My 14-year-old daughter began taking stimulants for her ADHD 6 months ago. Though we were all hesitant at first to try medication, the results were so clearly positive when she did try it that we had no problem continuing. Lately, though, my daughter has begun “forgetting” to take her pill in the morning. The more we remind her, the more resistant she gets. Her typical response is, “OK, Mom, I’ll take it! Do you think I forgot for a minute that I have ADHD?” So far, she hasn’t missed her medication more than one or two days in a row, but we fear these lapses may grow more frequent if we don’t figure out why they’re happening. Is this kind of resistance common with most kids with ADHD?
Medication continues to carry with it a stigma that many children with ADHD—particularly early adolescents—feel acutely as they try to fit in with their peer group in the neighborhood and at school. In addition, adolescents with ADHD must negotiate the same process of seeking independence from parents that all teenagers do. Your daughter’s resistance to taking medication despite its obvious benefits is not unusual, though it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to your situation, you should work with your daughter and the rest of your treatment team toward a positive approach. This may involve allowing her more control of the medication process—letting her make decisions about when and where she takes the medication— as well as control over the dosage schedule.
Because she is first starting medication in her teenage years, it is important that she had buy-in to the initial trial of medication and that it was carried out in a manner that clearly demonstrated to her that the medication had a clear, positive effect. It is also important that she remain as informed as possible about the medication and all aspects of her medication management.