ADD and ADHD in America: 8 Things to Think About Before Medicating

March 31st, 2014

Too many boys and now girls are being medicated for ADD and ADHD in the US, with a 53% increase in the stimulant prescriptions for boys and teens in the past 4 years and there is something horribly wrong with this picture.

  1. Work with the school: the teacher/school needs to allow boys and girls to go outside and run around every 45 min. Even for 10 min, this would solve excess energy problems immediately. Schools will push back because of the scheduled day, but we are loosing site of the big picture: kids need to let out their energy before they can concentrate.
  2. Take a good look at how you and you partner cope with anxiety. Do you medicate yourselves? Do you talk about your feelings? Do you show one another empathy and compassion? When you are upset and angry do you yell? What is the tone in your house? Is it calm and loving? By creating a safe, calm and loving environment at home, your child will model that behavior in the outside.
  3. How is the relationship between you and your partner? If it is strong, healthy and you have similar parenting styles whereby you support one another, then your children will be calm. If you are undermining the other, you cause anxiety and chaos in the house. The children may align themselves with the more lenient parent, causing them to feel split loyalties and worry.
  4. Are you making your children the most important part of your world? If kids are put up too high in the parent hierarchy, they become anxious. Kids need to be kids, they don’t need to be making decisions and they need to feel that the adults in their lives are in control. When parents make the kids more important than the relationship in the couple, then kids don’t feel safe they get anxious and act out. Kids are sponges they feel it when the parents are more committed to parenting than to being married.
  5. Are your kids spending more time staring at screens than running around outside? With technology ubiquitous and our fears of our children being kidnapped, we have stopped sending them outdoors to play. Our kids are not being challenged physically or emotionally by just playing, outside, making up games with friends, and solving problems.
  6. Are you trying to control every aspect of your child’s life? We have become a nation of helicopter parents, believing that if we solve our kid’s problems they will be better off. Our children need to learn to overcome challenges to feel empowered and competent.
  7. How do you react to your child’s acting out and excessive energy? Do you get angry or defensive? Do yell or blame his or her behavior on the ADD ADHD? Is it possible to reframe the issue and see your child has having been blessed by high energy, as people who have lots of energy are successful and driven in the long term? By being compassionate, loving and forgiving of your son or daughters struggles and keeping at the job of parenting, while giving yourself compassion for the struggle you are coping with. By keeping boundaries, expectations, and rewarding your child for good behavior, having clear consequences for bad and sticking to all of it over time leads to change and better impulse control.
  8. Ultimately all kids do mature into adults, if we give them the skill sets to handle their emotions, support their gifts and give them time and room to grow up, we don’t need to medicate universally. Love wins.