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How do I talk to my child about ADHD Medication?

Talking about ADHD medication with a child is a common concern that we hear from parents. How should I approach the topic? How much information is too much? Not enough? Do I even tell them?


The short answer: The more your child knows about why they need ADHD medication and how it will help them, the better. This will help your child feel empowered and part of the process, which will help with co-operation, and will help them better articulate any potential side effects. Don’t underestimate children – they can be much more self-aware than the adult world gives them credit for!


Some other thoughts to consider:

      • Focus on positive key words. When you broach the topic, help your child understand that there is nothing wrong with them or their brain – it is just wired a little bit differently.

      • Honesty is always the best policy. It might be tempting to tell your child that they’re only taking a “vitamin”, but this will likely backfire later. Yes, you will need to tailor your approach depending on the age of your child, but stick with honesty.

      • image Use the analogy of putting on glasses. Taking ADHD medication is like putting on glasses for a person who has trouble seeing. When you put on glasses, it won’t “get rid” of your blurry vision, but it will help you see more clearly while you’re wearing them.  It’s the same thing with ADHD medication – while you’re “wearing them” it can help you focus more clearly. Then, when you “take them off” at the end of the day, the medication is out of your system until the next day.

      • Enlist their help. Come up with a plan together to help keep track of side effects, or to remember to take the medication. Offering some control can help them feel more part of the process and can increase buy-in.

      • If your child is refusing to take medication, find out why. There are so many potential reasons why this may be happening, many of which may have a simple solution. You won’t find this out, however, until you sit down and get to the bottom of it.

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