New research in Ireland has shown that hyperactive children, commonly labeled as ADHD and then made quiet with drugs, can be better served with some common sense parenting.
The National University of Ireland at Maynooth has completed a 5 year study that has shown that so-called ADHD behavior in a child can be transformed without drugs or violent punishments. Parents, teachers and the children were delighted with the positive results.
Noting that 1 in 20 kids were being labeled hyperactive and that the number of prescriptions written in Ireland for ADHD drugs was up 62% in 6 years, the researchers went looking for other answers.
The university’s Archway program is dedicated to preventing and treating behavioral problems in children without the use of medication.
They employed a program created by an American professor and author from the University of Washington named Carolyn Webster-Stratton. She has written a book called The Incredible Years, A Trouble-Shooting Guide for Parents of Children Aged 2-8 Years and over the last 30 years has developed a program called The Incredible Years Program.
The Incredible Years Program delivers a series of courses for teachers, parents and children designed to prevent and treat emotional and behavior difficulties in children.
She describes the basic principle of her work this way,
“Simply stated, it is that children will work for attention from others, especially parents, whether it is positive (praise) or negative (criticism) in nature. If they do not receive positive attention, then they will strive for negative attention since that is better than none at all.”
Her list of foundations for successful parenting include playing with your child, talking to him and listening to him, offering praise and tangible rewards for good behavior and teaching children to solve their problems. Effectively controlling a child’s tantrums and disruptive behavior without resorting to physical punishments is also taught. The parents learn and practice all these skills during their parenting course so they can then use them at home with their kids.
Tallaght Family Resource Centre and Deansrath Family Centre in Clondalkin delivered the service to the families involved in the study. More than two-thirds of the families were from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The results of the 5 year study show that this approach out-shines a dose of Ritalin.
Improving the parent’s skills had the biggest benefit to the Irish ADHD kids in the study.
“Over 40% of children showing high levels of behavioural difficulties including hyperactivity, attention deficit problems or aggression, fell to within a normal range on a behaviour measurement scale after just 20 weeks of the parent programme intervention.”
In other words, the kids “ADHD” symptoms disappeared when their parents took a parent training course and actually got into good communication with their children and started to play and have fun with them!
None of the participating children were on medication at the start or throughout the program.
Aileen O’Donoghue, CEO of Archways, was very encouraged by the results.
“This research is very good news for parents and children living with the stress and uncertainty of ADHD. As a country, we must be investing further and seriously in the Incredible Years training programmes as a frontline intervention for families. In fact, given the evidence from this study and others, these programmes should be as standard for children and families living with behaviour difficulties as vaccinations are for infants.”
Hopefully these results will echo on American shores and help curb the drugging of so-called hyperactive children in our country.