Positive Reinforcement More Helpful for ADHD Kids? 

Positive reinforcement is usually better than negative reinforcement but does positive reinforcement work the same in every child? According to a study out of the University of Buffalo and published in the journal Behavioral and Brain Functions, the answer would be no. They found that a little recognition for a job well done means a lot to children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder – even more than it would for typically developing kids.

The researchers specifically found that praise, or another possible reward, improves the performance of children with ADHD on certain cognitive tasks. Until this study, reasons weren’t clear.

“Our results suggest that the motivation piece is critical,” one researcher said. “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.”

The benefits of rewards for children are not specific to children with ADHD. “The major difference is that typically developing kids usually perform well even when simply asked to do their best, but kids with ADHD typically need an external or an additional reinforcement to perform their best,” said one researcher.

This is just one example of how being aware of the ramifications of a diagnosis of ADHD can help you relate to and collaborate with a child with the disorder to achieve harmony together.


raziRazi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.

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