Pills or Chills for children with ADHD?

Almost 4.5% of children between 4 and 18 years old in the Netherlands are currently taking pills to treat ADHD. Increased performance pressure and decreased tolerance of deviant behavior are important causes of the increased demand for help. Is there an alternative to pills?

To investigate this, UvA-minds has started the ‘Meditation or Medication’ study. It is led by Dr. Susan Bögels, director of UvA-minds and internationally renowned in the field of mindfulness and cognitive therapy. Two groups of young people follow different treatment methods: either medication or mindfulness training; pill or chill.


The research has been for two years and the results are sensational. Mindfulness training in children with ADHD leads to a significant reduction in behavioral problems, impulsivity and improvements in attention and concentration. Dani and his mother Andrea participated in the study and benefited greatly from the mindfulness training. We meet Dani and his mother and see Susan Bögels at work. We discover that ADHD is not a disorder per se, but that children with ADHD are also creative, resourceful and humorous. And benefit from ’taking a break’.


Although mindfulness appears to be very effective, it is not an instant solution in our current social environment. We see Dani and some other children from the study some time later. They talk about how the increasing pressure and incentives have made them choose medication. Does this mean that mindfulness is not an alternative to Ritalin in our society or is our society as a whole actually ready for mindfulness training? As far as I’m concerned: bye bye medication and welcome ways like medication! As a teacher, I have often spoken to students with ADHD about how they personally experienced the medication. I almost always heard from students that there was some kind of ‘blanket’; lay over them. And that they no longer felt like themselves…


Watch the documentary by Simon Bunt & Martijn van Beenen here