Why I Didn’t Regret Putting Son On ADHD Medicine At Age 4
Looking back at this robust picture of my son I am filled with nostalgia. We were forever taking our son places to get his energy out in hopes of having a peaceful night. (Which rarely happened!) Billy was filled with so much energy and life! At times it was pleasurable to watch and gave me the feeling that we had done a good job of providing a happy environment for him. Other times, I would cry in frustration of what we were doing wrong.
Taking him to the pool, we had to make sure his life jacket was on before exiting the car. Otherwise, we would have a hard time catching up to him. If you read my first post HERE you know safety was first priority. Not until we had exhausted all other avenues did we make the decision to put Billy on ADHD medicine at age four and it was what he needed.
I admit sometimes parents and doctors put children on ADHD medicine as a quick fix without being thoroughly evaluated. Also important to note is before medicating a child is to try other avenues. These are some of the techniques we used before medication with little success:
- I read a ton of books on ADHD/Oppositional Defiant Disorder
- Behavior Modification techniques
- Sticker charts and chore charts
- Rewarding good behavior by “catching” him being good
- Time Outs – Didn’t work for us as he wouldn’t sit or stand still (We followed the advice of our therapist of strapping him to a chair and was the worst hour ever!)
- Reframing what I said when disciplining
- Adjusted his diet by removing dyes, additives, etc.
- Trying child yoga with him at night to try to teach him to calm his mind
- Had him evaluated and tested by a psychologist and she commented he was one of the most active kids she had seen
No matter how we sliced and diced it, it was always the same result. Trying to show him “who is boss” left us with a strong-willed child out of control and me in tears. Eventually, I would lose my temper, scream, cry and beg him to listen.
We ended up changing daycares as their solution to the problem was to blame our parenting style and we weren’t being firm enough. By the time the Director of the daycare got done with me, I felt like a dog that had been scolded and headed home with my tail between my legs. Needless to say, we changed daycares shortly after.
After starting Billy on 5 mg of Ritalin per day, here is what I noticed from the get go:
- Billy was more focused and attentive
- He listened to direction and didn’t argue
- Trying the medicine at home first, I watched Billy ride his bike. For for the first time ever, he stayed on the sidewalk and wore his helmet
- The daycare noticed he kept his hands to himself and followed directions better
- There was no running ahead of us into a street or parking lot before we could catch him
- Bath time and the nighttime routine was more manageable
- We entered into Cognitive Therapy
At the time, I thought this was the beginning of the end and our prayers had been answered. However, this was not the case. Little did I know this was just the beginning of the ADHD road ahead of us. (More to come later!)
What I want to leave you with in this post is that a true ADHD child needs medication, not only for your sake, but for their sake as well. It wasn’t until many years later that I learned he didn’t like feeling out of control either. There is no magic answer but I want others to know they shouldn’t feel guilty for doing what they feel is best for their child and their family.
What is your opinion? Have you had to put a child on medication at an early age? If so, what controversy did you face?