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Warnings about possible side effects of prescription medications are updated frequently. To stay abreast of recent warnings that may have been issued on your child's medication, visit the Food and Drug Administration's drug-safety index website, and ask your pharmacist for an update each time you refill the prescription.
By Shashank V. Joshi, M.D.,FAAP
Again, your child's doctor will go over the specifics, depending on the medicine used. I encourage all patients to take all medicines seven days a week, at least for the first month. This allows parents to observe any changes during the weekends. If the team decides that taking the medication is not necessary on the weekends, so be it. However, this rule only applies to the psychostimulants. All other psychotropic medications need to be taken each and every day unless the doctor tells you otherwise.
Be sure to pick your words carefully when praising your child's behavior or setting limits. "Wow, you're having a great day today. You must have taken your meds!" is a somewhat backhanded compliment. Better to say, "Wow, you're trying really hard today. Nice job of paying attention, (or cleaning your room, sticking with a hard assignment, or staying in your seat"). Without overdoing it, publicly praise as much as possible to bolster self-esteem and focus on your child's strengths. Be generous with the small but significant non-verbal cues of life — a pat on the back here, a high-five there. You're spending a lot of time, effort, and spirit seeking treatment for the problem; just don't forget to nurture what's good about your child!!
In general, most children and teens do not outgrow their ADHD, so medications may be helpful over the entire lifespan. However, depending on the specific type of ADHD (i.e., inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, or combined), interventions may need to be adjusted over time. Teens and adults are capable of developing cognitive strategies that were not possible for them as children, which may lead to successful management of their ADHD, and which may lessen or eliminate the need for medication.
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