Very Angry WomanA reader's lament

I give up! I.GIVE.UP! My daughter is 7 and has been diagnosed with ADHD, she takes medication to help her get through school hours, but I just don't know what to do with her anymore when she is at home.

She doesn't listen EVER, I seriously repeat myself for 4 hours and 30 minutes until bed time. She obviously has ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) as well, but I just don't know what to do anymore! And her new thing is telling me to "not yell at her" I yell after I have asked her to do something 999 times and she is still ignoring me.

Angry Mother

Parenting ADHD children is really tough and just when we think we have mastered one aspect and things are trundling along nicely another bombshell hits us.

A  discussion on Facebook has been about whether to medicate after school, on weekends and during the holidays. Medicating your child is always a hugely difficult decision. No parent chooses to "drug" their child and there are so many well meaning folk out there who will judge your decisions and add to your guilt. Linked to this is the fact there are so many myths around ADHD Medication and the horrendous side effects that will afflict your child.

ADHD Medication is outrageously expensive and in many instances prescribing doctors charge a substantial fee to write out the monthly script. Many medical aids will not pay for any ADHD medication either especially if it is for adults. They somehow believe that your ADHD disappears the day you turn eighteen. Fortunately you can get certain ADHD medications from State Clinics.

The above reasons all contribute to why Parents don't medicate their ADHD children / teens 24/7 and 365 days a year. Yet we have ADHD all day and all night and we don't grow out of it. Yes, we can learn to manage it and if we have learned the necessary life skills we might well not require medication later on.

Every medication has side effects whether you require a prescription for it or not. Take a look in your medicine cabinet. That piece of paper that takes up more space in the medication box than the pills lists all sorts of possible side effects that may occur. This does not mean that you or your children should take ADHD medication and suffer. Be aware of the possible side effects, monitor how the medication is working using our ACT Forms which you can download when you subscribe to our newsletters, and talk about your fears openly with your prescribing medical practitioner.

You might also like to take look at the food labels on the jars and cans and packets in your food cupboard. Additives and chemicals are present in everything we eat or drink and unless we grow it ourselves without adding any fertilisers or pest controls we have to face facts that we are consuming things that may well have unwanted side-effects. We need to be pragmatic and do our best for our children with the resources we have.

This Mom says she gives her child the medication to "get her through school". This is another very popular misconception about ADHD medication. It is the magic potion that will fix the ADHD. Unfortunately ADHD medication makes you aware that you have been distracted but YOU need to learn the life skills to manage your ADHD. Take a look at this video clip to see what ADHD medication actually does.

Because of our distraction we don't learn these life skills. We don't know how to study, how to set goals, how not to procrastinate, how to behave socially, how to control our impulsivity etc. Poor self observation is a key characteristic of ADHD. We need to watch how other people react to us to see if our behaviour is acceptable.

Giving your child or teen the medication only when they are at school is often worse than not giving medication at all. They can function while on the medication and then it is taken away. It is often taken away when they need it most i.e. when they need to be sociable, playing sport, doing their homework. These are all situations where the usual structure is not there and they are suddenly expected to cope. This is why they become more aggressive, belligerent, moody and anxious and often very weepy.

I am willing to bet that there isn't a parent of an ADHD child out there who hasn't yelled him or herself hoarse or considered leaving home or worse. Sometimes we justify our children's behaviour because we know they are wrapped up in what they are doing, they forget, they don't hear, they don't understand what they were told to do etc.

Unfortunately the reality is that they have learned from an early age to manipulate you. How often will you repeat yourself before you will actually act. They switch off. As Parents you need to take back control. ADHD children actually crave the structure but can't create it for themselves. They don't like being hated by their friends and family and their bad behaviour does not endear them to anyone. Despite the brave facade they are usually terrified and very unhappy.

We have lots of simple tools to help you Parent your ADHD family better and to teach your children the essential life skills that will help them become productive and contented adults.

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