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The number of child psychiatrists, paediatricians and general practitioners prescribing psychotropic medication for children in the UK is increasing. Medication is being used not just to treat children of normal intelligence with hyperkinetic disorder or depression, but also to modify behavioural problems in children with developmental disorders and severe learning difficulties. Literature reviews highlight the lack of robust randomized controlled drug trials on which to base clinical practice and the authors have found no appropriate existing protocols to help develop a systematized approach.Against such a background the authors have developed a comprehensive set of protocols covering prescribing details for individual drugs, and also addressing issues such as informed consent, long-term monitoring and school liaison. All children referred to the authors' clinics go through a standardized decision-making process. This article describes both the protocols themselves and the philosophies that guided their development. The authors describe how such a system benefits the children, their families, general practitioners and schools, whilst also facilitating audit and research.