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Medicating Kids for Behavioral Disorders: What Do You Think?

The decision to give a child drugs for any reason is never an easy one.

Moms Talk is a weekly feature on all Lehigh Valley Patches in which local parents, caregivers and other members of the community are invited to share opinions and advice on parenting topics.

This week’s Moms Talk question relates to medicating children for behavior issues:

Parents who make the decision to give their kids prescription drugs to combat behavioral issues surely don't come to that decision lightly. Yet, those who critique the choice -- and there are many who do -- say the pills are an easy way out -- for the parents -- who would rather drug their kids than take the time to parent.

We want to know what you think:

What do you think about medicating children for behavioral disorders?

Our Moms Council members include: 

  • Lisa Amey of Upper Milford Township is a stay-at-home mom to an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. A past president of the MOMS Club of Emmaus and longtime member of MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers), Lisa is an Independent Consultant for Arbonne International. 
  • Lisa Drew of Emmaus is a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, wellness and fitness coach with more than 17 years of experience. She is the mother of a 13-year-old girl and a 9-year-old boy.
  • Jennifer Elston of Emmaus has almost two decades of professional experience in child development and counseling. She is currently a stay-at-home mom to two beautiful girls. Together with her husband, Chris, she owns Christopher Elston Photography.
  • Jeanne Lombardo of Nazareth is the mother of a 10-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. She’s new to the Lehigh Valley, having moved to Nazareth from Bergen County, NJ in January.
  • Lisa Merk of Lower Macungie is a stay-at-home mother of four boys – a 12-year-old and 6-year-old triplets. Lisa is a past president of the MOMS Club of Lower Macungie East. In her “spare” time, Lisa teaches piano to school-age children.
  • Zoila Bonilla Paul of Bethlehem is a stay-at-home mom to two girls – a 5-year-old and a 14-month-old. Zoila is a member of her local “moms’ club” and says she is “well-versed in the fun that children can bring.”
  • Beth Sharpless of Emmaus works part time in a local emergency department as a nurse and part time from home as a customer support specialist. She has two children -- a boy who is almost 2 and a 5-year-old girl. She says they love spending time outdoors and dancing.
  • Jennifer Willenbrock of Nazareth is mom to two beautiful daughters, ages 5 and 6 weeks. She was previously employed by Catholic Charities, where she worked in a girl’s group home in Philipsburg, N.J.  

If you would like to become a part of the Moms Council and/or have ideas for future Moms Talk questions, please email jennifer.marangos@patch.com.

Lisa Amey March 25, 2012 at 08:12 PM
A close family member of mine has profound autism. Over the course of 16 years, his parents have had him on and off medications to assist with behaviorial issues at different stages of development when needed. I think in this case everyone would like to keep him off the meds if possible, and have experimented at times going without. It is a difficult, ongoing decision making process, to evaluate whether the meds are necessary, whether the side effects are tolerable, and other considerable factors. I think parents have medications as one tool in their parenting toolbelt, and should have the option to use as they and their doctor see fit.
Dr Travis Mayon, III MD March 25, 2012 at 11:42 PM
Basically doped up kids that parents cant handle, the problem with society is anyone can become a parent, no license or test required, what a joke the biggest drug addicts are children that their parents supply drugs to via legal prescriptions, society says you cant strike a child with punishment for wrong doings so parents have to drug their children a generation of entitled children are learning that the work place is not like school, there are consequences for acting like a spoiled brat at work
Lisa Merk March 25, 2012 at 11:46 PM
I personally don't think you should give children any kind of drugs if at all possible. BUT, if that is what is best for the child to help him/her for whatever reason, (focus, anger control, autism) then that is what should be done. I would think it's a very hard desicion to make, I would just like to see all other options exhausted before putting a child on meds. especially long term medication.
Beth March 26, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Unfortunately, we live in a society now where a lot of people want a magic pill for whatever ails them or their loved ones. Have a cold? Call the doc and get an antibiotic. Have a kid that may be going through some normal developmental issues, call the doctor, they'll get you something to help out. All too often I have seen kids with as many as 5 to 8 or 9 different medications. Overseen my multiple practitioners. I don't know how that can be good for anyone. I do believe, however, with the right treatment plan, involved parents, and a multidisciplinary support team, medications can be utilized to help move the child and their behaviors into a positive direction. I don't think it's the end all be all.
Ronald Merkensen March 26, 2012 at 02:45 AM
The only people who would say there is never a reason to medicate chidren with behavior difficulties, are the ones who have not had to live with it on a first hand basis.
Ronald Merkensen March 26, 2012 at 02:47 AM
If you are a doctor, which i doubt, you're not a good one..
Jaded1 March 26, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Really...if you are a medical doctor, you should have your remote Carribean island license revoked.
cheryl March 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM
amen to that
Salisbury Resident March 26, 2012 at 02:21 PM
It is the choice of the parent. When done so properly under the guidance of a physician, it is the business of no one else. As a result, I do not have the right to have an opinion. Should this be an issue that needs to be addressed with my child (I am not saying it has, or has not), it would be one I would would make with the other parent of the child along with the physician on what is best. Until then, this is not a topic the columnist to debate.
Queen Elizabeth March 26, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Physicians are drug dealers for the pharmaceutical companies, the more prescriptions they write they more kickbacks and incentive laden rewards they get. Kinda sad we have a generation of parents who can not parent as well as their parents did and resort to mind altering drugs... children nowadays are a bunch of junkies
Loving Mom March 26, 2012 at 04:56 PM
I have a child with ADHD and until you walk in my shoes no one should judge a parent who puts their child on medication. Before doing so I tried to watch my childs diet with no dyes or sugars, I tried many natural holistic remedies, I tried a chiropractor and also therapy. The day I decided to put my child on medicine I was in the doctors office crying because I tried everything in my power to help my child and I didn't want my child on medicene!!!!! But after doing so it was the best thing I could have done to help my child succed in school and life. People should not judge others until they are put in that situation. To me that is just ignorance
American Dad March 26, 2012 at 08:18 PM
i honestly blame you behavior when the child was incubating in your womb for the resulting ADHD burden, every drug has long term consequences, just because you cant del with being a parent of a child who needs special attention doesnt mean you should be drugging him or her.
Mgmitch March 27, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Educate yourself. Then you would know that what you wrote is not only wrong but hurtful...
Sheila Corley March 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM
ADHD and ADD are NOT BEHAVIORAL problems.....behaviors may result as a symptom of the disorder. I believe medicating as a last resort when the child is well into school years can be the only option for your child to succeed. Self-esteem is so important. As for medicating for behavioral issues.....I've yet to meet a parent who admits to it and quite frankly I don't know a doctor who would write that prescription....or what they would write it for. I have a son with behavioral issues and boy would I LOVE a magic pill....but it's just a part of his personality and I do my best each day to embrace everything about him. Strong boundaries and consequences are key to his success.
Parkland is a money drain March 27, 2012 at 01:40 PM
ADHD and ADD are excuses by parents for bad parenting, some people cant cope with being responsible parents and need an excuse for their failures
Just Sick and Tired March 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I prefer beating children, but then I'm old fashioned.
Informed Parent March 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
In an attempt to clarify some information stated here: ADHD is a neurological disorder that is diagnosed by medical professionals. It is listed in the DSM as a valid medical condition. Brain scans have been done on children with and without ADHD and you can see a difference in the brain activity of these children. Additionally, while childhood ADHD can be the result of something the mother did while pregnant it also can be inherited. It is in some children's genetic makeup. Admittedly, there are some instances where this is an over-diagnosed/ misdiagnosed disorder and some children are improperly medicated. To condemn and criticize others for something without knowing all the facts about their specific life situation is wrong. Children accurately diagnosed with ADHD are good wonderful sons and daughters who truly want to please and to have control but are unable to adequately demonstrate control due to a neurological disorder. Imagine, as a young child, trying your hardest to "be good" and every day being told that wasn't good enough. You're punishing someone for something that is truly beyond their control. When you experience the benefits of appropriate medication for your child you will understand that, although it may have been the most difficult decision as a parent, it was the best. If you gave your diabetic child insulin would we still be having this discussion over medicating your child?
Informed Parent March 27, 2012 at 02:21 PM
In an attempt to clarify some information stated here: ADHD is a neurological disorder that is diagnosed by medical professionals. It is listed in the DSM as a valid medical condition. Brain scans have been done on children with and without ADHD and you can see a difference in the brain activity of these children. Additionally, while childhood ADHD can be the result of something the mother did while pregnant it also can be inherited. It is in some children's genetic makeup. Admittedly, there are some instances where this is an over-diagnosed/ misdiagnosed disorder and some children are improperly medicated. To condemn and criticize others for something without knowing all the facts about their specific life situation is wrong. Children accurately diagnosed with ADHD are good wonderful sons and daughters who truly want to please and to have control but are unable to adequately demonstrate control due to a neurological disorder. Imagine, as a young child, trying your hardest to "be good" and every day being told that wasn't good enough. You're punishing someone for something that is truly beyond their control. When you experience the benefits of appropriate medication for your child you will understand that, although it may have been the most difficult decision as a parent, it was the best. If you gave your diabetic child insulin would we still be having this discussion over medicating your child?
Janet Smith-Flores March 27, 2012 at 05:42 PM
Let me qualify my statement by explaining that I have ADD. As a young adult, I tried a so called "medication" to help me focus. I felt like a zombie. I listened to the doctor and kept using it for 2 plus weeks. It was very disturbing. I did not feel like myself and felt like I was impaired. The reason ADD can be captured with a brain scan is just that---the brain works differentlly in people with it. It is my belief that the medical community has classified people whose brains work different than whatever the norm is considered. With the rise in Autistic spectrum cases, I would believe that more people are outside of the "norm"' than within it. Children with ADD and ADHD learn differently. They are by no means stupid. It is not natural for a child to want to sit in a chair for hours. Children are naturally more physically inclined. While ADHD children may be considered more hyper than so-called normal, their energy should be harnassed. There are other ways to reach them, teach them and they can thrive. My attention span is still shorter than most, but I am a perfect example of what good educators can do. I have attained a Masters Degree and continue to use the creativity (that I believe is a by-product of my ADD brain) to move ahead in life. My child may very well have ADD, but I will never medicate him; at best, I will be his advocate and assist him on his journey to get educated in our narrow minded society.
Jennifer Elston March 27, 2012 at 06:47 PM
I see both sides of the argument here. There were times where, in my work, I saw parents with bad parenting skills medicate children. It was sad and disheartening. I watched psychiatrists hand out scripts to parents who didn't pay any attention to their kids unless it was to yell at them, who didn't follow through on a consequence (or reward for that matter) or regulate their OWN anger let alone their child's! This is the sad case where those children should not be on medication. It is the fault of the parent--and his/her lack of parenting skills. On the other hand, I have seen many children and adults with mental illnesses benefit from the proper medication structure. Medication is one tool to be used in conjunction with a well rounded knowledge of the needs of that person. It's best when parents are advocates for their children (and themselves!) and they do what is best for their children. Mental illness still has a stigma. It's sad.
Shawn Heller March 28, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Queen Elizabeth, how many children do you have? Ever spend time with an Autistic child? or a child with ADD or ADHD? I have a 13 year old who suffers from Bi-polar, severe anxiety, and ADD. How about I take her off her medication and send her to your house for a week. Your a Moron to assume that we are not as good as our parents.
Shawn Heller March 28, 2012 at 12:09 AM
Amen, Loving Mom. Well said. Good Luck to you and your child.
fasod March 29, 2012 at 10:05 AM
I agree!!! The problem today is parents can not discipline their children as our parents disciplined us. If the children would get a good ass whipping, as we did, I do not believe we would be seeing all of these "so called" behaorial problems. They have to know there are consequences for their actions, not take a pill.
fasod March 29, 2012 at 10:12 AM
Medication has its place with people with diseases and/or mental illness. But if medicating your children instead of disciplining them is your answer, the no. You also have to keep in mind the side effects or the long term effects these medications will have on them that no one even know yet. Be a parent and parent, not medicate.
fasod March 29, 2012 at 10:15 AM
I agree. Discipline is the key.
Heather N. March 29, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Here's a really interesting article that addresses the role that age plays in ADD/ADHD diagnosis: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/05/health/adhd-diagnosis-youngest-kids/index.html?iref=obinsite
Aaryn (Abby) Balliet-Kalis April 13, 2012 at 03:09 AM
So you're saying me, who was diagnosed with childhood schizophrenia and bipolar disease, should just be beaten because that's the obvious cure? Oh, I see, they get hit to hard, they come to you right? Go home, you're not a doctor.

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