ADHD or Behavior Management?

Martha Livingston

May 8, 2018

How do I know if my child has ADHD or if he simply has behavior management problems?  

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder characterized by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity/impulsivity that is more frequent and severe than typically observed.  


ADHD is a diagnosed by the age of seven in approximately 5% of school aged children. The disorder is characterized by hyperactivity, inattentiveness and attention problems. Some children may have predominantly hyperactive characteristics while others may have inattentiveness, still others may have the combined type. Some children are highly distractible and have impairments in concentration that keep them from focusing on classroom activities that require sustained mental effort. Teachers have been trained in planning lessons, developing curricula, structuring schedules, and managing behavior in the classrooms to meet the unique needs of such students. Some students do not respond to these basic teaching methods and may need additional interventions.  Behavioral problems and learning difficulties may compromise the educational development of these students. When impulsivity, hyperactive behaviors, and problems with attention become so severe that children are unable to access the curriculum, build friendships, or have difficulties with their home environment due to their behavior, they may be diagnosed with ADHD.  


When children exhibit behavior problems, parents and teachers are the first to make recommendations for behavior interventions. Presentation of symptoms can be affected by family dynamics, school expectations, and other stressors placed on the child. The structure at school is different from that at home. Parents and teachers need to try a variety of psychological approaches such as social skills training, parent training, and family therapy.  


ADHD is the most undertreated diagnosis in the DSM-V. Most parents do not want to give medication to their children and opt to try behavior management strategies instead. This is a great option, but as we know from research, the combination of medication and therapy yields the best results. The disorder continues to be present into adulthood for the majority of individuals. This will affect every aspect of their lives including, work, school and relationships. Early intervention is key to managing behaviors that can be very self-defeating for individuals diagnosed with this disorder.   

At San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center we have excellent therapists that will teach your child the skills that they need in order to manage their behaviors. Once they learn to manage their impulsive behaviors and can focus on tasks, they will have improved self-esteem and hence will do better academically and socially. Parents will also receive parent training and learn how to implement things token economies, behavior management strategies and reward systems.

About the author:

Martha Livingston, Ph.D, LPC-S has been working in mental health for over 25 years and is the CEO at San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center.

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Make an appointment today at San Antonio Counseling and Behavioral Center, our counselors are waiting to hear from you. 210-614-4990      


Written by:

Martha Livingston


May 8, 2018


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