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Responsible for Taking Medication
"My 12-year-old has been taking ADHD medication for five years. Is he old enough to take the pills on his own?"
Generally, by the time children reach middle school, their parents should start teaching them to take medication on their own. By high school, children should be taking their medication without prompting or monitoring.
If you feel that your child has a good idea of how the medication works, why he takes it, and is comfortable with taking it, you can gradually shift the responsibility to him. Let him know that you'll monitor his progress. Begin by leaving the medication out—on the breakfast table, for example—then watch to make sure he takes it. During this transition period, consider asking parents to help discreetly at sleepovers.
Larry Silver, M.D., is clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and director of training in child and adolescent psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine. He is a former acting director and deputy director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as well as the author of Dr. Larry Silver's Advice to Parents on AD/HD and The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child's Learning Disabilities.