Many parents wonder: children so often receive their ADHD diagnosis at a very young age. Is ADHD medication really safe for them? The short answer any qualified ADHD professional will tell you: YES – ASSUMING…
ADHD medications – both stimulants and non-stimulants – have been approved by the FDA for use in young children for decades. They have a many-years-long track record of safety and effectiveness.
So why did I add the word “assuming” to my answer?
Because, like all medications, ADHD meds need to be handled responsibly.
1. Professional Prescription Only
ADHD medication may only be prescribed by a medical professional qualified to diagnose and treat ADHD. Never act on anyone else’s recommendation to put your child on medication – even if they’re a well-meaning relative who has an extra bottle at home. Only if a qualified doctor has fully evaluated your child and concluded that medication makes sense should you start with medication.
2. Dose Responsibly
Like any other medicine, over or underdosing a patient can lead to unhappy consequences. It takes an ADHD professional’s skill to determine the right medication type and dosage for your child. It will likely be a process of trial and error. Stay on top of that process, bring your child in punctually for follow-up appointments, and provide your doctor with all information necessary to make well-informed decisions on dosage
3. Keep Your Eyes Open
Yes, it takes a doctor’s know-how to make final dosing decisions, but parents play an equally important role. As your child begins medication or adjusts to a new type or dosage, monitor him carefully. Is he responding well? Did this change seem to cause any unexpected negative consequences? Keep a close eye on your child, and report any concerns to your doctor.
4. Prepare for Side Effects
Side effects don’t have to be a safety concern. Yes, some ADHD medications can trigger strong side-effects. Of course, be sure to report any concerns about side effects to your doctor. S/he may adjust your child’s dose, advise switching to a different type of medication, or simply give you useful advice for coping with the side effects you can’t eliminate.
Parents tend to worry about a common stimulant side-effect – loss of appetite. They fear their child’s growth will be stunted because he isn’t eating properly. In general, a bit of advanced planning can solve those concerns. Ensure that your child eats a big, nutritious meal in the morning, before she takes her medication. In the evening, once the medication wears off, she might suddenly feel starving and want to compensate for all the skipped meals. Make sure to have enough food available for her to fill that need. That way, she’ll be getting the nutrition she needs, albeit on a different schedule than most.
5. The Bottom Line
Ultimately, as this article keeps implying, the key to successful, safe medication therapy is a strong ongoing relationship with your doctor. Make sure you’ve chosen a practitioner you’re comfortable speaking with, so you don’t hesitate to raise concerns or report important facts. Keep your doctor aware of any change in your child’s condition, and follow their instructions carefully.
Like all approved pediatric drugs, ADHD medications are proven to be safe – assuming parents handle the process responsibly, keeping a qualified medical professional involved in their journey.
An ADHD Online Course Can Provide Additional Answers
Participants in my ADHD parenting course, “Disover the Gift of ADHD,” receive a free, comprehensive guide to ADHD medication – how to make smart decisions, how to treat effectively, and how to ensure safety. To learn more, click here.