Interestingly, a new study conducted at Nottingham University in the UK found that immediate rewards in the form of points in a video game had a similar effect on brain activity in kids with ADHD as stimulant medication does. Based on EEG results, the team found that both the rewards and the child’s usual dose of stimulant medication resulted in the normalization of brain regions and improved task completion, though the medication yielded a slightly higher effect.
The researchers at Nottingham University stated that it may be difficult for parents and teachers to provide tangible rewards immediately.
However, other research shows that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder actually respond as well or better to social reinforcement than they do to tangible reinforcers like points, tokens or money. This means that a smile or a brief word of encouragement may achieve significant benefits for a child with ADD or ADHD.
For some families, instituting some simple changes in your parenting approach could reduce or eliminate the need for medication for some children. Positive words, a smile or encouragement can be given to your child immediately and may work to effectively improve the behavior of your child with ADHD or ADD.
Years of research and current professional guidelines indicate that behavioral interventions should be tried first before medication except for children with severe symptoms.