Behavioral Therapy Techniques You Can Try At Home For Your Teen With ADHD


“He just can’t seem to sit down and do his work.” You think to yourself, “I wonder if there’s something wrong with him?”

If you’re the parent of a troubled teen who you suspect has ADHD or a parent with a child with ADHD, then this article is for you!

This article will help you recognize some of the signs of ADHD. In addition to this, we will give you some techniques from behavior modification therapy that you can use to help your teen.

That being said, while we offer behavioral therapy techniques that you can use with your troubled boy or teen, please remember that these techniques should not be used in place of therapy. At Liahona Treatment Center, a therapeutic boarding school for boys, we have fully licensed and caring mental health professionals and staff who can help your troubled boy.

Reach out to us today so that you can help your son!

Understanding ADHD and ADHD subtypes

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or what’s commonly referred to as the DSM-5, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is experienced by 2.5% of adults and 5% of children in most cultures. Additionally, the DSM states that the disorder is more common amongst males and children.

ADHD disorder is characterized by two key aspects: hyperactivity/impulsivity and difficulty with attention.

ADHD symptoms that are primarily related to inattention are a specific form of ADHD. The DSM-5 states that an individual needs to have had six or more of the following symptoms mentioned below. These symptoms must last for at least six months.

When a teen struggles with focus and attention, they may

  • have difficulty keeping and not losing things,
  • struggle with being forgetful daily,
  • dislike engaging in activities that require concentration,
  • be unable to pay attention to details,
  • have trouble remaining focused,
  • doesn’t follow through with tasks or homework,
  • have difficulties listening, and
  • become easily distracted by their environment.

ADHD symptoms that are primarily related to hyperactivity or impulsivity is similar to the inattentive type in that the symptoms must be experienced for at least six months. At least six of the following symptoms need to be experienced.

An individual who struggles with this type of ADHD struggles with:

  • staying still,
  • talking a lot,
  • listening in conversations without the need to interrupt,
  • taking turns,
  • inappropriate behavior like moving around when sitting is the needed,
  • inappropriate behavior like climbing or running when that behavior is unexpected,
  • Inability to relax, and
  • needing constant stimulation.

Combined ADHD is with symptoms from both inattentive and hyperactive symptoms. This type of ADHD can include things like struggling with attention but also with decision-making skills.

Unspecified ADHD is ADHD that doesn’t fall in any of the above categories. As with all other subtypes, a clinician can diagnose this type of ADHD.

ADHD’s academic, social, and emotional effects

Since ADHD is a disorder, it can manifest itself in behaviors or thought processes that impair a troubled teen’s life. For example, many teens and adults who struggle with ADHD struggle with poor academic and on-the-job performance. That’s because most jobs require sustained focus, the ability to complete tasks, and stay organized. Because of this poor performance, teens with ADHD may struggle with low self-esteem and may turn to self-harm or suicide as a way of coping with the effects of the disorder.

Other effects of having ADHD are being misdiagnosed with other learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, or even personality disorders. It may take some time to get a diagnosis that fits.

Behavior modification therapy and your troubled teen

The goal is to address problematic thought-processes and behaviors associated with ADHD. That’s why at Liahona Treatment Center, we strongly believe in using behavior modification therapy. Behavior modification therapy is a type of therapy in which behaviors seen as an impairment to progress are addressed.

For example, one of the key ideas of behavioral modification therapy is that behaviors are learned. These behaviors are typically learned in families and by the environment in which a child is raised.

Since behavior is learned, behavioral modification therapy centers know that behaviors can also be changed. Ideas like “he’ll never change” or “that’s just the way that she is” are not ideas accepted in this type of therapy. Additionally, this type of therapy is rooted in positive and negative reinforcement.

Behavioral therapy techniques for teens that have ADHD

Behavioral therapists recognize that a teen’s environment can impact their behavior, here are some techniques to try with your teen.

1. Minimize distractions

Often, teens who have ADHD are placed in environments where they can be easily distracted. The peer yelling across the room in the class, the sibling who wants to play football, and the latest news on social media are just some of the things that can cause your teen to lose focus.

So, rather than assuming that your teen should focus on the task at hand, try to minimize distractions. As you reduce distractions, remind your teen that you’re not punishing them; you’re merely trying to help them.

2. Offer different ways of learning

As many teachers and mental health practitioners are aware, every teen has a specific way of learning. This is especially true for teens with ADHD. For example, if you notice that your teen is more of a visual learner, have them engage in activities where visuals are centered. This can include using screens more often and sketching key points during note-taking rather than writing down notes.

A key point in helping your teen with ADHD is recognizing that they may struggle with focusing, so having activities last for a short time and rotate activities to help them stay motivated.

3. Recognize and reward positive behaviors

Instead of comparing your teen with ADHD to their sibling who can do homework for two hours, recognize and praise your teen for when they’re able to stay focused and on task. This can include things like giving them 15 minutes of screen-time for every 45 minutes spent on schoolwork. It can also involve rewarding them for finishing a task like washing the dishes and for staying calm when they feel fidgety and restless.

As you’ll notice over time, rewarding positive behaviour communicates to your teen, “I like what you’re doing and would like to see more of that.”

Behavioral modification therapy techniques work!

Behavioral therapy techniques work, but they take a lot of awareness, time, and effort. Rewarding your child only once for good behavior does communicate that you appreciate that behavior, but it doesn’t teach them how to maintain that behavior.

That’s why a combination of a supportive environment and awareness of positive and negative reinforcement must be needed to truly help your troubled teen. Reach out to us at Liahona Treatment Center to help your teen with ADHD.

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