Ritalin: A quick fix?

I have a third grade son who gets good grades, but his behavior remains at a "C" level. I have asked the teachers if his "average" behavior with such otherwise high grades could be a sign of boredom? It was suggested that I put my son on Ritalin. This seems strange since his bad behavior is only at recess or between classes. Why is it that whenever there is a so-called "behavior" problem, the first thing that is suggested is to put the child on this drug?


Ritalin continues to be a source of controversy in the education, parenting, and medical communities. For every person that endorses the drug, there is a person who decries its value. Clearly, a consensus has not been reached.

Teachers face many more behavior problems in classrooms today than in years past. This is, in part, a reflection of society as a whole. Behaviors that were not acceptable years ago are now tolerated, which clearly shows that standards have changed. Teachers have to work much harder at classroom management because there are many children who simply have not been taught, or do not recognize, acceptable behavior. For many of these children, appropriate behavior is not modeled in the home, so they really do not understand what is expected of them in the classroom.

In recent years, Ritalin has appeared to help some of these children for whom the label ADHD has been applied. The medication appears to slow them down enough that they get into less trouble and are able to focus on their studies more intently. Many children see their academic and citizenship grades improve with the assistance of Ritalin. However, there are also children who do not respond well to the medication and may even suffer from serious side effects caused by the drug.

We live in a "quick fix" age, I believe. The quickest and easiest resolution to any problem is often the most desirable. There are cases where behavior is so extremely inappropriate that medication is warranted, but that does not mean it is the best solution for all children. In fact, I have seen children transformed by diet and therapy without the intervention of medication. Unfortunately, Ritalin seems to be a favored alternative because it is easier and fast-acting.

Luckily, there are healthier alternatives to Ritalin for dealing with a child's hyperactivity. These options involve the parents and teachers working together to make the transition successful. The pediatrician and a counselor may also be important players in this scenario. For more information on alternatives to Ritalin, you may want to visit http://www.breggin.com/ritalin.html or http://www.p-a-r.org/.

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