- Created on Wednesday, 03 April 2013 13:23
- Written by Denise Roos
- Hits: 195
A concerned mom recently asked me how much information she should give her daughter about her ADHD and medication. This is a question that I have been asked many times, so I thought it would be a good idea to address the issue here.
I decided early on to be open and honest with my son about his ADHD. I explained that his brain worked differently than other people's, but that there was nothing "wrong" with him. We talked about the medications and how they may make him feel a bit different and discussed that there would be side-effects. I didn't tell him exactly what those effects could be, so that he didn't manifest them by suggestion. We agreed that he would tell me anything that happened in his mind or body that felt different, whether it was good or bad, and decide together if it was worthwhile taking the medication, although I always had the deciding vote.
Once he started on the medication, we discussed daily how he felt, what made him glad to be on them and what made him feel bad on them. I told him how important it was for him to tell me how he was feeling and what differences there were, because only he could feel what the medication did to his own body. Conversations may start like, "You're very quiet this morning, does it feel like your meds have kicked in?" or "How do you feel when..." or even "Do you think you would have better marks with or without the meds?" I listened to his responses and feedback and together we became more knowledgeable and aware of how HIS body reacted to the meds.
Later on when I went onto medication, we were able to see how we reacted similarly and differently. Currently my son takes a higher dosage of Ritalin than I do, because we are different people.
Now my son is a teenager, and although many other teens on medication for ADHD are becoming difficult and want to go off their medication, William has realized that they help him to achieve his potential. I don't have to force or coerce him into taking his pills although I still have to remind him daily!
How much or how little you tell your child is a completely personal decision, and there are no "right" or "wrong" answers to the question. However there are a few vital tips I want to share with you that may make things easier for you, no matter what you decide.
- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE! Unconditional, unrestrained, ongoing and always! Love is what will make the biggest difference. Say it, show it, live it and be it. If you are a loving parent, no matter what happens, the end result is that your child will feel loved. No medication or training in the world can beat that feeling and knowledge. Sometimes you will hate the behaviour, but always love the CHILD!
- Always be POSITIVE! ADHD is a neurological condition, not a death sentence! Yes, its true that some things are more difficult for ADDers than the general population but with time, training and perhaps with the assistance of medication, it is a condition that can be managed.
- EVERYBODY has strengths! Not everyone has the same strengths, but we all have some areas that we are better in than others. Also everyone has WEAKNESSES, just because we are not good at everything doesn't mean we don't add value. Help your child or children to discover their own strengths and acknowlege their weaknesses.
- PILLS don't give SKILLS! Medications don't GIVE us brains or MAKE us smarter, they are just a tool that allow us to use the brainpower we have, by dampening down some of the distraction, impulsivity and hyperactivity, that are the trademark symptoms of ADHD.
- There WILL be side effects to medication! Many parents have near heart attacks when they read the package inserts from medications, believe me I know because I was one of them. Remember that "side effects" can be positive too! If your child loses appetite but gains in self-esteem because of being able to focus in class, isn't it worthwhile feeding them up before taking their meds? Rather lose a centimeter or two in height than lose self esteem and self worth!
Finally, go with your gut. I'm a great believer in parent's intuition. A doctor may have studied for 7+ years but you know your child better than anyone else in this world. You know how much information they can handle, and what would be overwhelming for them. Only you as parents can make the final decision about how much to tell your own child.
Good luck and I would love to hear your stories and any tips you may have for other parents in the same boat.
I'm looking forward to getting started!