It is normal for your child to have periods of being hyper, and to not want to pay attention to activities that they find boring. That’s just part of being a child. But a lot of parents miss the signs of ADHD and hyperactivity in their child because they pass off this behavior as them being a difficult child and don’t think about their mental health. The good news is, your child probably isn’t a lazy troublemaker. So, what are the signs of ADHD in children?
Primary Signs of ADHD in Children
Most of the time, when someone thinks of a child with ADHD, they assume it is a child who has a lot energy and is practically bouncing off of the walls. While hyperactivity is definitely a symptom of ADHD, that doesn’t mean that is all that ADHD is. Some children with ADHD will sit still, but have their mind in a faraway place, not paying attention. Other children are mildly attentive, but impulsive.
-Inattentive, but not hyperactive or impulsive.
-Inattentive, hyperactive, and impulsive(the most common form of ADHD).
-Hyperactive and impulsive, but very attentive.
A child who is attentive is often overlooked, since they aren’t causing problems, but silently has ADHD.
When can you tell if it may be ADHD?
We expect most children to have shorter attention spans as toddlers and very young children. Once a child is about four or five, most children should know how to pay attention to others and sit quietly for short periods of time. It’s around this age that it is easier to tell which children are exhibiting signs of ADHD.
There is a common misconception with inattentiveness. A child with ADHD will not have a problem sitting still and paying attention when the task or activity is something that they really love and enjoy. It is when they find the task at hand to be boring or unenjoyable that they will struggle to pay attention. Another common problem among inattentive children with ADHD is that they can’t stay on task. For example, homework is an area that many children who exhibit inattentiveness struggle with. Some symptoms of inattentiveness include:
-Has trouble staying focused
-Frequently loses or misplaces toys, homework, books, etc.
-Has trouble staying organized
-Appears to not listen when they are spoken to
Signs of impulsiveness
The next sign of ADHD to watch for is impulsiveness. This can often cause problems with self control, since they tend to censor themselves less than other children their age. They will often interrupt conversations, invade in others personal space, and ask overly personal questions. If your child has ADHD, they may also be moody and overly emotional, at least, more than you think may be appropriate for their situation. A few symptoms of impulsiveness are:
-Acting without thinking
-Inability to control powerful emotions
-Intruding on others conversations or activities
Signs of hyperactivity
Hyperactivity is the most obvious sign that your child has ADHD. Many children with hyperactivity seem to never stop moving. They may try to do too many things at once, bouncing from one activity to the next, and never fully finishing the one that they were doing before moving on, or moving back to a previous activity that they never finished. This hyperactivity can be absolutely exhausting. Even when sitting still, these children are still moving. Tapping their fingers, fidgeting with their feet, or squirming in their chair. A few other symptoms include:
-A quick temper
-Constantly moving, and often running and climbing up things that they shouldn’t
-Difficulty sitting still or playing quietly
-Constantly fidgeting or squirming
So, is it ADHD?
If you suspect that your child has ADHD, the first step is to bring them into see their pediatrician. Just because your child exhibits some of the symptoms of ADHD, doesn’t mean that that is what it is. Some medical conditions, physiological disorders, and stressful or traumatic life events can look a lot like ADHD, so it is best to bring your child to a specialist to have them diagnosed. Meeting with a qualified professional will help you rule out other mental disorders, stressful life events, medical conditions, and other behavioral issues, so that you can move forward to the most accurate diagnosis.