Wednesday, April 3, 2013

When is it time to think about medicating a kid?

I have 2 children. Both are silly, sweet, smart, mature kids - but my son has always been a handful.

My son was the kid who taught me why the child harness was invented, after he twisted away from me and darted out into traffic - twice. After he jumped out of his stroller and disappeared while I was standing next to him buying a shirt at Sears. After he ran ahead of us, rounded a corner, and was gone before we could catch up - only to be spotted a few frantic minutes later being led down the escalator by a stranger who was "taking him to security".

Impulse control is not his strong suit.

But lately, as he has gotten older, there has been a certain expectation of age-appropriate behavior that he is not reaching. At least, not according to some people.

But how do I know? How do I know whether my child - a child who, like every child is unlike anyone else - is struggling more than any other pre-teen in the early throes of adolescence? According to the other mothers I speak to, kids this age are some combination of defiant, impulsive, angry, emotional, confused, combative, aggressive, withdrawn, sad, scared and lonely. They struggle to follow directions, to pay attention, to stay awake, to remember their manners, to complete tasks. All of them. Each child is different, but they are the same in that they all appear to be struggling as their bodies and minds are both racing.

Is there some universal sign, some checklist to figure out if my kid needs medication? How will I know? And what if the medication crushes his spirit, instead of just calming his mind?

Buying a harness when he was 18 months old was hard for me to do, but it ended up being a last resort that I felt I needed to explore. I was embarrassed and uncomfortable - but I was also desperate to keep him safe. And so I reluctantly put it in my shopping cart, among the organic produce and free range eggs. Irony.

I knew the harness wouldn't change him - but it might help him to learn boundaries. Strapping it on a 12 year old won't work, unfortunately - and the boundaries are far less obvious than mere physical safety. But strangely enough, his physical safety and behavior in public is what prompted me to make a doctor's appointment for my son, to have him assessed. A few days ago, he ran into the drugstore to return a DVD. When he came out, he almost darted into traffic - but then he stopped just short of the crosswalk, remembering to look first. And when the oncoming car stopped and waved him across, he waved back, and dashed across the street.

Without looking the other way.

He stopped - thank goodness - in the middle of the road, and waited for the other car (who was not planning on stopping for my child even though they were approaching a stop sign and going over a speed bump).

But he came very, very close to being hit.

I sat in the car, screaming "NO! as I watched the car approach, and then pass him by. As he crossed the rest of the street and climbed in my car he was already apologizing. "I looked ONE way, mom." he said sheepishly.

But in life, you have to look both ways.

So while I still hope that this is just another phase, that his behavior is normal and par for the pre-teen course, I am going to look both ways as well. I am going to talk to the doctor, and ask them for their professional opinion. Whether I take their advice or not remains to be seen.

This is another post for Yeah, Write's 500 words or less series. Working within that limitation is a good exercise - you should submit your own writing! It's open to writers who blog, and bloggers who write. Tell them Daffodil sent you xo


Rebecca said...

When? When it feels right to you and his doctor. No matter what anyone else says. You can always stop the medication if it doesn't work.

My friend recently went through this with her 12-year-old. At the advice of a homeopathic expert, she gave him Vitamin D supplements, and that helped a lot.

Do what's right for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I think Rebecca's right. If this is a doctor you trust, then ask for all the options-medical or otherwise.
I have a runner, too, so I understand your concerns.

Joe said...

The decision to medicate is a difficult one. The good news is that the decision to medicate is not permanent. If it doesn't make things better, it is easy to terminate. said...

so true - in life you have to look both ways. i feel your struggle. :(

Cindy ~ The Reedster Speaks said...

Going through the Exact. Same. Thing. Hard to be a mama sometime.

Stacie said...

I agree with what was already said - it's up to you and your doctor. That must be so scary, I'm sorry you have to worry so much!

Tomekha said...

I don't know much about child rearing but I say, follow and TRUST your instincts. You will know which is the right decision.

Ericamos said...

I think you're doing the right thing by looking both ways and talking to a doctor. It's better to hear all the options before making a decision. No matter what decision you make, it'll be the right one.

Kirsten Oliphant said...

This is so hard. I have no answers, but often wonder how I'll know things like this as well. Love the way you made the look-both-ways analogy. Sorry that you are in this place and hope you can find answers you feel confident in.

Doina Dubitsky said...

Your son is an amazing person. I am sure whatever you decide will work out fine.

Or you can just stick to living in tourist towns where cars are always on the lookout for random crossers.

IASoupMama said...

Oh, golly... I'd have had a heart attack watching that! I hope that you get it figured out before he scares the poo out of you again.

Anonymous said...

This is why i am so scared to be a parent. Way too many scary decisions to make now! Wishing you good thoughts!

kel said...

We fought medication for a long time. I didn't want to do something to chemically alter my kid's brain to make MY life easier. When he was little, it wasn't a huge deal- his lack of impulse control, his quirky behavior. As he got older the difference between him and his peers was more marked, like you there were a couple of situations that felt dangerous. But we still felt like a little more effort on our part, we could teach him the skills he needed.

Then he experienced a fairly traumatic event and it all went to hell.

Long story short: he's medicated. He needs it. His day-to-day interactions are infinitely more positive than they are without medication. He's no longer regarded as the Weird Kid at school.

I'm not pro-medication. If we could help him without it, we would. He does therapy, sees a psychiatrist, goes to a social skills group, avoid a host of foods (which helps a LOT. we were able to cut his ADHD med dose in half once we began altering his diet)- we don't just rely on the meds.

You're the mama. You do the best with the information you have at the time, and listen to your gut. Your gut knows.