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The Best Way to Handle ADHD in Young Kids

The Best Way to Handle ADHD in Young Kids

One million viewers a day tune in to ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption to watch Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon debate, inflate and rant about the latest sports news. Their style is in-your-face and high-rev. If you don’t like it, you can turn it off.

In real life, when high-rev, interruption-filled behavior may be a sign your preschooler has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), it’s tougher to know what to do. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has issued new guidelines to help parents of kids six and younger choose the best treatment for ADHD.

Behavioral therapy that teaches kids and parents how to adopt alternative behaviors and interact more gracefully in social situations is the way to go. That’s because, according to a CDC spokesperson, no one yet knows “what the long-term effects of psychotropic medications are on developing brains and bodies of little kids.” Behavioral therapy, however, is safe and can make long-term improvements in how a child functions at home, in school, and with friends.

Unfortunately, for kids with ADHD, many never get to try behavioral therapy and almost half of preschoolers with ADHD take medications for the disorder. So if your preschooler is hyperactive, impulsive or has trouble focusing, ask for a referral to a behavioral therapist who specializes in treating youngsters with ADHD. Your child may end up on medication if his or her behaviors are seriously unsafe or if behavioral therapy doesn’t address the problem sufficiently, but it’s the smart first step.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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