Preschool ADHD can have a substantial impact on the daily functioning of a child. It is generally predictive of executive function impairment through adolescence, despite treatment with medication. A recent collaborative study of 4 universities in the Netherlands and the U.K. has shown that training parents to do behavioral interventions at home can have a positive effect on a child’s ADHD symptoms and reduce stress within the family.
The researchers investigated the effectiveness of parent training for preschool ADHD in three routine specialist clinics in Denmark. A group of 164 children aged 3 to 7 years was recruited for the study. They randomly allocated the group to receive the New Forest Parenting Program or an intensive treatment regime routinely provided.
The New Forest Parenting Program takes place in the family’s home through eight weekly visits. During these visits, parents are made aware of symptoms and signs of ADHD and the ways in which they may affect their child’s behavior and their relationship with their child. Parents also learn strategies for managing their child’s behavior and attention difficulties.
Results showed that parents who received the New Forest Program reported their children’s ADHD symptoms significantly lower after intervention and at a 48-week follow-up compared to the group receiving the usual treatment. Parents who received the New Forest Parenting Program also reported higher levels of parenting self-esteem and lower levels of strain with in the family compared to the treatment as usual group.
Anne-Mette Lange, clinical psychologist at the Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Aarhus University Hospital, Risskov, and Aarhus University, summarized the findings: “The New Forest Parenting Program provides parents with techniques to train their child’s attention and concentration, improve their ability to deal with waiting and frustration but is also designed to help ensure an easier day-to-day life for children with ADHD and their families.”
While additional research will need to be done to corroborate the findings, this study may point to another potentially effective non-medication treatment for young children with ADHD.