Treating ADHD in Kids: Medication

In many cases, medication is part of a child's treatment plan. These medications provide a steady supply of the chemicals needed to send and receive messages within the brain.

Sending messages

Certain stimulants cause some sites in the brain to send stronger messages. When the messages are stronger, the child has better control over attention and activity. Stimulants work quickly and last a few hours.

Receiving messages

Some antidepressants help the brain receive messages better. Used to treat depression and inattention, these medications are taken daily.

Be aware

It may take a few tries to find the best medication for your child. The amount and time of use may also need to be adjusted. In some cases, your child may need to be checked for side effects. If medication doesn't help, think about having your child reevaluated.

Parent's role

  • Learn about the medication your child takes, any side effects that might occur, and what results you can expect.
  • Seek a second opinion if you have concerns about how your child's treatment is being managed.
  • Make sure you, the school staff, and other caregivers follow all directions for giving your child medication.
  • Watch your child for positive changes both at home and in school. Keep track of any side effects. Tell the doctor what you or others observe.
  • Avoid running low on medication. Some prescriptions are special and need extra time to fill.

Child's role

  • How do you feel after you take your medication? Tell your parents and doctor how you feel.
  • Your medication comes in a pill. If you can't swallow the whole pill, ask your parents how to make it easier.
  • Learn when to take your pill. Remind your parents or teachers when it is time.
  • If someone teases you about taking medication, talk to your parents or teacher. They can help you decide what to tell that person.