Did Anyone Ask Me How I Feel About Being Forced to Take Behavior-Changing-Medications?

g. kirklandholmesStarred Page By g. kirklandholmes, 24th May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

As major decisions are made about students in classrooms all over the United States, has anyone stopped to ask the children what do they think about taking medications? Did anyone stop to ask the children if they think medications could help them? Did anyone stop to ask the children if they knew why they were exhibiting negative or inappropriate behaviors? This article delves into the other side of the pendulum- "Whose in charge here?"

What Am I Doing That Causes People to Be So Frustrated With Me?

The big question that many educators who are pro-medication and those who may appear to be anti-medication is what is it that the child is doing that is deemed inappropriate? It is amazing the responses to this question. One parent relayed that her child was sent to the principal's office four times because he got up and washed his hands. He was a clean child and did not like to get anything on his hand. Another parent said her child sneezed and did not cover his mouth and was placed in time-out for one hour. Of course the big one is "talking." Those children who are verbal and may like to talk more than others find themselves getting in trouble more than those who choose to remain silent. I remember my son getting in trouble in preschool because the teacher said he talked too much at the table during lunch time. So talking has really caused many children to be disciplined and often misdiagnosed with a behavioral problem. Some children who are gifted and talented and really need to be challenged are also among those who may be disciplined unfairly or labeled as a behavioral problem, when indeed they may not. Six year-old Jamie finished a boring worksheet in five minutes. He knew all of the answers, completed the worksheet, and then proceeded to go over to the class library and start reading a book. He is disciplined because he finished that sheet too fast, which was interpreted as him having a short attention span. But when the teacher checked his quickly completed worksheet, all of the answers were correct. So then she told him to sit there until the other children were done. _Trouble- these stories are among some of where someone in the educational setting might become frustrated with the child and sometimes may initiate a mis-diagnosis or referral.

Did You Try to Discuss With Me What I Needed to Do?

When they sent five year-old Joey to me as a student in my class. They made no qualms about how he had been kicked out of four preschools already. Right away I thought about whether they needed to tell me that or not. So I tried to tune that part of his initial entry into my classroom out of my mind. Only to find that it could not leave my mind and didn't leave my mind. So as the children began to play during free-play time, I thought of how I could turn that information into something positive for me as the teacher. Okay, let's see if that information would give me a clue as to why he was asked to leave all of these programs at such a very young age. As I began to observe Joey, the first thing I noticed is that he really became involved in his play in the housekeeping area. So when I began to sing the clean-up song, all of the other children knew that it meant to start cleaning up and to get ready for a transition into the next activity. So we were getting ready to leave the classroom to go swimming, one of our privileges in this particular school. So as all of the children hurriedly lined up to get ready, Joey was still playing upstairs in the housekeeping area. Had he ignored my signs, did he understand the clues, did he observe that the other children had all left the area after cleaning up? Did he notice that he was the only one left in the area? So I said to him, "Joey you need to come down from the loft now." Before I could finish my statement, he said, "No." I said "Joey, I need you to come down so that you can join all of the other children as we are about to go swimming." He still said, "No."
Then I started walking upstairs to the loft as I said, "Then I will need to come up and help you come down." Then Joey quickly ran down the stairs after I got on step #2. So I reminded him that when I asked him to please come down, that he needed to do so. He agreed. I then began to see what some of his challenges were. But as I began to learn more about Joey over the next few weeks, I realized that it appeared that no one took the time to explain to him what he needed to do. Based on his statements, it seemed as though he had so many times of what he didn't do, that someone forgot to tell him what he needed to do. So that was my job that changed Joey's behaviors and his life. Joey was NOT placed on medication!

Did Anyone Really Care About Helping Me to Succeed?

For many of us in the field of education, there are sometimes some bold steps that we have to take to help some children succeed. I remember well many days when it appeared to me that an educator seemed to have such a negative attitude about a certain student. Sometimes it seemed just downright unfair. Sometimes it made me stop and wonder was the child really the way the educator described him/her or was this a child that perceived no one cared. Well if there was no one else in the whole wide world who cared about that child, it was going to be me. I think I was born that way, growing up in neighborhoods where we all needed each other. Growing up in neighborhoods where none of us had much, but whatever we had, we were willing to share with others. We were a close-knit group of families who continued like that until adult-hood. Still today, while I live far away from that neighborhood, those neighbors have never forgotten the joyous times we shared and cared. We still communicate about it today. So, I believe in helping children to know that we care, and we want them to succeed- no strings attached!

Did Anyone Ever Hear About Positive Discipline?

Now my cousin Semee who goes to school down south told me that she has a nice teacher. She said the teacher uses something they call, "Positive Discipline." She said that means that the teacher treats all of the children nicely. She never talks down to them and she encourages them to do well and to do their best. So when they do their best, the teacher tries to help them even more. She even told me that all of the children in her class behave and act nice. They all try to help each other so that they all can do well. She told me how she wishes all children could have "Positive Discipline." Positive Discipline is what the teacher uses to promote positive attitudes and behaviors. The focus is on the positive rather than the negative. With the promotion of positive discipline, it encourages all of the students to try hard to obey the rules, to comply with the expectations and work hard to do their best. The students work cooperatively and if there is a weaker student, they all join together to help for they believe "we all are in this together." What a great motto for a group of students.

Did Anyone Ask Me If I Wanted to Take Pills When I Go to School?

Now, let's stop and think about this for a moment. No one thinks about including children when it comes to this big decision about whether to take pills or not to change their behaviors. Even as adults, we can become very upset if anyone tries to impose some decisions on us that we had no input on or that we did know was coming our way. When we stop and think about it, children are really not too much different from us. We al of a sudden spring on the fact that the child needs to take a pill that they know nothing about, no one bothered to explain why someone felt that they needed to take the pill. Then to top that off, no one bothered to explain to the child the way that this pill might make them feel or how it might make them feel until their system may adjust to it. Then some say there is no such thing as a system adjustment. Of course depending on the dosage, a child's reaction to the medication can be from one extreme to the next. So to be told that when you go to school, the nurse is going to start giving you a pill to take. That pill the children sometimes are told will help you learn better in school.

Did Anyone Ask Me About the Real Side Effects?

Sometimes if we as adults take an extra caring moment and ask the children how does the medication make them feel? Many of us would be surprised at what the children have to say about the effects of the medication on them physically, emotionally and mentally for starters. I was very surprised when an 8 year-old girl came up to me during the after school program and said, Mrs. Holmes can you please ask my mother to stop letting me take this medication?" To be honest I was shocked and truly caught off-guard by this student's question. Now while I was shocked, I found myself saying, "Sure, I will talk to your mother about it." To my surprise, I had no hesitation about talking to her mother. I think I was most surprised to have the child voluntarily telling me how she felt and how the medication made her feel. I was so saddened by her remarks with tears welling in my eyes, I hurt for her and so many others like her. She continued and said, "That medicine makes my stomach hurt so bad. It makes my stomach hurt so bad that I can not eat." I couldn't help but look at her apparently under-nourished body frame and wondered about her size prior to the initiation of taking the medication. While we don't always hear from the children, or perhaps they don't have the confidence in some adults to share their feelings about how the medications really affect them. Some of the side effects are very obvious. Seven year-old Stephen's blue jeans would be wet in the front everyday when I would pick him up after school. My question, "Stephen, you wet your pants again?" His response, touching the front of his pants as if in shock, "No I didn't." Little did I know that in some instances the child does not know that they had wet their clothes due to lack of bladder control or feelings of limited bladder control. The list goes on about the real side effects, some seen and many unseen. To those who decide to place some of the students on these behavior-altering medications, it is urgent that the side effects are studied. Insomnia is another one that is often overlooked. But we all know how irritable any of us can become when we are lacking sleep.

Did Anyone Ask Me Why I Now Want To Rebel Even More?

After the powers to be have decided that some children need to take medications to help control their behaviors in the classroom, they forget a very important part. Some students feel that after the decision is made and the administering process begins, it then becomes a part of the daily routine--who will administer and the time or times? The child is to be ready to receive the medication at the recommended time. Someone decided that a certain time of day was best for the child to have optimal learning opportunities during the school day. Then there is a team who decides if the child should have medications when at home or during the weekends? Some say give the medications to the child only during school hours and not at home. While others say give the medications to the child only during "learning hours." Some parents then complain of the "off track" behaviors at home when the child is not on the medication while at home or away from school.

Who Are The People Who Are Doing This to Me and My Friends?

As we come to a close with this section in preparation for Part IV( in a series of 5), it now brings the issue to the forefront even more about the rights of children. Some feel that because they are minors, they have no rights. Others say they do not know what is best for them- after all they are very young. Then some still fell that the adults in their lives are the wisest and can make the best decisions about their well-being. Unfortunately there are some children who do seem to know what might be better for them based on how some medications make them feel or not feel. Many of them are very verbal and can say exactly how they feel. The question is, "Are you listening? Do you really care what the child says or thinks about this whole medication issue? Don't miss Part V (in a series of 5) as we look at some of the long term effects, consequences and sad but true situations where children who were on behavioral altering drugs, may NOT participate in certain life career choices.


Behavior Help, Behavior Modification, Behavior Modification Techniques, Behavior Of Children, Behaviors, Behaviour Pattern, Behaviour Problems, Child, Child Development, Child Safety, Childhood, Children, Childrens Health, Childs Rights, Medical Treatment, Ritalin

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author avatar g. kirklandholmes
I am an early childhood educator and taught pre-school-kindergarten multi-age grouping classes and early childhood courses at the University of Northern Iowa. I also publish with expertscolumn.com

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author avatar Delicia Powers
24th May 2013 (#)

I breath a sigh of thanks, this article is so much what needed to be said- so much what needs to be understood and addressed...thank you g...for this wonderful much needed article!

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
24th May 2013 (#)

Nicely written psychological article..

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