ADD? Ritalin is not a wonder drug!
Do you have a child that suffers from ADD or ADHD?
Do you think that prescribing your child Ritalin will make everything work out?
If the answer is yes, you are sadly, sorely mistaken.
Yes, medical treatments can answer problems created by a neurological chemical imbalance that is present in children with ADD/ADHD. But the behaviors that they exhibit are also largely connected to the interactions that they have started experiencing between their parents and themselves, and the types of attention they are garnering.
Hila Adany begs: "Please acknowledge the behavioral aspect of ADD/ADHD as well".
"We tried everything: eventually, we took our son for testing, and the final diagnosis was that our son is suffering from ADD. So we started him on medication, but besides for his teacher's reports that there is a slight improvement in his performance at school, at home we have seen no change at all".
These were the first words I heard from Neta and Dvir, a wonderful couple. Loving parents, who are engaging in the battle against their son's ADD, and feel that they are losing. "His behavior is intolerable. The outbursts, the constant refusals... We don't know what to do".
Unfortunately, they are not the only parents to experience this problem.
When a child is diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, and the disorder makes it difficult for you, and others, to cope with his/her negative behavior, it is essential that the child receives behavioral treatment along with medical treatment.
Often, the medication corrects the chemical imbalance that is affecting the child - that is, it answers the neurological issue - but does not 'fix' the daily interactions between a parent and child.
Of course, it is likely that the child's difficult behavior began with this chemical imbalance. But, it is strengthened and bolstered through everyday interactions, over time.
For example: If parents respond with giving in to, or bargaining with a child who is being immensely uncooperative, the child is not likely to change. Rather, this simply serves to reinforce his/her contrary behavior.
This is due to the fact that the child begins to subconsciously understand that that being stubborn, explosive or rude, often results in getting his/her own way.
Further, responding to negative behavior with coaxing, explanations and/or bartering, may get parents some short term peace and quiet, but in the long run, it does not decrease behavioral difficulties. On the contrary, things usually start to deteriorate more.
If the situation is indeed worsening, this is an indication that the child is somewhat 'enjoying' the attention - and thus has no need to change any behaviors. (And yes, reprimands constitute attention. Negative attention is still attention.)
No Miracle Cures
This is where behavioral treatment comes in.
This form of therapy assesses the function, or power, of adverse behavior during the daily communication between a parent and child.
In simpler terms, it assesses 'what causes my child to behave the way he/she is behaving, and what is he/she gaining by behaving in this way?'.
Once the reasons behind the child's behavior have been brought to light, it is possible to adjust the details of behavioral therapy to suit the specific issues that each family is dealing with.
With regard to ADD/ADHD, behavioral therapy looks at the entire day as a whole, as well as all the individual daily occurrences within the family unit.
This is an essential aspect of this therapy because human behavior can not be accurately assessed through analyzing separate instances that occur during a day. Rather, it is only through all of those instances as a whole that an authentic picture can emerge. That is, each interaction that takes place affects the one after it, and all subsequent interactions.
After the 'behavioral process' that we experienced together, Neta and Dvir understand that Ritalin is not a panacea that will remedy any and all behavioral crises.
In order to help a child combat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD, a fundamental change needs to occur within parents, as well as in their methods of parenting. Although these changes require massive effort, the astonishing results they yield are well worth the effort. Parenting in the way that your child needs you to ultimately helps the family, as a whole, adopt a more enjoyable, relaxing life.