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Mom Opinions: Why It's Wrong to Medicate Kids for ADHD

Mom Opinions: Why It's Wrong to Medicate Kids for ADHD

Mom Opinions: Why It's Wrong to Medicate Kids for ADHD

I have an extremely active son. He's two-and-a-half. He's been active since I began feeling him move around inside me when I was five month's pregnant. Like, non-stop. Did this fetus ever sleep? He certainly didn't sleep when I tried to sleep, and he was especially roused by my everyday activities, such as drinking water, walking and playing music. Olin wanted to run before he could walk. And he got bruises on his head trying. He is, by his very nature, an active kid.

Short Attention Spans in Toddlers are Normal

Being active is really different from having a short attention span. Having a long attention span is a function of age and training. Even toddlers who don't run around all the time like Olin does tend to have really short attention spans. That's because the neurons in the brain that allow us to pay attention for long periods of time are still developing, according to Lise Eliot in What's Going On In There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life. In other words, it's really normal for a toddler's attention to flit around like a hummingbird among sweet flowers.

When other parents of toddlers worry that their child has ADHD, I dismiss the idea not their concern, but the idea that a child so young could be diagnosed with such a condition. ADHD is a relatively new phenomenon in the world of psychiatry/psychology. It has only been a diagnostic possibility since the 1970s, and criteria for accurate diagnosis were not solidified until 1998. Childcare guru Penelope Leach, in Your Baby and Child, says that the hormone present in kids with true ADHD, serotonin, is not even present until around age five. So how could a toddler be said to have this condition? And even if s/he did, might it not be treated with something other than medication?



Why Do We Start with Drugs?

Our culture abounds with the suggestion that we should catch this condition early and treat it with, among other therapies, medication. But side effects are rampant, and the effectiveness of medications is questionable, especially as a long-term solution. So why do we start with drugs?

Full disclosure: I'm not sure that I believe in ADHD as a true diagnosis, at any age. For 20 years, I've taught writing to freshmen in college, and many have had what seemed to me like very short attention spans. Some have diagnoses of ADHD, and some do not. But all benefited from a teacher's attention and careful analysis of their work. Every single student, medicated or not, happy or not, became more focused when we collaborated on learning how to do so. The effort to cultivate an attention span resulted in.... a greater attention span. This is no big surprise, until you consider the lengths we take to medicate short attention span as a "condition." 

Do we medicate kids for ADHD only as a last resort, or do we try to speed up the process of learning concentration and focus by calling the condition a pathology and using medication as a shortcut?

Let's bring this issue into the light, and not just assume it is a medical condition that can only be transcending with drugs.

Image Source: Courtesy of YLegrand via Flickr/Creative Commons

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

Join The Conversation
CoMMember13627817436175 CoMMember13627817436175 3 years
I refused to put my son on medication when the school was pressuring us. Instead of chose a blend of essential oils called Jeddy's Blend and have been able to keep him off of meds. The side effects of the meds are horrible. Natural alternatives should be tried first and all means exhausted before going to medication.
Amy13367 Amy13367 5 years
I agree! My 7 yr old is on medication for ADHD and ODD, but my 5 yr old does not have either. I would never medicate a child that was just "busy" or "hyper." All 3-5 yr olds are busy and hyper. I waited until my 7 yr old was 6 before I chose to start him on meds. Even though I KNEW he was ADHD when he was 4. But I really felt he was too young. I wanted to give him a chance to outgrow some of his hyperactivity and defiance, he never did.
GultenNarli GultenNarli 5 years
I don't like medications and try not to give any to my autistic son but if your child needs to focus and the medications help him to learn why not. Wouldn't you give insullin to your kid if he/she has diabeties?
CindyDoyle56415 CindyDoyle56415 5 years
I agree at a certain age they are just active. However, I also agree boys at about 5th grade need to be mediated for ADD. It only helps them. doesn't have to be a bad drug and an addictive one. But, I have ADD and wish my mom would have medicated me.
TerriAllison TerriAllison 5 years
Really, it all depends on the child. When a child is honestly trying to behave and do well in school and they are consistently getting in trouble and can't concentrate, then meds can be the appropriate treatment. Our son went all through Middle School without meds and was an average student who had trouble getting his work completed and turned in. As we started high school this year, he asked me about getting back on his medication. We took him to the doctor, she reevaluated him and determined that the best meds were. In his case, the generic version of Concerta works wonders. Two grading periods are done for this semester and so far he has had 6 As and 1 B in both grading periods. They help him and as long as he feels they are necessary, we'll keep him on them. That said, he did not get on meds until he started school. There is no legitimate need for a 2 yr old to take ADHD medication.
Dorinahart Dorinahart 5 years
My son is 9 and we all know how very smart my son is, and when he can't pay attention in school, I decided to take him to the Doctor and try meds, at first I said NO to a stimulate, after a few meds that went right, we are now on vyvance, a stimulate, he's great on it, the other meds made him like a zombie, this med makes him the same happy boy, just now he can pay attention :-)
CarrieDavey CarrieDavey 5 years
I have to disagree my son has ADHD and is on medication and I know its the bet thing for him and even the medication he gets a ton of love and I work very hard at keeping him busy and out of trouble. I feel that not all children need to be put on meds but when it affects their learning I feel if you can help them with a low dose medication then do so my son was doing poorly in school now is at the top of the class he is a very smart young man. He needed focus and they helped him gain focus and he is so proud of how well he is doing. Sometimes re directing doesn't always do the job that doesn't mean I don't love my child and do my best to keep him happy and healthy having a child on ADHD medications doesn't make you a bad parent it make you a parent who cares enough to give them the best chance at life and what they need to grow in fine adults. Its just my opinion and my take on my whats best for my child and many others out there that are medications for the same reasons
JoyceCarter98826 JoyceCarter98826 5 years
I agree on not medicating children with supposed ADHD, my son is 6 and very active as well.. although I take the time to re-direct him rather than medicate him. Once you start the medication then forget a dose and the child acts out then it's blamed on ADHD and the medication..had you not started the medication perhaps that child wouldn't be so hard to handle otherwise.. Just a thought. I have not and do not plan to medicate my son as long as re-directing and lots of love and attention are working :)
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