How can I find the right ADHD medicine for my child?

How can I find the right ADHD medicine for my child?

There are many different medications to treat ADHD, and finding the exact formula and dosage for your child can take some detective work.  Your doctor may prescribe your child a low dose of a medicine, then raise it little by little until your child gets the greatest benefit with the fewest side effects. This is called titration.


How long does ADHD medication titration take?

 It can take several weeks. And don’t be discouraged if the first medicine your child takes isn't the right fit.

It’s not unusual for a doctor to have to titrate two or three different types of medicine before finding the best match.


What side effects are linked to ADHD medication?

Most of the side effects from these medications last for a short time as your child adjusts to the drug.  Common side effects include sleeping problems, appetite loss, and not feeling as social. These often go away after a few weeks, so your doctor may encourage you to wait it out and see if they get better on their own. If they don’t, your doctor can adjust the dosage or change the medication.  Less common but more serious side effects can include hallucinations, tics, and depression. These need to be addressed with the doctor right away.


When is the best time to start an ADHD medication in your child?

You may want to start during the weekend or over a school break so you can keep a close eye on your child for the first few days. You can also use this time to figure out the best time to take the medicine.  For example, a younger child may need to take the medicine in the morning to focus throughout the school day, and a teen may need a stronger dose later in the afternoon to get through homework or to focus while driving home.

Needs Can Change

What works at first may not continue to over time. Watch your child for symptoms and side effects as he grows and his schedule and lifestyle change. Check in with the doctor every 3 months or so to make sure your child is still on the right treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on August 24, 2020



Mark Stein, PhD, director of the ADHD and Related Disorders Program at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and American Psychiatric Association, “ADHD Parents Medication Guide.”

American Academy of Pediatrics, “Common ADHD Medications & Treatments for Children.”

National Resource Center on ADHD, “Managing Medication.”

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