Counseling Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association defines Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as “a behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging.” There are 3 types of ADHD, the first being inattentive type. Those with the inattentive type often struggle with remaining focused on the task at hand because their mind wanders. The second is hyperactive type, which has a behavioral component to it, and those with this type often are found fidgeting or moving rather than focusing on the task at hand. The third type is a combination of the 2. Previously, ADHD was known as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Many people will still refer to their condition as ADD because of the stigma attached to the hyperactivity portion of the diagnosis. It’s easy to get caught up in that, but the focus of the disorder is the effected ability of attention.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has noted that ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders of childhood, with over 6 million children diagnosed as having ADHD. ADHD can be found in about 1 in 20 kids according to the CDC. Most children who have ADHD also have a prescribed medication for their use, but medication does not need to be the first response to helping children with ADHD. There are skills that can be taught and ways that parents can reinforce children so that they learn more prosocial ways to engage with others and participate in academics.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) believes that hyperactivity and attention can improve through the use of medication, but a doctor must still monitor it. It should also be noted that improve does not mean eliminate and that is where therapy comes into play. There are multiple skills/goals that therapists can do to work with children diagnosed with ADHD. Hamilton & Astramovich found that the three evidence-based focuses of ADHD that clinicians should be working with are conflict resolution, motivation/self-efficacy, and self-esteem.

Conflict resolution involves developing the problem-solving skills we all use as children with ADHD often act impulsively without thinking. Working on Conflict resolution will help to reduce defiance at home. At Pathways Psychology Services, we utilize an Activity Social Skills group to work through conflicts in a safe environment with the goal of also reducing the defiance and actions at home.

We also assist with motivation/self-efficacy, which involves a process that helps children to organize and be successful in school, including an adherence to schedules and using rewards as motivation boosters. Finally, we assist children with self-esteem building. Children with ADHD will often struggle and use negative self-talk, but by building their self-esteem, we help improve frustration tolerance, strengthen resiliency and create more positive outlooks.

If you or someone you know is struggling with symptoms of ADHD, contact Pathways Psychology Services at 630-293-9860. We can help.

By Zach Meers, LCPC, NCC

American Psychological Association
Center for Desease Control and Prevention – Facts
Center for Desease Control and Prevention – Data
Vistas Online Article
National Institute of Mental Health