dangers of medicating emotions

Gain a full understanding before considering medicating your child’s emotions

the long-term dangers of medicating our children

From The Secure Child set of talks and materials


Almost one in five children around the globe experience some form of behavioural or emotional problems during their childhood. And as a response, medicated solutions to these concerns are drastically on the rise. 

However, before starting any course of medication for your child, look to understand the underlying causes. Especially if you are looking for any kind of long-term solution. And question solutions that simply seek to mask the problems underneath. And be well aware of the long-term dangers of medicating our children’s emotions.

Unmanaged, behavioural and emotional problems of childhood can manifest into long-term psychotic symptoms in our adolescents (WHO). 

How your child responds to any situation will be informed by every experience that has gone before.  A tendency to react in certain ways will have established within them. Along with triggers that see their thinking and feeling cycles spiralling. Prompting behaviours that they will not always get right.  This is all a part of growing up. And children need to feel and experience this as they learn to manage their bodies reactions. 

However, for some children this can be more difficult. When they experience problems, they may struggle to manage. They may experience difficulties concentrating or simply sitting still.  They may have an increased impulsiveness or tendency to ‘drift’.

All of which will have clear repercussions on their schoolwork and their time in the classroom.  Presenting a range of difficulties and challenges, this can have long term effects on both the child and everyone around them.

Diagnoses of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) on the rise. 

But by understanding the mechanisms that are driving your child’s responses, you can learn to support these processes. Without the need for potentially lifelong and little understood medications.

With excessive levels of stress now linked to the stem cause of many diseases, your instinct may be to wade in and manage the situation.  A more helpful response in the long-term is to recognise what is happening. And to help your child to understand their emotions as you offer them methods of recognising and managing their behaviours for themselves.

Long-term psychological and emotional effects of unmanaged stress on children are on the rise. 

As you help your child recognise feelings within themselves, and the behaviours and outcomes they evoke, you are embedding different pathways in their brain.  Actively helping them to recognise their emotions and modify their behaviours in the moment. As you do so, guide them as together you consider previous feelings and responses. And and look to break the negative cycles that might be in place, and reinforce some more positive ones.

Every experience reinforces the likelihood of future behaviours, informing and reinforcing emotional responses.

Once your child can recognise their emotions, they can begin to acknowledge them. And recognise how they are making them feel.  This is essential if they are going to learn how to manage them. But they need to feel them in the first place.  While this might sound scary, it is far less scary than the dangers you will face if medicating your children’s emotions.

Recognise the dangers of medicating your child’s emotions. And avoid seeing emotions as an obstacle or difficulty to be controlled. 

Emotions are a part of everyone’s lives and trying to avoid them does little to teach your child how to manage them. All this does – over time – is allow more difficult behaviours to become entrenched. 

And don’t forget, as your child grows older, they are more likely to seek advice and direction from outside the home.  However, the words and actions you can put in place now will continue to resonate with them.  By sharing coping strategies early on, rather than simply masking them, you are equipping your child with emotion regulation skills. Long before their vulnerable teenage years, when you may not be so easily on hand. 


Dr Kathryn Peckham is an Early Childhood Consultant, author and researcher and the founder of Nurturing Childhoods.  Providing all the knowledge, understanding and support you need to nurture your growing child.   www.nurturingchildhoods.co.uk

DEVELOPING EVERY CHILD’S POTENTIAL

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