Think Twice Before You Give Your Toddler ADHD Medication!

using adhd medication for toddlers
Image via Katie Hurley

I once worked with a preschool boy who was positively full of energy. He had a lot to say, loved to move, and rarely sat perfectly still. He also had trouble making friends, but that didn't have much to do with his energy level. He ended up in my office to work on social skills, but it was clear from the start that his mom had big concerns about his non-stop energy.

There were three other kids in the family, and this little boy was the youngest. Week after week, the mom described the others as calm, quiet, and less active. She was tired and rightfully so. 

One day, she came to me with a new plan. A friend, another preschool parent, told her that even preschoolers benefit from medication. It might help him sit still in school, maybe even make more friends.

With exhaustion written all over her face, she waited patiently for my response. If she felt defeated by my response, she didn't say it. In fact, she seemed to expect me to say no. We talked about child development. We talked about exercise. We talked about sleep, diet, and limits. And we talked about her own feelings on the matter. She needed time to be alone—time to rejuvenate and find her center. Time to feel whole again. 

{ MORE: Teaching Your Toddler to Wait: 3 Tips }

At least 10,000 American toddlers are being medicated for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That's 10,000 2- to 3-year-olds taking medication outside established pediatric guidelines. The safety and effectiveness of stimulant medications have yet to be properly examined for this age group.

While very active, and even hyperactive, toddlers can be difficult to parent, stimulant medication and a diagnosis of ADHD should not be the first line of defense. In fact, it shouldn't even be the last.

Behavioral modification, parental support and education, and a heavy focus on the basics (sleep, diet, and exercise) can go a long way toward improving behavior in the home and parent-child interactions without the unnecessary and often very damaging side effects of medication (like sleep disturbance, appetite loss, and jittery behavior, to name a few).

If the absence of clear-cut proof of the effectiveness of stimulant medication for toddlers isn't enough to convince you, below are a few reasons to put the brakes on medicating your toddler.

ADVERTISEMENT

What do you think?

Think Twice Before You Give Your Toddler ADHD Medication!

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

Tell us what you think!

Advertisement
[x]
×

EverydayFamily.com Week-by-Week Newsletter

Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year! Receive weekly updates on your pregnancy or new baby’s development as well as Free Stuff, Special Offers, Product Samples, Coupons, Checklists and Tools you can use today, and more from EverydayFamily! Plus all new members are entered to win FREE diapers for a year!

Due Date or Baby's Birth Date


By clicking the "Join Now" button you are agreeing to the terms of use and privacy policy.

Send this to a friend