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My Son Takes Medication for ADHD and Does Not Want Any of His Friends to Find Out

Dear Adrienne:

My son takes medication for ADHD and does not want any of his friends to find out. He is nine years old and invited to his first sleepover. The problem is, he can’t swallow pills, so I have to crush them in water for him (or in food). He can’t do it for himself, but he also can’t go a day without them especially since he and his friend plan to spend the day on Sunday doing a school project/homework assignment! He is threatening to cancel the sleepover, but I feel like he needs the socializing as much or more than he needs the pills. What do you suggest?

Keeping Secrets

Dear Secrets:

What a conundrum for your son! This is not unlike kids who have bladder control issues at night and need to wear pull-ups long past the dates their friends still do. The most important thing here is to protect his dignity while at the same time encouraging him not to be ashamed of his meds. Taking medication for ADHD or anxiety should be no more ‘shameful’ than taking antibiotics or insulin. What a shame that as a society we have not yet internalized this message. Here are my suggestions none-the-less for helping him have the socializing he needs without disclosure if he is not ready yet to do so:

  1. Ask your son if he is comfortable having his friends mother privately preparing his meds for him. If he does not want her to know what they are either suggest that you escort him to the door and give the pill to his mother saying ‘my son is taking antibiotics, but he can’t swallow pills. Would you mind crushing this for him in the morning?”
  2. You could drive over to the house in the morning on the pretense that ‘he forgot his homework’ and administer it in the car privately to him
  3. You could spend some time teaching him to crush them himself or pre-crush them and have him put them in his drink or food himself.

I want to share a funny story about a dear friend who had an identical situation. She arrived at the friend’s house with her son and handed the pill to the mother saying “can you please give him his ‘vitamin’ in the morning by crushing it?

The woman laughed and said “certainly! I will give it to him at the same time my son takes HIS ‘vitamin'”. And you should know that in their class there are at least ten other kids on the same ‘vitamin’!”

My friend had to control her laughter, wink and leave. You are not alone, and neither is your son! Whatever you can do to help him ‘save face’ until he has the confidence to be forthright is a gift you give your relationship with him. Preventing embarrassment (whether we think it is warranted or not) is a Mitzvah from our Torah! May you be successful in fulfilling it!

Adrienne Gold Davis

Adrienne is a Momentum Trip Leader.

Adrienne was a Canadian television personality specializing in fashion, style, and beauty for almost two decades before becoming a senior lecturer and community liaison at the Village Shul in Toronto, as well as an international Jewish educator. Adrienne has appeared on all major Canadian television networks and has served as the event host for dozens of charities and organizations.

Adrienne and her husband live in Toronto and have two sons.


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