How Do I Manage Medication Side Effects?

Medication Musts for Kindergartners

Is medication is part of your kindergartener’s ADHD treatment? Then follow these tips to create a good plan for meds at school.

Kindergartener's Medication shouldn't bring your ADHD child to snail-speed
Kindergartener's Medication shouldn't bring your ADHD child to snail-speed

Explain. If your child is just starting on medication, explain what it’s for: “It will help you calm down…it will help you pay attention.” Emphasize that it’s not a magic pill, however — he must work hard to follow the rules and make good choices.

Work with your doctor. Your child should be on meds if ADHD symptoms interfere with her success in life. She may need coverage during school hours and beyond, to help her deal with homework, after-school activities, or social relationships. Your child’s physician should talk with you and the school to get feedback on how the treatment plan is working.

Visit your child’s doctor in August, before school begins, to discuss any medication side effects and any changes in dosages that may be needed. A National Institute of Mental Health/MTA study shows that most children’s dosages are too low.

Establish reminders. Many children have a hard time remembering to go to the nurse’s office at the designated time to take medication. Here are some good prompts: private signals from the teacher to the student; a beeper watch or watch alarm for the student; “coded” verbal reminders over the intercom.

Keep tabs on how long the medication works. A “four-hour” pill may last three or five hours; 12-hour meds can last from 10 to 14. A combination of short- and long-acting stimulants can cover the full day.

Feedback from teachers is vital to success. The teacher is an integral part of the therapeutic team because of his or her unique ability to observe the child’s performance and functioning – academically, socially, behaviorally. You or your doctor should make sure the teacher has a Medication Rating Scale to fill out.

SHARI GHENT, M.S., education specialist, serves with the Diagnostic Center, Northern California, in the California Department of Education. Shari taught for 18 years in public schools in Oregon and California and parents a college student with ADHD.