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Putting Your Child on ADD Medication

Updated on April 11, 2013

Magic pills?


ADD Medication and Parental Guilt

I don't know a parent alive who took the decision to put their child on ADD medication lightly. No parent wants to put their child on drugs. The decision to put our daughter on ADD medication was one my partner and I agonized over for several years before finally deciding to give it a try. It wasn’t until she climbed on top of the roof of our house, in the middle of winter with her younger sister in tow, that we finally had to admit to ourselves that all the books, special diets and consequences were not going to be enough. Our daughter had ADD and we needed medical help. It was time to consider ADD medication as a form of treatment.

Common Misconceptions:

1) You’re a Bad Parent

I would be willing to bet that almost every parent that has to resort to ADD medication for their child feels like a bad parent. I know I did. I couldn’t shake the feeling that if I had just tried a little harder we wouldn’t have to use drugs, like my daughter's symptoms were a reflection of me as a parent. Fortunately we found a wonderful psychologist who helped us understand that ADD is a medical condition, a chemical imbalance in the brain. She likened it to having diabetes and asked the poignant question “if your daughter needed insulin would you prevent her from having it?” She helped us understand that ADD medication was a form of treatment not a sign that we had given up.

2) Magic PillS

When we finally reconciled ourselves with using ADD medication to treat our daughter it was like a giant weight had been lifted off our shoulders. We were ready for the magic pill, but there wasn’t one. Treating ADD with medication is not one size fits all. There were a number of false starts that actually seemed to make things worse. One ADD medication made her cry constantly and when it wore off her behavior was terrifying. It took us several tries to get the right dosage on the ADD medication that did end up working. It was a process, it wasn’t easy, but when we finally figured it out it made a huge difference.

3) Their Condition Will Never Change

Approximately 75% of children with ADD will outgrow it by the time they turn 12. In the beginning the idea of ADD not being a forever thing for our daughter was a lifeboat of sanity for us during our craziest times. However, it doesn’t look like that will be the case for us. At 12 our daughter’s symptoms remain the same, and without ADD medication her behavior quickly spirals out of control, we’ve tried. But for many kids they’ll either outgrow the worst of the ADD symptoms as their brain develops, or, in some cases when treatment is received early, they will develop coping skills that negate the need for ADD medication later on. The road is different for each child, but change is possible.

ADD Medication is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

Again, I think I secretly believed that once the ADD medication was sorted out we could all finally move forward with our lives and be one big, happy family. However, it didn't take long to realize that it would take more than a daily pill for things to improve. The ADD medication did help with the impulsivity and behavioral issues, but our daughter still struggled with a lot of the day to day activities that the rest of us take for granted like getting to school on time and remembering to go to the bathroom. Staying on task is next to impossible for a lot of children with ADD, medication or no medication. My daughter likens it to having a three ring circus in her head. How can you remember to go pee or get to school with all of that noise in your brain? Fortunately medical help, behavior therapy, diet and exercise and finally an endless amount of patience and love have helped her find a way to function and ultimately thrive.

Don't Let the Stigma of Medication Rule Your Decision

Parenting a child with ADD is a challenge that can only be understood by those in the trenches doing it day after day. There will always be people who are ready to weigh in on what you should and shouldn't do, but only you know what is right for you and your child, whether that involves ADD medication or not. Don't be afraid to do whatever it takes to get the help your child deserves.

Remember: You are a good parent. You have a great child. It is always okay to ask for help. Never give up!

*As an interesting footnote I have two children who have been diagnosed with ADD, however, only one is treated with medication. Although we did try medication for our other child we found that she was able to manage the symptoms of ADD without medical intervention. I am not pro-medication, I am pro-child.


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    • American_Choices profile image

      American_Choices 5 years ago from USA

      We struggled with this and researched it thoroughly. In addition to agreeing to the meds, we actively coached the young man to communicate better and stay focused in his communications. His grades have improved and better yet, he is improving his relationships with his family and his college peers.

      Hearing first hand accounts makes this decision much easier.

      Very important subject, very well written. Voted up!

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 5 years ago from Canada

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments CarlyS. Medication continues to be part of the therapy puzzle for our daughter and I am happy to share this journey with others such as yourself.

    • CarlySullens profile image

      CarlySullens 5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      This is a great hub! I too struggled with the decision to medicate my son for ADD. I did all the diets, behavior modification, etc. etc. But once school started to get more intense and he began to notice he was falling behind his peers, his self esteem began to plumbed. We put him on the meds. The first one did not work, he started to feel paranoid. The second pill works great for him. Just a very low dosage and he is at par with his peers, and is the same son, no big personality changes. He can just focus much better and get through the day easier without needing to be redirected 100 times. He is gaining self confidence.

      Bravo for this hub. Not an easy decision.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks Lizam!

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 6 years ago from Victoria BC

      Excellent advice. You have two children with ADD and you recognize that their diagnosis is a spectrum and treat them both equally in ways which will help them. Voted up and awesome.