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ADHD in Children Health Center

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When Someone Questions Your Child's ADHD

4. It's not ADHD; it's bad parenting.

Wrong again, says Salpekar. "Parents of kids with ADHD are often above-average limit setters, but for kids with ADHD, limits just don't stick." Salpekar says that the notion that ADHD results from bad parenting is an absurdity. "Are diabetes or brain tumors the result of bad parenting? No. So why then is ADHD?"

While being a parent is always a challenge, having a child with ADHD can be especially difficult, "and that burden can make it easy to derail into bad parenting," Steiner says. However, he adds, "Bad parenting does not generate attention difficulties. To imply that it does is silly."

5. ADHD is just an excuse for a child's bad behavior.

Many children with ADHD have behavior problems. "When kids have difficulty concentrating and acquiring academic material, they don't end up at the top of the class," Steiner says. "So, they develop other ways to make themselves special or different, such as by becoming the class clown."

Salpekar reminds parents and others that ADHD is rooted in the brain, and that some kids who have it "can't sit still."

6. What the child needs is discipline, exercise, a better diet, not drugs.

If you choose to engage when someone says this to you, you might think about replying that you're exploring everything that could help your child, including those things.

Wise and loving discipline, exercise, and a well-rounded diet are good for all children, including those with ADHD. But they may not be the whole answer.

"All those things are helpful, for any child, but they can't turn around ADHD, which occurs in the brain," Salpekar says.

He says that few, if any, of the parents he works with want their kids on medications; they would rather have a different solution. "They are just as judicious and conservative as we are," he says.

That said, there is some research showing that omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful for children with ADHD, along with (but not instead of) medication.

Discipline, along with proper treatment, is also key. "There's evidence that disciplining kids in a pro-social, proactive way can improve impulse control," Steiner says. "It's hard work, but it can work."

Salpekar discloses consulting for the Japanese pharmaceutical company, Shionogi, which makes ADHD drugs. Steiner reports no disclosures.

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Reviewed on November 16, 2012

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