Behavior Therapy for ADHD
Learn what parents can do to make a difference for their child.
As a parent of a child with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you know that raising a child with ADHD can be tough. By understanding the treatment options that work, you can keep your child on a path to a healthy future.
Medicine is a common treatment for ADHD. It can help decrease the main symptoms, such as having trouble paying attention or being overly active, particularly in children 6 years and older. However, some children continue to have trouble controlling their behavior with medicine.
You may not be aware of another effective treatment option: behavior therapy. Behavior therapy [466 KB] helps children learn or strengthen positive behaviors and reduce unwanted or problem behaviors. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends behavior therapy first for children under 6 years of age, and a combination of medication and behavior therapy for children age 6 and older.
Parent Training in Behavior Therapy
The type of behavior therapy recommended for preschool and elementary school-aged children focuses on training parents. Typically, parents are trained by a therapist over the course of 8 to 16 sessions to learn approaches that encourage positive behavior, address negative behavior, improve communication, and strengthen their relationship with their child. Parents who are trained in behavior therapy can help their child with ADHD to succeed at school, home, and in relationships.
It takes time and effort to learn and practice behavior therapy, but it can have lasting benefits for children with ADHD. Ask your child’s doctor if behavior therapy is right for your child.
To learn more:
- Read an overview of behavior therapy for ADHD. [466 KB]
- Read how to find a therapist. [974 KB]
- Watch a webinar about behavior therapy.
What is CDC Doing?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Focus for the Future initiative is committed to helping children with ADHD. We work to understand ADHD through data and research, share and raise awareness about the latest findings, and connect more families to treatment that is based on the best available medical evidence of success so that they get the support they need.
- Page last reviewed: December 6, 2017
- Page last updated: December 6, 2017
- Content source:
- National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs