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ADHD in Children Health Center

More Than One Prescription? Tips for Parents

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Overcoming Side Effects

The most common side effects associated with ADHD medicines have to do with eating and sleep. Long-acting stimulants, in particular, may hamper their appetite.

"To overcome this, try to get calories in kids before school, after school, at dinner, and with a nighttime snack," Strauss says. "Feed your child a hearty breakfast in the morning and high-calorie snacks such as ice cream and milkshakes in the afternoon."

Another option is to try a short-acting stimulant, which lasts about 3-4 hours, instead of a long-acting stimulant. Once the medicine wears off, you may be able to get your child to eat.

If your child develops sleep problems while taking medication, your doctor may recommend lowering the dose or switching the time of day that your child takes their medicine.

For example, some parents find it works well to give their child a long-acting stimulant earlier in the morning. (Wake them up, give them the medicine, and then let them go back to sleep for an hour.) By the time it's bedtime, the medicine is out of their system and it may be easier for them to fall asleep.

Of course, it's also important for your child to have good sleep habits, such as sticking to a regular bedtime and not watching TV or using computers or phones in the bedroom.

If Your Child Doesn't Want to Take the Medication

Many kids don't like the way medications make them feel, so they don't want to take them even if it is helping them.

Listen to their concerns. Tell them that you understand. Point out the differences you see, such as if they're doing better in school, at home, and with their relationships.

If they still don't want to take the medicine, talk to your child's doctor about adjusting or changing the medicine. There are now many different formulations of medication available to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Depending on the issue your child is having, he can be switched to a skin patch, sprinkles, or a liquid form of these medications rather than a pill.

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Reviewed on April 29, 2013

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