Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Meds for your child? What you need to know.

The decision to put a child on medication is never a light one. I can count many a parent who has said to me, “ I will never put my child on medication”. There is always some reason behind their strong feelings and usually it involves the fear that they will lose the person their child really is. They don’t want their child to be a zombie or controlled in “that way”.

Because of that, I find it bears repeating ad nauseam: The purpose of a medication is NOT to control your child. The purpose of a medication is to help a child control him or herself. If your child is doing well without medication, that is wonderful. However, I have had more than one parent, who gave me an anti-medication lecture trying to use my son as an example. They have actually pointed to him and said, “See? He’s doing fine right now”. This is a dead point to make because he takes his medications every single day. That means, at the exact time they pointed at him, he was under the effects of his medication. Were he not, I guarantee you “okay” would not have escaped their lips. Naturally some have given me the example of how well their own child is doing.

You cannot take example of how other peoples children are doing, with or without as concrete example of how your child will do. You must do the homework and research for yourself. That being said, here is what you need to know about applying medications to your child.

Trial and Error: Getting the right results from medications with your child will always, always, always be result of trial and error. There are no guaranteed results that will occur in every single child who tries any given medication. That goes for adults as well, for anyone who is going to start medications for disorders.

Time and Patience: Results don’t happen overnight, period. To gauge full effects of any med you may have to administer them for at least a week and up to a month. During that time, you will have to watch for side effects and give them time to either clear up, or show you that your child can’t use that medication. You will have to see how long the level of the med has a proper effect and talk to the doctor about whether or not to increase dosage.

Know your meds!: Read about them, research them, and know them inside and out. How long before you see results? What are the side effects? If they are wrong for your child, can you stop them cold turkey, or do you have wean them off? You need to know all these things for any form of medicating you intend to do with your child.

Don’t cut out the doctor: I don’t care what you are giving your child, over the counter or prescribed. Especially if you are using prescriptions and plan to add other chemicals from “over the counter”, you need to have a doctor on board to advise you on what those extras could do mixed with things your child is already taking. Things like Melatonin, food additives, and supplements can interact with existing medications and bring out undesired effects. Keep your doctor on board and close to what you are doing. Don’t hesitate to call and bug your doctors office with questions and make sure to do research.

No, medication is not for everyone but it is necessary for some. Not only should we not judge others for their use of medications (whether they do or don’t), we should educate ourselves before we do. Considering your child for medication? Get educated and know the territory. Remember that you are your childs best and most important advocate.

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