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  Home  > Child/Family Wellness  > Myth: ADD-Type Behaviors Are Best Managed by Behavior Modification

Myth: ADD-Type Behaviors Are Best Managed by Behavior Modification

Fact: While behavior modification programs based on the use of rewards, for example, make up a significant part of the ADD child-control strategies, a strong body of research confirms that rewards subvert cooperation, creativity, and destroy children's intrinsic motivation to learn.

A teacher-centered, worksheet- and textbook-driven model of education prevails in our schools, despite the fact that research shows that not only do children labeled ADD need high levels of stimulation, novelty and interest in their educational programs, but "normal" students also do best in learning environments where they are in engaged in questioning, experimenting, collaborating, and problem-solving. What is interesting--and revealing--is that the most successful approaches for kids labeled ADD are in fact strategies that are effective for all kids.

ADD literature is replete with the word "compliance." Parents are urged to "enforce commands" and "stick to their guns." Behavior modification programs abound with gold stars, stickers, charts, and other methods of "child training." Some approaches are simply cruel. A recommendation for fairly minor offenses is removing the child's picture from the bulletin board. Other recommendations are condescending such as "use simple, short sentences." Children labeled ADD can understand complex sentences if they are meaningful and relevant.

Research shows many children labeled ADD do best when in environments where they can exert some control over their lives, yet children rarely have any voice in treatment options.



ADD Treatment--To Control or Empower

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