How to Get Your Parents to Put You On ADHD Medication

Three Parts:Getting a DiagnosisBuilding SupportTalking To Your Parents

If your ADHD is negatively impacting your life, you may feel as though medication is your last remaining option. Your parents, however, may be hesitant to let you start taking ADHD medication. You can try to convince them to let you start, but first, you will need to establish that you actually have ADHD. If you have been diagnosed, reach out to local and online resources to help build your case before you sit down with your parents for an honest talk. Through mature discussion, you may be able to persuade them, if it's the best course of action.

Part 1
Getting a Diagnosis

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    Identify your symptoms. If you are not already diagnosed with ADHD, then you should spend some time learning about the symptoms. Being easily distracted is not the only symptom of ADHD, and you should not go on medication unless you are diagnosed. To be diagnosed, you must have started having problems before age 12, and these problems must have lasted for more than six months before you visit the doctor.[1] In addition, your symptoms must occur in at least two different settings (such as home and school), and they must cause some difficulty in social, academic, or occupational situations. Symptoms include:
    • Inability to pay attention
    • Disorganization
    • Forgetfulness
    • Hyperactivity [2]
    • Extreme fidgeting[3]
    • Insomnia or sleep problems[4]
    • Impulsive behavior
    • Excessive daydreaming[5]
    • And more. The Center for Disease Control offers a checklist to help you determine which specific symptoms you have.[6] You can also take an online questionnaire, such as the one offered by the Attention Deficit Disorder Association.[7]
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    Record your feelings. It can be hard to approach your parents or your doctor when you’re not sure how to express what is wrong with you. Keep a journal or a word document in which you write down your daily or weekly struggles. While tasks such as this may be difficult for you to remember (depending on the severity of your condition), it will help you put your struggles into words. Be sure to consider:
    • How your symptoms are making your life more difficult right now
    • What you do in order to accommodate or "get around" your symptoms
    • When in the past your symptoms interfered with your life
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    Determine if any family members have ADHD. ADHD is a genetic disorder. If you display the symptoms of ADHD and you have a family history of it, your case for a diagnosis is strong.[8] Ask your parents if anyone else in your family has been diagnosed. If not, ask them if anyone has displayed the key symptoms of ADHD. Bring this information with you when you visit the doctor.
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    Consult a doctor. Different types of doctors can diagnose ADHD. These include child psychiatrists, pediatricians, and psychologists.[9] Ask your parents to allow you see a qualified doctor. Bring with you the evidence you have gathered about your potential ADHD. You cannot receive medication without a doctor’s prescription, and the advice of a psychologist will go a long way in convincing your parents to put you on medication.
    • Be specific about your problems, and ask directly for an ADHD assessment. You can say something like, "I have trouble paying attention, especially in class. It is difficult for me to remember tasks, and I can't stay still during the day. I would like you to test me for ADHD."[10]
    • Diagnosis is a long process that involves many medical and psychological tests. Both you and your parents will be interviewed about your family history, social life, problems in school, and other medical conditions. Your school/teachers may be interviewed or given questionnaires to help with the diagnosis. You may also be subject to different medical screenings to make sure that you do not have a different condition.[11]
    • Your doctor may prescribe you medicine, but your parents may still not want you to take it. Be prepared for this possibility.

Part 2
Building Support

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    Talk to your school counselor. If you are struggling in school, you should do as much as you can to manage your ADHD while still passing your classes. A good place to start is your school guidance counselor or psychologist. Explain your diagnosis and your specific difficulties in school. Express your frustration that you are not able to take medication. Your counselor may talk to your parents to help you get medication. If not, they will assist you with getting individual help in the meantime.
    • Be as specific as you can. For example, “I struggle paying attention in class. After five minutes, I zone out. I am getting in trouble from Mrs. A for not listening. I want to listen, but it’s hard for me to do so.”
    • Without insulting or blaming your parents, let your guidance counselor know that you are not able to take medication. For example, “I’m currently not on medication. My parents worry about the side effects. I am not sure that I can do well in school without it, though.”
    • If you can, get your counselor and your parents to sit down for a meeting. They should discuss your performance at school, your goals, and your treatment options. Your parents may have more respect for their advice.[12]
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    Show your parents the research. There are many support groups online for ADHD, and there are a few foundations that offer information. Print out the web pages for the relevant information. Encourage your parents to visit their websites.[13] This will show that you have done your homework on your condition and that you are serious about starting medication. You can start your research at these websites:
    • Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)[14]
    • Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA)[15]
    • Learning Disabilities Association of America[16]
    • National Institute of Mental Health[17]
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    Consider behavioral therapy. If you are currently not using any type of treatment, you may be able to convince your parents to let you start behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy is a type of psychological counseling that helps you organize your life and stay on top of your schoolwork. During this therapy, you will be trained to manage your ADHD through positive and negative feedback.[18] This is a compromise. By asking for behavioral therapy, you are showing that you want to work on your ADHD. If the therapy does not work (most people get at least some benefit from behavioral therapy, but you may still need medication as well), your parents may be more willing to let you start medication.[19]
    • You can say something like, "I think behavioral therapy would help me improve my concentration, especially since you don't want me to go on medication. I really want to learn how to manage my condition, and without medication, this may be the only way."
    • If behavioral therapy doesn't work, you can always reintroduce the topic of medication. Say something like, "I have worked really hard on my therapy, but it's not working as well as it should. I may need medication to help manage my symptoms while I do therapy."
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    Discover the risks. Before you decide if you want to go on ADHD medication or not, you should be very aware of the risks. Medication will not solve all of your problems. In fact, medication is recommended only to help ease symptoms as you go through behavioral therapy.[20] There are many potential side effects from ADHD medication. Understanding what these risks are will help you make a mature decision regarding your health. These risks include:
    • Loss of appetite
    • Problems with sleeping
    • Involuntary tics[21]
    • Depression
    • Dizziness or nausea
    • Restlessness[22]
    • Seizures
    • Heart problems[23]

Part 3
Talking To Your Parents

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    Wait until they are relaxed. When you talk to your parents, you not want to jump them as soon as they get home from work, nor do you want to distract them while they are busy cleaning or cooking. Wait until they are free for the day. You may choose to approach them over dinner or as they sit down to watch TV for the night. Tell them that you want to have a serious talk. Ask if you can speak alone for a few minutes, uninterrupted.[24]
    • A good way to start the conversation is to say: “Can we talk for a few minutes? I am struggling with my ADHD, and I think we need to reconsider my treatment.”
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    Explain your symptoms and concerns. Tell your parents how you have been struggling. Let them know that any treatments you have had up to this point are not working. Focus on how it is distracting you at school and how you are unable to finish your schoolwork.[25]
    • You can say something like: “My teachers keep failing me because I can’t study for tests, and at this point, I’m worried about applying for college. The help they’re giving me isn’t working, and I need something more to help keep me focused.”
    • If they try to dismiss your concerns, you can try repeating the issues in a calm voice. Something like: “I hear your concerns, but I really think that it is becoming a problem.” If they still won’t listen, back off and try again another day.[26]
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    Ask about medication. Once you have brought up your struggles, you can move the conversation towards the subject of medication. Tell them that you know the risks but that you think it is the only way for you to get the help that you need. Speak in a calm, rational voice.
    • You can say, “I really think medication would help me. At this point, it’s my only option. I know that ADHD medication is a big deal, but I think I’m prepared to handle it.”
    • If they bring up the potential side effects, you can say, “I know the side effects, but they are minimal. I think that the benefits outweigh the risks. Few people have serious side effects from ADHD medication.” You may also want to show proof of this.[27]
    • If they are concerned you will become addicted, reassure them that you are able to manage your medication. You can say, “I know some people get addicted, but I promise I will be responsible. My medication will be monitored by my doctor. Besides, you will always be the ones filling my prescriptions, so you will know that I am only taking the recommended dose.”
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    Give them time to think. Your parents will have much to consider. They want what is best for you, and they may be uncertain that medication is the answer. Tell them you will give them a few days to think about it. After a week, if they have not brought it up, start the conversation again.
    • You can say, “Hey, I was just wondering if you had given any more thought about my ADHD medication?”
    • Try asking your parents to allow you to take a medication for a trial period, say for a month or two, to see how it works and if you have any problems with it.
    • If they are still uncertain after a few days, you can repeat your arguments. It may take a little persistence to convince them.


  • You will get farther by acting mature, rational, and reasonable than by becoming upset or throwing a tantrum.
  • It may take a few tries to convince your parents to let you take medication.
  • Think about why you want to take ADHD medications, and make sure that you want them for the right reasons. Your parents may sometimes know more than you think.


  • If your parents say no, there is little you can do. Look into other techniques for managing your ADHD.
  • ADHD medication can be addictive. If you do get a prescription, use it responsibly. If you've had problems with drugs or alcohol in the past, your parents and/or doctor may not feel you should take ADHD medications.

Sources and Citations

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Categories: Attention and Developmental Disorders | Health for Teens and Kids