ADD and ADHD are common problems for children and teens. Sometimes a child just has difficulty with their focus and concentration; that’s ADD. When the child also is hyperactive, that’s when it’s ADHD. Both of these are a result of a slightly slower development of the frontal cortex of the child’s brain, which normally controls impulses. The result of this is that a lot of the child’s natural impulses will flow right on through, and distractions can’t be screened out. The child’s performance might seem less mature than other kids his or her age. However, a lot of what is diagnosed (and medicated!) as ADD and ADHD may really just be a form of child or adolescent anxiety or depression. It’s very important to have a professional who understands these things assess your child carefully.
Sometimes there is a biological cause, that can benefit from medication treatment. But if there is actually an underlying emotional cause, then the right treatment is to talk with your child and make sure they are able to identify, verbalize, and work through those feelings. In that kind of situation, medication is not recommended and cannot be helpful. That’s when individual child or teen counseling is needed. I can also help you coordinate with your child’s school, to make sure your child gets the accommodations that he or she needs to do his or her best. It’s important to get help for these issues early, so that it doesn’t later lead to self-esteem problems, social difficulties, drug or alcohol abuse, and other negative consequences.
Even apart from these underlying issues, many children can benefit from learning the skills of focus and concentration early in life. These are skills that will be helpful in many different ways for years to come.