Praising kids with ADHD can help them succeed
Previous studies show that praise or the possibility of a reward can improve the performance of certain cognitive tasks by kids with ADHD, but the results were unclear as to whether they came from motivation, or the subjects with ADHD had more room for improvement than those who did not have the condition.
“Our results suggest that the motivation piece is critical,” study leader Whitney Fosco said in a news release. “Kids with ADHD showed more improvement because they are more motivated by the opportunity to gain rewards, not because they simply did worse from the beginning.”
Dr. Brent Sylvester, an Advocate Medical Group psychologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., agrees that external rewards can be useful motivators and performance enhancers for kids with ADHD.
“Simply telling individuals with ADHD to ‘try harder’ is unlikely to be effective because this deficit makes it harder to keep goals in mind,” he says.
Kids with ADHD also respond better to immediate external rewards, rather than delayed rewards, such as the feeling of satisfaction from doing well on a task, Dr. Sylvester says.
The study’s findings reinforce a popular treatment for ADHD known as behavioral therapy, which offers positive consequences to increase the likelihood of achieving certain behaviors.
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