Does behavior modification for ADHD lose its effectiveness over time?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
Some behavior modification approaches for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) seem to become less successful over time. For instance, parents may give stickers to their young child as rewards for good behavior. After several weeks, the child may get bored with receiving stickers, and parents must be creative and find another way to reward the child's good behavior.

It is normal for all parents to need to adjust their behavior modification strategies over time. Your child's needs and wants change, and behavior modification techniques must change too. Stay flexible, be creative, and discuss any hardships or concerns with your child's doctor or therapist. A professional who is versed in behavioral modification may help you come up with new techniques to keep your child motivated to maintain their good behavior.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Behavior modification is a keystone in the treatment of ADHD, but it needs to be reinforced and adjusted as the person gets older, otherwise it will lose its effectiveness. What’s helpful in a first-grade classroom will also be helpful in a ninth-grade classroom. But as your child grows up, there are more complicated social situations and behavioral expectations that your child will need to learn how to cope with. Just like with learning a new instrument or playing a sport, practice is key. Once you learn how to play a piece, you don’t stop. You keep practicing and move on to more difficult ones. The same holds true with behavior modification.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.