A website visitor writes: My daughter is eight and has recently been diagnosed with ADD. The psychiatrist only wishes to medicate her. We are very concerned about her and want to do what is best for her and her future, but don’t believe that immediately medicating is the answer. Please help.
The concerns of this mother reflect the concerns of many mothers whose daughters are diagnosed with ADHD.
There are many things that can be done to help an elementary school aged girl with ADHD other than medication. Whether or not your daughter takes medication, many other structures and supports need to be put in place to help her function at her best.
- Develop a strong working relationship with her teacher. Communicate and problem-solve with her teacher regularly.
- Make sure that your daughters teacher is aware of the very different issues facing girls with ADHD. (Providing her with a copy of Understanding Girls with ADHD by Nadeau, Littman, & Quinn can provide her with information that she has probably never had access to before.)
- Talk with your daughters teacher about the concept of creating an ADD-friendly classroom that can help not only your daughter, but many other students as well.
- Listen to and support your daughter. Recognize that tears and arguments at home are often the sign of stress at school and in her peer group.
- Identify and work hard to support her gifts and interests so that she develops islands of competence to boost her self-esteem.
- Work with your school principal to carefully select next years teacher or teaching team, looking for teachers who are supportive, encouraging, and open to learning ways to help your daughter work up to her potential.
- Create special times at home on a daily basis a time to talk, enjoy one another, and to entirely avoid areas of conflict over homework, chores, or difficult behaviors.
- Balance criticism with praise.
- Support her in developing ways to become better organized and develop better homework, bedtime, and morning routines.
- Become sensitive to the social challenges that your daughter experiences and look for ways to help her improve self-awareness and social skills. (Raise Your Childs Social IQ by Cathi Cohen is an excellent book for parents who have concerns about their daughters social skills in elementary school.)
- Problem-solve at home in order to reduce and/or eliminate repetitive struggles and arguments.
Many girls with ADHD need extra tutoring/coaching that wont be provided in the school setting. Some girls may need the extra attention and support of a private school with smaller classes. When you have taken all of these steps and your daughter continues to feel stressed about her school and friendships, it may be time to consider medication as a supplement to these supports.