Questions to Ask BEFORE Putting Your Child on Psychotropic Medication
You’re pulling your hair out. You’ve been struggling with your child’s behaviors for years and don’t know where to go from here. I meet with parents everyday in my counseling office that have just had enough of their child’s inattention, hyperactivity, aggressive hitting, kicking, and tantrums. They want answers to why their kid acts like he does. They want to know what to do to change it.
Medication is a viable option for treating childhood mental health problems, but it is not a singular solution.
Parents at this level are usually looking for something — anything — that will take the edge off, and just help make things a little more manageable.
As a counselor, parents often ask if I recommend medication for their child.
I let parents know that counselors are not qualified to recommend or prescribe medication, but I try to help them learn to ask the right questions and make an informed decision.
When considering medication treatment for behavioral troubles, I often suggest parents remember that there are many moving parts of what causes or contributes to kids’ moods, thoughts and behaviors. I ask parents to consider the mind-body aspect; to recognize that most children with legitimate mental health disorders have brain chemical components to what they feel, think, and do. The amazing thing is that what happens inside and outside the body, or what we put in our bodies, all affect how these biological events happen.
Medication can serve a very important purpose in addressing some of the biological issues associated with mental health, but can come with unwanted side effects. The job of any parent asking about medication is to do enough research and weigh the costs and benefits to make the best decision for your child and family. The following questions may help you in making that decision.
Before Seeking Medication Intervention:
- How severe are the behaviors or symptoms?
- Can I manage his symptoms or behavior?
- What supports and resources do I have that could help me manage his behavior?
- What have I tried already?