Pills Are Not For Preschoolers

When it comes to children, I am a firm believer that if they have behavioral issues, medication is usually not the best treatment. 

That said, every child and every family is different. We all need to do what is best for our situation. But in general it seems that kids are too quickly labeled and prescriptions are too quickly prescribed. There is so much that can be done, besides administering pills, to help our children. 

As part of the TLC Book Tour, I recently read "Pills are Not For Preschoolers" A Drug-Free Approach for Troubled Kids, by Marilyn Wedge. A family therapist for more than twenty years, Wedge believes in treating children's problems not as biologically determined disorders but as responses to relationships in their lives. She teaches how to respond to symptoms of ADHD, depression and anxiety by making family modifications, instead of prescriptions. 

More than five million American children are currently diagnosed with ADHD and other psychiatric disorders. A great number of children experience dangerous emotional and physical side effect from the medications prescribed to help with the diagnoses. Often troubled parents wonder if there are other choices. And there ARE other choices. 

It used to be that when children were having behavioral issues, they were sent away to get "fixed". But, this approach had a very low success rate. Why? Because even though the children changed, learned and improved, they came home to their same old environment. Their family had not changed. And as a result, they went right back to their old ways. 

So much of our children's behavior is a result of their environment. We have talked about his here on Family Volley a number of times. It is hard to accept, but WE can contribute to our children's misbehavior. And misbehavior is usually a response to stress, anxiety, sadness, and problems that they feel as a result of their environment and the people in it. 

"Pills Are Not For Preschoolers" works through a number of different examples from Wedges career. And demonstrates how with good child-focused therapy, pills are the last thing that need to be prescribed. 

Children are smart. They pick up on financial strain, marital stress, health issues, life-stress, frustration, impatience and every other family situation and emotion that we juggle. They respond to the situations by misbehaving. They are also always looking for attention. Attention for doing something good or bad, is still getting them attention. 

Wedges' Drug Free Approach is a must read for all parents. The book is hopeful and encouraging and promotes the same philosophies we talk about here on FV. As you read, you will feel enlightened and empowered as a parent. 

Want to refresh your memory as to how you can change your child's behavior? Review a few favorites here on the blog. One-on-One Time, Avoid the Red Pen, Listen First, Choices, and Commitment.

How do you feel about Medicating Children?


  1. Excellent post. I haven't read the book, but I think we are dispensing way too many pills to way too many kids. I also believe that many behavioral issues occur due to poor diet (including undiagnosed food allergies) and environment.

  2. Many thanks Heather for taking the time to read and review my book. I am so pleased that you like it and feel that it would benefit and empower every parent. I agree with Rebecca--food allergies and food sensitivities should always be ruled out first if a child has a change in behavior. I didn't include that in Pills are not for Preschoolers, but will be writing about it in my next book.

  3. Thank you! I'm going to order it right now. I just came home from getting a negative report of my child's behavior at school, and feel very discouraged. I need some help, and this sounds like exactly what I need. Perfect timing!

  4. I agree with the thoughts shared in this article. I want to add though that I believe a lot of childhood attention and behavior issues could be combatted with diet. If you put anything other than gas in your car it won't run. It isn't any different with humans. We are feeding ourselves pseudo foods that are in most cases very void of nutrition. Bodies and minds, whether little or big, cannot function properly with the diet that most people consume.

  5. Great post Heather. My son was diagnosed with ADHD about 18months ago. I was told diet wouldnt help, he was a definate case for drugs. After lots of research I was adament that we would NEVER give him something that was nothing more than a mask for the real issue & that he could end up with liver problems, drug addiction, depression etc. We follow a wheat & dairy free diet. The theory is that ADHD sufferers cant digest the proteins in wheat & dairy so the ferment in the gut & then have an opiate or a drug like effect on them(Just like leaky gut syndrome)We do this as well as take some homeopathic treatments all prescribed by a homeopath. My son is now a regular functioning 9yr old boy, we constantly get compliments about how lovely he is when we go places, this is much nicer than the embarrassment I used to feel!
    So seriously, no wheat or dairy, minimise sugar & preservatives, especially 102 & 211 & there will be no need for drugs. We did also read a few books on approaching outbursts differently as well!!
    Sorry to ramble :))

  6. Feeling enlightening and empowered can sometimes be a few-and-far-between kind of experience for parents - I'm glad this book conveys that kind of knowledge and awareness.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  7. I'm really happy that Trish posted her experience with changing her son's diet and seeing such wonderful results. I plan to include dietary factors in my next book, because I've heard so many anecdotal stories from parents about how much changing their child's diet (eliminating food dyes, sugar, wheat, dairy, etc.) reduced symptoms that doctors call ADHD. Defining ADHD as a strictly medical problem that has to be treated with drugs means that research on dietary factors is rare or non-existent--even though many parents know how helpful they are.

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  9. To decrease the symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome is marshmallow root. This herb soothes the irritated mucous membranes of your digestive tract. Used for centuries to relieve most problems with the belly, it might be found online or at a nearby health food store.

  10. I would have to agree that medication should not be the first resort. It would be good to try to talk to our kids first, and try to listen. It wouldn’t do any good to let them talk and our minds wander off to things like office meetings and weekly schedules. Relationship is key in rearing up a child properly. Nurture vs. nature.

    Georgine Roe

  11. Here is an interview with Marilyn Wedge speaking of her book and issues associated with it:


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