Don’t drug me, dad!

Children are normally a blessing. They’re so happy and full of life. They speak their mind freely and act silly. They have their unique personalities and they can be super cute or super mean and we’ll still love them. Right? Right! But sometimes they go overboard and we can’t explain why. Some kids are overly happy and act out too much, some speak their mind too frequently, some personalities go beyond unique and are actually odd, some are way past cute or mean and end up being too petty or cruel. What should we do when we believe our kids may have a real psychological issue? Where’s that fine line the defines acceptable or deviant behavior?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how my all time favorite comic strip: Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. The blond little boy who can’t stay still for five minutes, who has conversations and adventures with his stuffed tiger, who’s the teacher’s nightmare in class and who drives his parents to exhaustion. He’s the epiphany of what would be classified here in the USA as your typical ADHD kid.

Every parent dreams of having the perfect child. Healthy, happy, smart, social, well-behaved. But kids come in different packages and some packages are more unique than others that’s for sure.

One of my soccer buddies, Chris, was telling me yesterday about his little daughter’s behavior. According to him she has some social issues that need to be worked on. He enrolled her in a Montessori school to help her develop her socialization, interaction and overall psychological self-construction. What’s interesting in this case is that Chris has two kids and in the eyes of society as a whole his daughter would be the “normal” one. Chris’s son was born with down syndrome.

I absolutely believe Chris is an amazing dad and the decision of putting Hannah in a school that will give her better tools to develop her personality in positive way is the result of a well thought and mature decision. But not all parents choose or have the option to go that way.

About ten years ago I was working at a summer camp at the YMCA in Houston, Texas and I saw a 6 year-old little boy almost completely destroy my supervisor’s office because after acting out for the 10th time that day he was send there for a little one-on-one chat with her. Apparently the conversation wasn’t going well and she told him she was going to call his parents. That’s when the child lost it and went on a rage rampage kicking, screaming, throwing around everything he could get his hands on.

The next day he came back to camp looking like a zombie. His eyes had no glare, his body was limp. I asked my supervisor and she told me that his parents took him to the doctor and his ritalin dosage was increased.

Wow, I thought. A medication that turns hyperactive kids into zombies.Later I found out about cases in which kids died as a result of years of use of ritalin.

I immediately went back in time and thought of all my mischievous behavior in school. My temper tantrums, my fights, my back talking… Hmmm… Did ritalin exist in the 80’s? If so I’m really glad my parents went a different way to deal with terrible behavior.  I would hate to look back and think of myself as a zombie kid.

Anyway, parents will very often do things they believe to be the best for their children. They’ll do whatever they think will provide their kids with a better chance to succeed in the future.  I just really hope they do a very throughout assessment of their child’s conditions before deciding on what method will be the best.

Some medication might even help your kids concentrate better and reduce their hyperactive and fix their “odd” behavior but the side effects can be disastrous. Goodbye spontaneity, goodbye imagination, goodbye happiness. Just imagine Calvin on ritalin and you’ll see what I mean.

Spending more time with your child and trying to see the world through his point of view might be more effective than medication and most of cases. Some therapy may be necessary. But please do everything, I mean, everything you possibly can to avoid the zombie-making drugs. Your child will thank you later.

Have a great weekend,

~Gil

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Posted on August 12, 2011, in Parenting and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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