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Labeling tantrums a mental illness doesn't help
October 24th, 2011
08:17 AM ET

Labeling tantrums a mental illness doesn't help

Dr. Claudia M. Gold is a pediatrician and author of "Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums and Other Everyday Behavior Problems by Seeing the World Through Your Child's Eyes."

In the winter of 2010, there was a lot of talk in the news (and I wrote an Op-Ed in The Boston Globe, "Warning label on new diagnosis") about a proposed new diagnosis for children, then called temper dysregulation disorder with dysphoria, or  TDD. The committee that is assigned the task of creating the new DSM-V, the diagnostic manual for mental health, got a lot of flak, so now they have changed the name to disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, or DMDD.

Many thought that including the word "temper" would make temper tantrums, a normal and healthy part of development, a disorder. So is the new label an improvement? I think the whole discussion is misguided. It diverts our energies for addressing the real problem, namely that there is not enough help in this country, in the form of primary care, mental health care or community support, for struggling parents who are on the front lines raising the next generation.

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Calming your child's ADHD symptoms
October 5th, 2011
07:37 AM ET

Calming your child's ADHD symptoms

Dr. Claudia M. Gold is a pediatrician and author of "Keeping Your Child in Mind: Overcoming Defiance, Tantrums and Other Everyday Behavior Problems by Seeing the World Through Your Child's Eyes."

Five-year-old Max came to see me in my pediatrics practice because his kindergarten teachers were convinced that he had ADHD. They knew little about his life, yet they were pressuring his mother, Alice, to come to me in the hopes that I would prescribe medication, because his behavior in class was increasingly disruptive. Alice came to the first visit armed with the standard forms, indicating that he had scored in the high range for ADHD.

My approach to the diagnosis of ADHD, up a startling 29% according to a recent CDC report, has grown out of over 20 years practicing general and behavioral pediatrics, while simultaneously studying contemporary developmental science at the interface of genetics, psychology and neuroscience. I have come to recognize the essential role of understanding the meaning of behavior, rather than responding simply to the behavior itself, in promoting healthy emotional development.

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Filed under: ADHD • Brain • Children's Health • Psychology

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