Children With ADHD More Prone To Reproaches; Study Calls For Better Reward And Punishment System

By Rodney Rafols , Sep 26, 2016 03:00 AM EDT

Children could be very active. Active children could sometimes have a hard time paying attention. This is normal in most cases, but children with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD might have a harder time focusing, which could lead to more scoldings. 

It is not surprising that children might not pay attention at times. Children could be active and become fixated on some things. Children with ADHD have it much worse, though. This could lead to situations wherein adults might scold them more often, as Science Daily reports.

This is because children with ADHD have issues with focusing and can be impulsive. Adults may not be able to understand them which could make the situation worse. To study how children with ADHD react to rewards and punishments, a team of researchers from Japan and New Zealand tested them together with typical children through a computer-based game that has reward and punishment.

The team though was careful about giving out punishments as earlier attempts at it had children abandoning the game when they kept losing points. For the study, the researchers came up with two games, according to the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University.

The two games were presented at the same time and looked almost exactly alike. The games have a two by two grid and on it are characters as well as sad faces. Pressing a button might have four matching characters or faces. Four matching fun characters would result in a win while four sad faces would be a loss.

210 children participated in the study, out of which 145 have ADHD. All children lived in Japan or New Zealand and English is their first language. The study's result shows that children would choose the less punishing game. That was true for children with or without ADHD.

"Both groups played the less punishing game more often. But over time, the children with ADHD found losing points and the laughter more punishing than typically developing children," said Professor Gail Tripp, one of the authors of the study and director of the Human Developmental Neurobiology Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology.

The study notes that at the first 100 trials the children were equal in preference. Children with ADHD though, later began to choose the less punishing game than children without ADHD. By the 200th trial children with ADHD didn't play the punishing game as much as typical children.

The researchers note that this could help in giving out rewards to children with ADHD in the future. Tripp said that if children with ADHD are reluctant to do tasks, it is up to the adults to look for a system that has the right balance of reward and punishment to teach correct behavior.

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