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ADHD in Children Health Center

Classes for Parents May Help Tots at Risk for ADHD

Programs try to promote positive relationship between parent and child
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The four parent interventions studied in this review were: the Positive Parenting Program, Incredible Years Parenting Program, Parent-Child Interaction Therapy and the New Forest Parenting Program.

Interventions that focus on changing parental behavior may seem like the blame is being placed on parents for their child's behavior. But, Charach said, that's not the case at all.

"Some kids are more challenging and need extra skills and extra support from their parents. And, this may not come naturally. We learn how to parent from our own parents. If a child isn't like us, we might not know what to do," she explained.

The researchers found that when parents completed the entire course, their children's behavior improved more.

In the single study of medication, the researchers found that although methylphenidate could be effective for this age group, there were side effects from the drug.

"We live in an age when parents are sensitive to the whole issue of medications. I think it's a natural fit for families to say, 'What can we do instead?'" Charach said.

Plus, the AAP guidelines don't recommend medication as a first-line treatment for children at risk of ADHD in this age group, she said.

A U.S. expert discussed the new findings.

"This review emphasizes the value and effectiveness of several different parent training programs to help families who have children who are behaviorally challenging," said Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York.

But, he said, it's important to note that the researchers didn't compare the interventions side by side. They only looked at studies that had been done on each particular intervention.

Adesman said another concern is that parent behavior training programs aren't always available or possible for the parents to complete.

One relatively easy way for concerned parents to see if their youngster's behavior is normal or a potential problem is to enroll them in preschool, he said. "Preschool provides a respite for parents, but it also offers peer modeling and gives parents and pediatricians a fresh perspective coming from experienced objective observers," Adesman explained.

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