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24-09-2020 | Uitgave 4/2020 Open Access

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 4/2020

How to Improve Behavioral Parent and Teacher Training for Children with ADHD: Integrating Empirical Research on Learning and Motivation into Treatment

Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review > Uitgave 4/2020
Saskia van der Oord, Gail Tripp
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Saskia van der Oord and Gail Tripp are joint first authors.

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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] is one of the most common psychiatric disorders of childhood with poor prognosis if not treated effectively. Recommended psychosocial evidence-based treatment for preschool and school-aged children is behavioral parent and teacher training [BPT]. The core elements of BPT are instrumental learning principles, i.e., reinforcement of adaptive and the ignoring or punishment of non-adaptive behaviors together with stimulus control techniques. BPT is moderately effective in reducing oppositional behavior and improving parenting practices; however, it does not reduce blinded ratings of ADHD symptoms. Also after training effects dissipate. This practitioner review proposes steps that can be taken to improve BPT outcomes for ADHD, based on purported causal processes underlying ADHD. The focus is on altered motivational processes (reward and punishment sensitivity), as they closely link to the instrumental processes used in BPT. Following a critical analysis of current behavioral treatments for ADHD, we selectively review motivational reinforcement-based theories of ADHD, including the empirical evidence for the behavioral predictions arising from these theories. This includes consideration of children’s emotional reactions to expected and unexpected outcomes. Next we translate this evidence into potential ADHD-specific adjustments designed to enhance the immediate and long-term effectiveness of BPT programs in addressing the needs of children with ADHD. This includes the use of remediation strategies for proposed deficits in learning not commonly used in BPT programs and cautions regarding the use of punishment. Finally, we address how these recommendations can be effectively transferred to clinical practice.

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