ADHD Parenting

"Your Shortest Path to a Respectful Child and a Peaceful Home…Period."

  • At least 3% of school children have ADHD, making this condition one of the most common disorders affecting our children. For nearly a century stimulant medications, such as Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, or Dexedrine, have been the most effective treatment for this disorder.

    Recently, a lot of concern has been expressed concerning the safety of these medications. Adderall XR was implicated in the death of 20 patients. This resulted in a ban on the use of this drug in Canada in 2005. In the same year the FDA linked 16 deaths to the use of Concerta. Ritalin has been implicated in 186 deaths between the years 1990 and 2000.

    These statistics have given birth to a number of concerned parent groups that want to stop the use of stimulant medications in ADHD children. A variety of natural medicine companies bolstered their cries, while incidentally offering their own natural treatment as an alternative.

    It is not surprising that all the noise has made many parents uneasy about using stimulants to treat ADHD in their children. Many parents fear that they are putting their child at risk by giving them these medications. ADHD is a very disturbing condition, but it is not fatal. It does not make sense to give your child something that endangers his life just to treat ADHD.

    Are parents who use medication to treat ADHD reckless? Before answering this question we need to examine the evidence.

    Ritalin Death Statistics

    As discussed previously, in the decade before the new millennium, 186 children died from taking Ritalin. That sounds like a large number of children, but is it?

    In 1990, 900,000 children received Ritalin. Currently, there are between four and five million children receiving this medication. If you estimate about 20 deaths a year from Ritalin, then the risk of your child dying from taking Ritalin is somewhere between 1 in 45,000 and 1 in 250,000. This means statistically, for every 45,000 children who take Ritalin 1 will die and 44,999 will survive. This does not mean that the children won’t have any of the other ill effects. It just means that death will not be one of them.

    Admittedly, this is not an exact calculation of the risk of death. To do that one needs to know the approximate number of children who took Ritalin between 1990 and 2000. This information is not available. However, whatever the exact risk is, it is very small.

    Contrast that to the death risk of using other common drugs. For example, acetaminophen, the active ingredient in drugs like Tylenol, has been implicated in 42% of all cases of acute liver failure. 7600 deaths are attributed to aspirin and similar drugs every year. The risk of dying from a single dose of penicillin is 1 in 50,000, the same as the risk of taking Ritalin over many years. These are drugs that we use everyday. They too have some risk. Yet there is not outcry to ban them.

    There is no attempt here to minimize or ignore the danger involved in giving our children stimulant medications. Even one child’s death is unacceptable if it can be prevented. However, when you consider the risk of giving your child Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, and similar medications, you need to realize there are many more dangerous medications that are being used in homes everyday.

    The Danger of Not Treating ADHD

    The risk of using medication is only one aspect of the equation. We need to consider what happens to ADHD children if they don’t receive medication. Very few people ever discuss this.

    In 1999, researcher examined how giving ADHD medication impacts the risk of future drug abuse. What these researchers discovered was that ADHD children who received medication for their ADHD were no more likely to get heavily involved with street drugs and alcohol than were children without ADHD. However, children with ADHD who did not receive medication were three times as likely to develop a serious drug or alcohol problem.

    So is there a danger in not using ADHD medications such as Ritalin, Concerta, or Adderall? Consider this. The three leading causes of death in teens and young adults are suicide, homicide, and accidents. Drug and alcohol abuse play a significant role in all of these.

    You also should consider all of the academic, social, and behavioral problems that accompany a child with untreated ADHD. More than that, if your child also has a co-existing disorder, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder, giving ADHD medication may be the most effect thing you can do to handle the problem. These other problems may not be fatal, but they can ruin the life and the future of your child.

    Certainly, a child who does not need medication should not take Ritalin, Concerta, or Adderall or anything else for that matter. However, if your child has ADHD and it is impairing his ability to function normally, then stimulant medication is still the best and quickest way to get the problem under control. This is not to say that it is the only approach. There are numerous effective non-medical treatments for ADHD. But you need to do something.

    If you are like most parents, you don’t like the idea of your child taking stimulant medication for ADHD. However, one thing that should not worry you is that you child will be the one child in 45,000 who has a fatal reaction to the medication. You should be far more worried about the risk of not treating your child.

    Please share this article.

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      Anthony Kane, MD
        P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

          If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

            Please go to:

          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

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        • continued from What to Do When Your Child is Stealing

          1-Stay Calm

          Don’t overreact. When a child steals it does not mean that he is a thief or is headed for a life of crime. It is really no different than any of mistake that your child makes.

          2-Do not Take it Personally

          Children steal to get attention. If your child is stealing from you and you take it as a personal attack you are reinforcing the reason the child stole.

          3-Do Not Accuse or Confront Your Child

          This point must be stressed. You must catch your child in the act so that the situation speaks for itself.

          You can never challenge your child with circumstantial evidence. Either the child will lie and you will reinforce his dishonesty or he will confess. If he tells the truth and you punish him, you will be teaching him that it pays to lie. Either way you are stuck. Circumstantial evidence won’t do.

          Hearing that your child stole from a third party won’t do. If your child denies it, then you are forced to believe your child. If you don’t, then you will show your child that you don’t trust him.

          Nothing encourages a child to be dishonest more that knowing that his parents don’t trust him. If the child confesses, you will not be able to punish him.

          Even if you are 99% sure your child is stealing that is not good enough to accuse him.

          For example, say that you look in your purse and the brand new $50 you took out from the bank yesterday is missing. You put your child’s laundry away and you find hidden among his things your brand new $50. You did not catch your child.

          Maybe someone else also lost a new $50 bill and he found it. Maybe your $50 fell out of your purse and your child found it on the street. Unless you see your child reach into your purse and take out the $50 you did not see him steal.

          4-Make Sure that Your Child Knows What He Did is Wrong

          This is particularly true of a younger child.

          What to Do When You Catch Your Child

          Don’t ask the child for explanations. Merely state that he is not allowed to take things from other people. Do not sermonize. Just use simple explanations.

          “Stealing is wrong. You would not want anyone to take your toy. So it’s wrong for you to take this toy.”

          Never imply that your child is bad. Stealing is bad, not the child. Do not call your child a thief, dishonest, or a liar or any other name that you do not want him to become. When you give your child a label, he will grow to fill that label.

          Correcting the Wrong

          If Your Child Stole From Someone Outside the Family

          Your child must make restitution. If your child stole from a store or from a neighbor, then see that he returns the object. Have your child apologize and say he or she will never do it again. You should accompany your child to make it easier for him to correct the damage.

          If Your Child Stole Money from You

          Estimate what child took and make it clear that the child must pay you back. He may do this by helping around the house for money. You should pay him enough that he pays off his debt in about a month. Say to him that you realize he needs more money and give him an allowance or increase in allowance.

          Hide Temptation

          Don’t leave money around where the child can find it. Tell his siblings that you are going to watch their money for a while. Don’t tell them why. Don’t send this child to the store to buy something with a large bill where there will be a lot of change.

          Putting the Incident into the Past

          Figure Out Why Your Child Stole

          If he needs more attention make a special effort to give it too him. If he needs to feel more control over his life, give him an increase in allowance and more freedom to spend it as he wishes. If he needs certain things to be part of his peer group, make sure that he gets them.

          Continue to Trust Your Child

          If your child is stealing it does not mean he is bad or he is a thief. You don’t want your reaction to make him become that way. Your child will fulfill your expectations of him. If you view him as a thief, bad, or dishonest he will grow into that label.

          Be a Model of Honesty

          Children learn by watching their parents. You should show concern about the property rights of others. A parent who brings office supplies home or boasts about a mistake at the supermarket checkout counter, teaches his child that honesty is not important.


          Stealing is a common problem. You should view it like any other mistake your child makes. It is something that has to be corrected, but it is not more than that. If you handle it properly, you can correct this problem quickly and easily.

          Please share this article.

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            Anthony Kane, MD
              P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

                If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

                  Please go to:

                  How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

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                • Introduction: My Child, the Thief

                  One of the more common problems that we as parents encounter, but that nobody likes to talk about, is what to do when your child steals. There are a number of different reasons a child steals and a number of different ways to handle the problem.

                  Young children do not steal. Children below the age of four or five do not have a concept of ownership. They do not understand that it is wrong to take things that belong to others.

                  By the time a child enters elementary school, he should know that stealing is wrong. Often children at this age take things because they lack self-control.

                  A preteen or teen may steal for the thrill of it or because that is what friends are doing. He may be trying to gain a feeling of control over his life or to fill an emotional void.

                  Whatever the reason a child is stealing, the parents need to approach the problem with wisdom. If the parents just react according to their natural inclination, their response will almost certainly be wrong and destructive.

                  Why a Child Steals

                    1-Your Child Can’t Control Himself

                  Younger children have difficulty with self-control. A child may take something although he knows that stealing is wrong simply because he can’t help himself. You have to give your child the ability to get what he wants in an honest way. Also, you must try to minimize the temptation.

                    2-Your Child’s Basic Needs are Not Being Met

                  Children are completely dependent on their parents for all of their needs. A child who feels that his needs are not being met will eventually take the matter into his own hands. The easiest way for a child to do this is to take what he needs.

                  What a person needs is subjective. Even though a parent may not feel that a child should have something, it might be a real need for the child. For example, if the child’s school friends have pocket money, then your child could have a need for pocket money. He will feel a lack if he doesn’t have it, even if you provide him with everything that he wants. This type of child may be tempted to steal money just so he has money like everybody else.

                    3-Your Child Needs More Attention

                  Get ADHD and ODD
                  Teen Behavior Help

                  for children 12 and older
                  Probably the most common reason that children steal is that they feel an emotional lack in their lives. A child who does not have his emotional needs met, feels empty inside. He may take things in an attempt to fill the void. Often children who steal are lonely or having trouble in school or with friends. They lack the tools or the opportunity to express their feelings.

                  Many children do not get the attention they need. Such a child may feel unloved or that the parents are not interested in him.

                  This may or may not be true. As I explain in How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior, how your child perceives your attention is more important than the amount of attention that you give. These children may translate their emotional needs into material desires. Stealing is their way for these children to express their discontent and to seek gratification.

                    4-Your Child Needs to Have Control Over His Life

                  Children are acutely aware of their vulnerability. They lack control over their lives. Some children have difficulty with this. If the child has trouble feeling dependent, he may steal to gain a sense of control or to rebel.

                    5-Peer Pressure

                  Older children are pulled after what their friends do. If the child is with a group of children that feel stealing is exciting, the child may steal to be part of the group. Sometimes, a child may steal to show bravery to friends. If your child has fallen into a group of bad friends there are some very concrete things you can do to address the problem.

                  In part two we will discuss what to do when you suspect your child is stealing.

                  Please share this article.

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                    Anthony Kane, MD
                      P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

                        If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child's difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

                          Please go to:

                          How to Improve Your Child's Behavior

                          1 Comment
                        • Some children are just stubborn. Some are argumentative. Some are hard to get along with and don’t like to be told what to do.

                          These are characteristics of normal children. What separates children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder from normal children is not so much what they do, but to the degree that they do it.

                          It is normal for children to have occasional bouts of difficult behavior. This is especially true of children who are in developmental stages of ages of transition; such as between the ages three to five or during adolescence. During these periods, children try to assert themselves and can become very defiant.

                          In addition, normal children who are tired, hungry or disturbed about something often react by being defiant.

                          Normal children can be defiant, but their behavior does not disrupt their life. It is not like that with Oppositional Defiant Disorder children.

                          ODD children are difficult and argumentative to the extent that their behavior interferes with their school performance, their ability to get along in school, and sometimes, their relationships with other children.

                          ODD is characterized by aggressiveness and hostility toward others, particularly parents, teachers, and other figures of authority. These children willfully try to bother and irritate others. They tend to be argumentative and to get into fights a lot. They are also easily annoyed and refuse to take responsibility for the things that they do.

                          Because their behavior is so difficult, ODD children have a lot of trouble getting along with family and friends, and tend to have a lot of difficulty in school.

                          Parents of ODD children often claim that even when they were very young, their children were inflexible and demanding.

                          What is like to have an Oppositional Defiant Disorder child or teen?

                          Oppositional Defiant Disorder children are experts at manipulating others. These children and teenagers cause a lot of discord. These children are masters of putting adults against each other, including spouse against spouse and parents against teachers. They can cause a lot of chaos at home and unless the parents are on alert, ODD children can strain or even destroy a marriage.

                          Children with ODD are stubborn and repeatedly test limits, even as young children. They are easily annoyed and blame others for their mistakes. Their behavior can get them into a lot of trouble. However, they refuse to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. Rather they identify these outcomes as someone else’s problem.

                          Teenagers with Oppositional Defiant Disorder are constantly angry. They lose their temper and fight with adults. They talk back, argue, and refuse to follow even simple directions; often for no apparent reason.

                          These teenagers are irresponsible. They blame others for that bad things that happen as a result of their behavior.

                          Oppositional Defiant Disorder is not characterized so much by the type of behavior that these children and teens display, but by the degree and frequency they display these behaviors.

                          ODD children are not that different from normal but difficult children. Both normal difficult children and ODD children act out the same way by doing the same things. The difference is the frequency and intensity that they do it.

                          The following is a list of the behaviors that Oppositional Defiant Disorder children and teens frequently display:

                            * Get angry frequently
                            * Talk back to adults
                            * Openly disobey instructions
                            * Thwart rules
                            * Intentionally bother others
                            * Refuse to take responsibility for their actions
                            * Refuse to take responsibility for their misbehavior
                            * Are quick to take offense and get annoyed easily
                            * Are quick to anger
                            * Tend to be resentful, cruel, or malicious
                            * Speak harshly
                            * Seek revenge
                            * Have temper tantrums often

                          Having an ODD child or teenager makes parenting very difficult. (Ask me how I know this.) However, with the right approach you can succeed and even survive. But you will need to learn what to do.

                          Parent training programs are still the most effective means of dealing with ODD in children and teens. These programs are available in many areas and online. You should definitely consider this option if you have such a child or teenager.

                          Please share this article.

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                            Anthony Kane, MD

                              P S Please leave a comment because I would really like to get your reaction to this.

                                If you would like to have a quick step-by-step plan on how to end your child’s difficult behavior forever and your child is between the ages of 2 and 11:

                                  Please go to:

                                  How to Improve Your Child’s Behavior

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                                • Medical Treatment of Oppositional Defiant Disorder

                                  The research of the value of medical treatment of ODD is still in the preliminary stages. However, the results, so far, suggest that medication may have some benefit when other
                                  disorders are present, also.

                                  In one study, researchers looked at the effectiveness of using Ritalin to treat children who had both ADHD and ODD. They found that by the end of the study 90% of the children who received Ritalin no longer had Oppositional Defiant Disorder.

                                  This was not a well run study because the researchers did not include in their results those children who were too defiant to comply with the treatment program. However, even if these children were included in the results and listed as treatment failures, the rate of success using Ritalin was 75%. A highlight of this study is that the researchers found that even when the ADHD was not severe enough to warrant the use of Ritalin, giving the medication did help with the ODD.

                                  The effectiveness of Strattera has been studied in children with both ADHD and ODD. The results are mixed. Some studies show that Strattera makes a difference in ODD, some show that it doesn’t.

                                  Both Omega-3 oils and vitamin E were tested in ODD children. Both seemed to help with the behavior to some degree.

                                  Psychological Intervention

                                  The primary way of treating Oppositional Defiant Disorder is through parent management training. The younger your child is when you enroll in such a program, the better the outcome. If you want to help your child; some form of parent training program is essential. See the recommended resources below.

                                  These programs can be quite expensive, costing $100 or more per week for a period of several months to half a year. Insurance usually will not pay for such programs.

                                  Advice to Parents

                                  There is far too little known about this extremely common childhood behavior disorder.

                                  The most effective approach to treating ODD is:

                                  1. Get a thorough medical and psychological evaluation:
                                  The key to helping an ODD child is to first know exactly what his problems are.

                                  2. Treat any other co-existing condition aggressively:
                                  Whether your child has some other medical condition, such as ADHD, a physical problem such as a Sensory Deficit Disorder or a Learning Disorder; taking care of his other problems is the key to successfully alleviating much of your child’s oppositional behavior.

                                  3. Consider giving your child an Omega-3 supplement and a vitamin E supplement:
                                  Most children are deficient in these nutrients and there are no ill effects if your child gets more than he needs. Even if it does not help with the ODD, your child will in all likelihood be much healthier if he receives these supplements.


                                  Raising a child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is hard. However, it can be done.

                                  If you identify your child’s other problems and treat them; AND if you develop your parenting skills through a specialized parenting program you will be successful.

                                  Please share this article.

                                  Related Posts

                                  10 Ways to Have More Responsible Children

                                  Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Getting Cooperation
                                  When Your Child or Teen Steals

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                                  Oppositional Defiant Disorder Treatment
                                  Treating ADHD and Reading Disorders

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