of your child’s behavior.ƒ
  • Encourage positive behaviors and discourage negative ones. ƒ
  • Help your child be successful at home and school.

Why should parents try behavior therapy first, before medication?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children 4-5 years of age with ADHD be treated with behavior therapy first, before trying medication. Parent training in behavior therapy is an important first step because

  • ƒ It gives parents the skills and strategies to help their child. ƒ Behavior therapy has been shown to work as well as medication for ADHD in young children.
  • ƒ Young children have more side effects from ADHD medications than older children.
  • ƒ The long-term effects of ADHD medications on young children have not been well-studied.

Download a PDF of this fact sheet.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention | Fact Sheets About ADHD, | public domain

To schedule an evaluation or to get advice about your child’s challenges, call or email a CHC Care Coordinator at 650.688.3625 or

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