Your child has the dreaded ADHD diagnosis from the school. The school says, and you might even agree, that your child is hyperactive and has trouble paying attention. Maybe your child has uncontrollable impulses that interfere with his relationships and learning. The school has labeled your child as being difficult, and if you are like many parents, you probably don’t know what to do.
Child neurologist Fred Baughman told PBS that the ADHD diagnosis assumes that something is wrong with your child’s brain, based on behaviors that teachers and parents observe in a child. Maybe your child is exhibiting some negative behaviors, but Baughman says that doesn’t necessarily mean that there is something wrong with her brain. Maybe the parenting style or the school setting is not optimal. Baughman’s advice for parents is not to give a pill blindly to treat ADHD. Rather, you should first address what is going on in your home and at school to see if something might be causing some of the negative behavior.
Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, author of “Talking Back to Ritalin,” told PBS that giving Ritalin to a child is comparable to the true story of putting the caged polar bear, Snowball, at the Toronto Zoo, on Prozac to get the bear to stop pacing. When Snowball was on Prozac, he did stop pacing and appeared to be happy. Animal rights people protested the drugging of the bear. The same can be said about drugging children who “pace.” Children are not always going to be good and quiet, says Breggin, especially if they are sitting in a boring and overcrowded classroom. His advice to parents is only to drug your child if you want less of a child.
If you suspect that your child has ADHD, take him to your doctor who may refer your child to a specialist, such as a psychologist. According to FamilyDoctor.org, bad parenting does not cause ADHD, but a disorganized home life can make it worse. What seems to work best for children with ADHD symptoms is a team effort comprised of you, your child’s teacher and your doctor.
If you do choose to medicate your child, you should combine that type of therapy with changes you might need to make at home. For example, your child needs a routine. He needs to go to bed and wake up at specific times. He also needs to have certain times for doing homework, playing, eating, doing chores and just watching TV or playing video games. You need to make simple house rules that have consequences if your child breaks them. Make sure your child understands the rules, and reward good behavior.
The Four Rules
It’s not easy to deal with a child who exhibits ADHD symptoms. Pediatric neurologist Martin Kutsher told the Scholastic website that parents should follow four rules. First, keep your relationship with your child positive by finding something to praise. Second, stay calm, even when you are angry. You will not accomplish anything by yelling and fighting. Retreat from a charged situation, and discuss the matter when everyone is relaxed. Third, keep your child organized on an ongoing basis. The fourth rule is to continue to repeat the first three rules. You can’t fix an ADHD problem overnight.