Q. Will ADHD medication change my child’s personality?
A. No, this is a common misconception. When prescribed effectively, medications won’t change your child’s personality. But your child’s ability to focus and self-regulate will improve.
When this happens, your child may find it easier to learn and also to manage social situations. These positive changes can help your child build confidence and positive self-esteem.
There are many medications for ADHD on the market. It may take a while for a health care provider to find the optimal type and dose for your child. If your child starts taking medication and you notice any changes in behavior, speak up.
What if you’re not satisfied with the way the health care provider responds to your concerns? Getting a second opinion might be the next step.
Once you find the right medication and dosage, keep monitoring your child’s behavior. Side effects are usually detected early in the treatment process. But they can happen later, too.
What if you notice changes in mood — like irritability, anxiety, or aggression? Or maybe your child’s emotions seem “off”? Tell your child’s health care provider right away. Fortunately, this may only mean changing the dose or the type of medication.
Common side effects include decreased appetite, difficulty sleeping, headache, or temporary motor tics. In rare cases, side effects of ADHD medication can include rapid heart rate, hypertension, or more serious cardiovascular events. Your child’s health care provider can help you deal with these issues.
It’s important to have regular checkups with a health care provider who has experience prescribing these types of medications. This is true whether your child just started taking medication or has been using the same one for a while. Kids grow and their metabolism can change. Some health care providers recommend checkups several times a year — or even once a month.
Lastly, remember that medication isn’t a cure-all. It’s often part of the treatment for ADHD. Parent training and behavior therapy are also important. You can try strategies like reducing distractions during homework time. And you can encourage your child to eat a balanced diet and to get plenty of sleep and exercise.
About the author
About the author
Laura Tagliareni, PhD is a pediatric neuropsychologist in New York City and a clinical instructor at NYU Langone Medical Center.