Is ADHD A Real Disorder?
So your child has been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and you're not sure what to do next. I realize that opinions may differ and emotions can run high with regard to the subject of ADHD cures, ADHD treatment and whether or not Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is real. This article represents my opinion, and is not meant to be construed as medical advice. I have worked with many children who have been diagnosed with ADHD, and here are my thoughts:
1. Get educated. Published studies and neurological testing shows that ADHD is a real condition that does exist in certain individuals, and this article is not meant for these individuals. While I don't completely dispute these studies, I do feel that ADD and ADHD is tremendously over diagnosed, especially in boys. Because of this, many children who need their parents to find an alternate method of dealing with them become diagnosed with a condition that is supposedly controlled by medication. The effects of ADHD medications on children is beyond the scope of this article, but what I will say, is that those who think the medication "works" may wish to do further research on these medications and how they affect the brain and body. The diagnosis of ADHD takes the blame off the parents who were not using effective parentingÂ skills to begin with, so that they don't have to make any adjustments to their routine at home. Instead, they can breathe a sigh of relief and blame their child's poor behavior on this magic diagnosis, which I fondly nicknamed "the Alpha-BS-Disease".
2. Reconsider the diagnosis. As the parent, you know your child better than everyone else, and you have the right to question or disagree with anything that pertains to your child. Just because your child has been given a suggestion of having ADD or ADHD doesn't necessarily mean its valid. Take into account the "signs" of ADHD: fidgety, lack of attentiveness, hyperactivity, poor attention span and impulsiveness. If your child has these signs, perhaps they are a typical adolescent, instead of a diagnosis. I know that when I was a young boy, I was a fidgety hyper kid, but didn't have anything wrong with me- I was just being a child. You will notice that many ADHD websites are sponsored by the very same pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs that are prescribed for this condition. Coincidence? I think not. Medicating your child to make the teacher's jobÂ (or your job) easier is not going to help your child. Loving and consistent discipline and home routine will.
3. Try a different approach. Instead of medicating your child to change his behavior, you should consider changing yours. As parents, its hard to admit that we make mistakes and do things wrong, and that we are not consistent, but it happens to the best of us. Consistency is exhausting, especially with a child who is going out of his way to make things harder for you, but the key is to be more stubborn than your child is. A good attempt at modifying your own behavior might prove invaluable in proving or disproving your child's diagnosis.
4. Outline a list of household rules. Be sure to include what is expected out of your child in terms of chores, grades, pets, curfews- everything you can think of. Go over this with your child, and make your expectations crystal clear. Have your child explain your expectations to you, so that you both know that he understands them. Tell your child that there will be consequences if they do not obey your rules, and follow through with the consequences, each and every time. Is punishing your child the same as punishing yourself? Sometimes. But follow through is absolutely imperative if you want to motivate your child to change their behavior.
5. Don't argue with your child- ever. ADHD children tend to be argumentative much to the dismay of their frustrated parents. When you tell your child to do something or give them a household rule to follow, many children will begin to argue with you. They are persistent in persuading their parents that they are more righteous, louder and more persistent. There is a simple way to ensure that you don't argue with your child, and that is accomplished by making a simple statement to your child. "I am the parent, and I don't owe you an explanation." This is important, because as a responsible parent who makes decisions in the best interest of your child, you don't owe them an explanation or anything further. We didn't argue with our parents- we were told to do something, and we did it without back talk. Keep the tradition alive, and don't argue with your child. Repeat this phrase as often as necessary, and don't stop until you have convinced your child that you mean what you say.
6. Hold your child accountable. Is the poor behavior that you are experiencing a symptom of ADHD, or is it simply bad behavior? Where was the ADHD diagnosis 30 years ago? If we can have the audacity to openly hold our children and ourselves accountable, we've won half the battle.