Expert advice on the pros and cons of medication for challenging kids

Watch Video: Expert advice on the pros and cons of medication for challenging kids by Ross W. Greene, PhD, ...
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Expert advice on the pros and cons of medication for challenging kids

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A lot of parents wonder if there are medications that would be helpful for their child. And I have to say, I'm very conservative about medicating kids. Because I think we've overdone it in the medication department in the US in particular. But we don't want to deprive the child of medication that would be helpful to him or her if there are medications that can help. Here's the most important thing about medications. We've got to make sure we're clear on what things medicine does well and what things medicine does not do well, because the last thing we want to do is put a kid on medication for something medication doesn't do well. There are a few things medication does well. Medication treats hyperactivity and poor impulse control well. Medication can improve attention span well. Medication in kids can in many cases but not all enhance mood well and reduce obssessiveness pretty well. Medication can sometimes help anxious kids be less anxious and there are medications that can help a kid have a longer fuse and give a kid an emotional muffler. There are some kids that are just so volatile, so reactive that they need an emotional muffler. They need a longer fuse. But there it is. There's the list of things that medication does well. So if a child is presenting with difficulties that fall outside of those realms, I am unlikely to think that that child is going to be a good candidate for medication because he's presenting with difficulties that we wouldn't expect medication to address. Seldom do I think that medication alone is going to be a sufficient treatment. I think that there's other things that we need to be doing that medication isn't doing for us, especially in the kids that are very volatile and very out of control. Those kids are often going to need much more than what medication alone will provide. Having said that, there are some kids, some, who once they are on a medication that reduces their hyperactivity, improves their impulse control, and improves their attention span, we sometimes find they don't really need a whole lot more from us. We've given them what they need. I guess the trick with every kid, whether it's medication or non-medical treatment, is to make sure that the kid's difficulties are well understood, to make sure that we are applying the treatments that are best for the difficulties that child is presenting, and quite frankly to make sure that every kid gets what he needs.

Watch Video: Expert advice on the pros and cons of medication for challenging kids by Ross W. Greene, PhD, ...

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Ross W. Greene, PhD

Psychologist, Author & Researcher

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is the author of the well-known books The Explosive Child and Lost at School, and the originator of a model of care (now known as Collaborative & Proactive Solutions) emphasizing collaboration between kids and adults in resolving the problems contributing to children’s behavioral challenges.  He is also associate clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, on the professional staff at the Cambridge Hospital, adjunct associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech, and senior lecturer in the graduate program in school psychology in the Department of Education at Tufts University.  Dr. Greene founded the non-profit Lives in the Balance to provide free, web-based resources on his model and to advocate on behalf of behaviorally challenging kids and their parents, teachers, and other caregivers.  He lectures widely throughout the world and lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife and two kids.

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