behavioral change techniques

Behavioral Change Techniques for Academic Success

Picture of Eran Grayson
Eran Grayson

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Living with ADHD can present some pretty unique challenges. This is especially true when it comes to addressing the self-management of behavior change. As parents of students with ADHD, navigating the journey of helping your child develop effective coping skills can sometimes feel like a daunting task. The implementation of effective behavioral change techniques is paramount in fostering lasting transformations in individuals’ habits and actions.

However, with the right strategies and health-behavior change interventions, you can empower your child to thrive academically and socially. In this article, we’ll examine practical tips that not only address ADHD behaviors and symptoms but also foster an environment designed for personal success.

To begin, we must understand the science behind what controls our own behavior. How do we change behavior through internal, social, and environmental adjustments?

The Key to Understanding Health Psychology

Accepted academic practice points to the development of behavior change techniques or strategies to regulate behavior. Patient education begins with a systematic review of the schools of thought on effective behavior change techniques.

At its core, we can affect behavior through intervention mapping. In effect, it is a roadmap to get from where you are to where you want to go.

  • Review your self-reported behaviors
  • Identify both undesirable and desired behavior examples
  • Goal-setting
  • Create a list of steps needed to achieve your goals

Much academic effort, systematic review, and meta-analysis of the theory behind health-behavior change has gone into finding the best way to alter our ways of acting and reacting to situations.

Let’s take a look at a few schools of thought on why we do what we do. For each behavior change technique, we will strive to simplify the difference between each. Your goal is to find among these intervention components something that works for you and your child.

Social Cognitive Theory

The Social Cognitive Theory suggests that people learn by observing others. They see the consequences of behaviors in others and that will generally support behavior change.

This behavior change technique emphasizes the importance of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their own ability to succeed.

For example, if someone sees their friend successfully quit smoking and believes they can do it too, they are more likely to attempt quitting themselves. Family members and close friends become very important in recommending target behaviors.

Theory of Planned Behavior

The Theory of Planned Behavior forwards the belief that one of the largest factors influencing behavior change is a person’s intentions. This is influenced by their attitude toward a certain behavior, the perception of what others think, and the perceived ease or difficulty in controlling the behavior.

For instance, take the situation of someone who believes that physical exercise is beneficial and their close friends encourage it. If they also believe they have enough time and resources to exercise regularly, they will be more likely to make the desired behavior adjustment.

Self-Determination Theory

The Self-Determination Theory is an intervention development model that proposes people are inherently motivated to satisfy three psychological needs – autonomy, competence, and relatedness.

Autonomy is the need to feel in control of one’s actions and choices. People want to feel that they have freedom when it comes to making decisions that match up to their interests and values. This leads to more personalized goal setting.

Competence involves the need to feel capable and effective in one’s actions. We look for opportunities to develop skills and master tasks that lead to success.

Relatedness is the need to feel connected to others. When we experience a sense of belonging and develop meaningful relationships we thrive. Health behaviors become an extension of being accepted and welcomed by others.

Simple Behavior Change Interventions

Perhaps we now understand a little bit about the background of health education and what pushes us to do what we do. So, what are some steps that parents and children with ADHD can take to promote health-behavior change? Regardless of the relevant theory you subscribe to above, consider a few practical examples of simple adjustments you can make.

Step 1: Utilize Positive Reinforcement

One of the most effective behavior change techniques for individuals with ADHD is the use of positive reinforcement. Instead of focusing solely on what your child is not doing or struggling with, highlight and reward their efforts and progress.

This could be as simple as offering praise for completing a task or achieving a milestone. By acknowledging their accomplishments, you reinforce positive behaviors, making it more likely for them to continue those behaviors in the future.

Step 2: Break Tasks into Manageable Steps

Individuals with ADHD often struggle with organization and time management, which can make tasks feel overwhelming. To mitigate this, break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable steps.

Encourage your child to focus on completing one step at a time, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the entirety of the task. By providing clear and achievable goals, you help them build momentum and reduce feelings of frustration or anxiety.

Step 3: Implement Visual Aids and Timers

Visual aids and timers can be powerful tools in helping individuals with ADHD stay focused and on track. Use visual schedules, checklists, or color-coded calendars to outline tasks and deadlines.

Additionally, incorporate timers or countdown clocks to provide a visual representation of time passing and to help your child manage their time more effectively. These visual cues can serve as reminders and prompts, assisting them in staying organized and on task.

Step 4: Encourage Regular Breaks and Movement for a Healthy Lifestyle

Sitting still for extended periods can be challenging for individuals with ADHD, leading to restlessness and decreased attention. Encourage your child to take regular breaks during study sessions, allowing them to move around and recharge.

Physical activity promotion or movement breaks can help release excess energy and improve focus and concentration. Whether it’s a quick walk, stretching exercises, or a brief dance break, find activities that resonate with your child and integrate them into their study routine.

Beyond physical activity, also encourage healthy lifestyle choices in other areas of life. Physical health is supported by making wise, healthy eating choices and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption.

Remember that many of the behavior change techniques front the thought that those around us influence our behaviors. So, set a good example and practice the behaviors you want to promote.

Step 5: Foster a Supportive Environment

Creating a supportive and understanding environment is essential for individuals with ADHD to thrive academically and socially. Be patient and empathetic, acknowledging the challenges they may face while providing encouragement and support.

Work collaboratively with teachers and academic professionals to implement accommodations and modifications that cater to your child’s specific needs. Additionally, involve your child in decision-making processes regarding their study habits and routines, empowering them to take ownership of their academic journey.

Focus on Your Health: Behavior Change Techniques Work!

Navigating the academic landscape with ADHD can be challenging, but it’s not insurmountable. By incorporating practical behavioral change techniques into your child’s study routine, you can help them develop essential skills and strategies for academic success.

Remember to celebrate their progress, provide structure and support, and foster a nurturing environment where they feel empowered to reach their full potential.

With patience, persistence, and the right tools, your child can excel academically and beyond.


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