In my field of mental health, I have noticed a disturbing trend in the “treatment” of what is usually described as overly active behavior in children. This trend began over 20 years ago and has been increasing since then. The solution for these children? Medicate them down! Slow them down and eliminate the problem.
Now, certainly there are children where medication is both needed and appropriate – but not in the numbers that are being seen today. In many cases the children are simply acting like children. Little boys are typically singled out more due to their usual higher levels of activity. Sedate the child down and the problem is solved for everyone – except the child.
Remember that these drugs are not a free ride – they all have consequences. For example, a drug that was very popular 10 years ago is now forbidden for use in children due to the physical damage to the liver that it caused. Is it any wonder that later in life when they are confronted by a problem that they turn to drugs for the solution?
The causes for this are usually schools with not enough teachers, over crowded classrooms and parents that are over burdened with economic demands.
What can a parent do? Before you ask your physician to reach for his prescription pad, I suggest that you seek a second opinion from a qualified child psychologist, special education, or mental health children’s specialist. You can also monitor and control a little better the television programs your child watches and try to minimize the violent and anti-social content. You can find the time to have some meaningful discussions with your child on issues of basic values and behavioral expectations. This last approach is the one that I took in my recent book “The Adventures of Seamus the Sheltie,” which includes a Parental Discussion Guide. This can be seen at: (jbeverly.npauthors.com).
There are of course other approaches and methods that can be tried. Medication to sedate, tranquilize, or control behavior, should be the last resort – not the first.
So before you have your child hit with that pharmaceutical nightstick, pause a bit, and seek out some other advice and opinions.
Remember, you can also always try what has worked for so long – meaningfully talking with your child and letting your behavior set the example.
Give your child a break!