Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Drugging Your Kids

Watching my Mom's health decline rapidly gave me a different perspective than most of the world.

In a world where you can get a pill for absolutely everything, I seldom take medication.

No restless leg syndrome, sleep disorders, mild or severe depression or any of that for me.

I'm a firm believer that Newton's law applies to medication as well -- that for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction.

I saw this in my Mom. By the time she passed away on July 21, 2007, there was no way we could keep up with the medications -- many of which she had taken for years. Hyperparathyroidism, kidney failure, breast cancer, severe anemia, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and all the rest -- each illness was accompanied by a set of pills.

Unfortunately, all those prescriptions were anything but harmonious. The steroids used shrink her tumor caused diabetes. Anytime anything was changed or she had surgery, her kidney function decreased. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What we're doing to our children is what really worries me. The number of kids on "behavior modification" drugs is alarming. In many, many instances, the behavior that needs to be modified is that of their parents. But hey, it's easier to drug your kid than it is to give clear and consistent correction at home.

I had a conversation here while back -- a friend of mine made the remark that because her son was too talkative in class, she was going to have to get him some new drugs. No. No. No. No. No. No.

I have no idea where to begin a discussion with that Mom, but I've spent some time with that kid -- not a ton but a fair amount. And while I'm no expert, I'm thinking a few thoughts..... For one, he's far smarter than I am. His reading level is high, he's on the ball with the answers, and he's like a bulldog when he's inspired by something -- just won't let it go. For another, he says he plays video games. A Lot. A Whole Lot. Morning, afternoon, evening.

Now... I'm not in their house, and I don't know what things are like. But I do know that even if that picture doesn't fit this little friend exactly, there are plenty of kids it would.

And here's what I'm thinking..... Maybe those kids don't need drugs at all. Maybe they need more activity and to ditch the Wii. And maybe being more challenged in school would help their classroom behavior. Maybe they're way ahead of the rest of the class and bored. And while you're at it, putting the fear of God into kids like this wouldn't hurt.

We did that with both our kids. The VERY FIRST time either of them reported getting in trouble in school, we came down HARD. On very minor offenses. And you know what? We seldom have issues with their behavior at school.

Now that a couple of my friends are breathing fire out their noses and ready to call me on the phone, I'm going to issue a disclaimer.

Yes, I know there are exceptions to this Utopian idea of childcare without drugs. Yes, I know that some of your children, or you yourselves for that matter, could not function without them.

I just think it's time to take a hard look at which children really need drugs because of personality / emotional issues. And then look at how many of them are being drugged unnecessarily because the parents are too lazy or irresponsible to actually PARENT those children they gave birth to.

I think it's time to take a good, hard look at the long-term issues these drugs pose. To look at the interactions and potential side-effects they are going to cause down the road. A little peace and quiet now isn't nearly worth the cost of your child or grandchild having cancer or other medical issues down the road.

I also think it's very important to look at their adaptability in the long term. Is your child going to be taking Ritalin when he or she is 50? Wouldn't it make more sense to teach them how to handle their issues? If you don't teach them that now, when are you going to?


JSue said...

WOW, girl!! You just jumped right out there, huh?

I have some thoughts on this as well, that I won't be sharing.

I can say that I was quite an "energetic" child. How did my Mom deal with it? She sent me outside. I ran, I climbed, I biked, I swung (is that the right word?) I sang at the top of my lungs...and so on. Without drugs. How did the school deal with it? They placed me in more challenging classes. Without drugs.

I see the same traits in my own children. How do I deal with it? We play hard! We play outside, we run, we scream, we throw balls and we jump on the trampoline. But, we also have a required quiet time. I don't make the girls sleep, but they must be still and quiet. Read books or watch a movie - I don't mind, but I want them to learn to be calm. Without drugs - because THAT is what works for my children.

adb76 said...

Well said!

Kayren said...

what I am thinking is that the no child left behind has dummied down our school settings so much that the smart ones are getting in trouble for talking/goofing off and while there are children who are in need of meds many are in need of touch therapy and attention! Thanks for you candidness!