by Carol Chandler-Wood
My 2nd grade son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD and is having difficulty in his academics at school. The doctor has suggested we begin giving him medication to help calm his hyperactivity and improve his attention span. His dad and I are conflicted about putting him on medication. Would you please share your thoughts with us?
As a parent, dealing with a child with ADHD can be extremely challenging. Getting the child to sit still can be one challenge; however, another issue is enabling the child to focus on the current task at school or at home. Since there are no medical laboratory procedures in place to be performed to know for certain that a child has ADHD, many times parents are confused as to whether the child needs more effective discipline or if he truly has an inability to focus and stay on task. Regardless of which came first, lack of focus or academic trouble, the cycle of poor performance at school must be halted.
A few suggestions to help your son improve his attention and lessen his hyperactivity are as follows:
- Set a structured routine; i.e., the same time and place, at home for play, homework, family, bed time, etc.
- Adhere to this routine at all times, including weekends. Allowing your son to go to bed later on the weekend will only disrupt his routine. Children with ADHD must have much order and structure. This causes them to feel more secure. You will find any disruption in his routine will cause problems. Children with ADHD often have more difficulty changing teachers at school, moving from one home to another, traveling to another city on a trip, and even eating at a time different than the norm for the family.
- Involve your son in some sort of physical activity in which he can run, sweat, and play. This will allow him to rid of some of his extra energy and will raise his endorphin levels, hopefully enhancing his sleep and rest which is important for him to start each day refreshed.
- Monitor his diet by eliminating the majority of sugars, preservatives, or any substance or chemical to which he could potentially be sensitive.
- Be a parent who is in charge in your home. You are to set the house rules for his conduct, your own expectations regarding his academics, treatment of you, your spouse, and siblings, household. Give him household responsibilities and enforce him completing them. Becoming part of the family team is good training for him being part of the team at school with his teacher, classmates, and other school officials. Belonging is important for all children.
Whether or not to have your child take medication to assist with attention span and/or hyperactivity is a very personal decision, and one which you must research and determine what is in the best interest of your son. I will share with you that it is my personal belief that medication should be used as a last resort. If you have tried everything you know to help him improve in his attention span and hyperactivity to no avail, then you may consider trying medication. Your son must learn. If he continues to not progress academically to a point where he has fallen well below his appropriate grade level, then intervention must take place and medication may be the only to accomplish this.