When Your Child’s ADHD Treatment Stops Working

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many children worldwide. Children with ADHD have trouble with paying attention, controlling impulsivity, and hyperactivity. One common way of treating ADHD is medication, like stimulants, which can help improve focus, mood, and behavior. However, even with medication, some children’s ADHD symptoms may return or worsen over time. When this happens, parents and caregivers should consider the following tips to help their children get back on track:

Understand the Reasons Why the Treatment Stopped Working

There are many reasons why a child’s ADHD medication or therapy may stop working. One reason could be that the child has developed a tolerance to the medication, making it less effective. Another reason could be that the child’s body weight has changed, affecting the dosage or type of medication needed to treat their symptoms. Other reasons may include changes in the child’s diet or sleep patterns, coexisting medical or mental health conditions, and changes in the child’s external environment, like school or home life. Identifying the specific reason why the treatment stopped working can help parents and caregivers find a better solution.

Consult with Your Child’s Doctor or Healthcare Provider

It is essential to seek professional help when your child’s ADHD treatment stops working. Talk to your child’s doctor or healthcare provider to discuss the problems and potential solutions. The doctor may recommend adjusting the dosage, switching to a different medication, or adding complementary therapies like counseling or behavior therapy to the treatment plan. The doctor can help monitor your child’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider who has experience treating ADHD and who understands your child’s medical history and overall health needs.

Make Sure Your Child is Getting Enough Sleep

Good sleep habits are essential for everyone, but they are especially important for children with ADHD. Lack of sleep can worsen ADHD symptoms, including hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattention. Children with ADHD may also have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, which can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty focusing during the day. To ensure that your child is getting enough sleep, establish a consistent bedtime routine, limit electronic devices before bedtime, and make sure the bedroom is conducive to sleep (cool, dark, and quiet). If your child still has trouble sleeping, talk to their doctor or healthcare provider about possible solutions.

Maintain a Consistent Diet and Exercise Routine

Diet and exercise can have a significant impact on a child’s ADHD symptoms. Research has shown that children with ADHD may benefit from a diet that is low in sugar, unhealthy fats, and artificial colors or flavors. Instead, they may benefit from a diet that is high in protein, vegetables, and healthy fats. Exercise can also help reduce ADHD symptoms by improving mood, reducing stress, and increasing focus. Encourage your child to engage in physical activities they enjoy, like team sports, dancing, or swimming. Try to maintain a consistent schedule to help your child stay on track with their diet and exercise routine.

Consider Psychotherapy or Behavior Therapy

Medication alone may not always be enough to manage a child’s ADHD symptoms. In some cases, psychotherapy or behavior therapy may be needed to help the child learn new skills and strategies to manage ADHD. Psychotherapy can help children and their families understand the psychological and social factors that contribute to ADHD and help develop coping mechanisms. Behavior therapy can help children learn new ways of responding to challenging situations, managing impulsivity, and improving social skills. Talk to your child’s doctor or healthcare provider for more information about these therapies and how they can complement medication.


In conclusion, a child’s ADHD treatment may stop working for various reasons, including medication tolerance, changes in weight, diet or sleep patterns, external environment, or coexisting medical or mental health conditions. When this happens, it’s important to seek professional help from your child’s doctor or healthcare provider. Other ways to manage ADHD symptoms include improving sleep habits, diet, and exercise routines, as well as considering psychotherapy or behavior therapy as a complement to medication. With the right support and interventions, children with ADHD can lead happy and successful lives.


FAQs: When Your Child’s ADHD Treatment Stops Working

1. Why do ADHD treatments sometimes “stop working”?

It is not uncommon for ADHD treatments to become less effective over time. This may happen because the child’s body becomes accustomed to the medication, or because the child’s symptoms change or become more severe. Sometimes the child may develop a tolerance to the medication, meaning that the same dose no longer has the same effect.

2. What should I do if my child’s ADHD treatment stops working?

If you notice that your child’s ADHD treatment is no longer effective, it is important to speak to your doctor or therapist. They may need to adjust the dosage or try a different medication. It’s important not to simply stop treatment, as this could lead to a worsening of symptoms.

3. How can I prevent ADHD treatment from “stopping working”?

To prevent ADHD treatment from becoming less effective, it is important to communicate with your doctor or therapist. They can help you monitor your child’s progress and adjust the treatment plan as needed. It’s also important to follow any lifestyle recommendations, such as regular exercise and healthy eating, as these can help support the effectiveness of ADHD treatment.


1) Gajria, K., Lu, M., Sikirica, V., Greven, P., Zhong, Y., Qin, P., & Xie, J. (2016). Adherence, persistence, and medication discontinuation in patients with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder–a systematic literature review. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 12, 1061–1079. https://www.dovepress.com/articles.php?article_id=26002

2) Falluca, D., & Perrin, J. M. (2014). Pharmacotherapy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: Across-the-lifespan review of efficacy, safety, and specific treatment issues in children and adolescents. Current psychiatry reports, 16(7), 1–12. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11920-014-0467-2

3) Wilens, T. E., Faraone, S. V., Biederman, J., & Gunawardene, S. (2003). Does stimulant therapy of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder beget later substance abuse? A meta-analytic review of the literature. Pediatrics, 111(1), 179–185. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/111/1/179