Adhd symptoms young children

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - Symptoms

Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

The symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be categorised into 2 types of behavioural problems:

  • inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)
  • hyperactivity and impulsiveness

Many people with ADHD have problems that fall into both these categories, but this is not always the case.

For example, around 2 to 3 in 10 people with the condition have problems with concentrating and focusing, but not with hyperactivity or impulsiveness.

This form of ADHD is also known as attention deficit disorder (ADD). ADD can sometimes go unnoticed because the symptoms may be less obvious.

ADHD is more often diagnosed in boys than girls. Girls are more likely to have symptoms of inattentiveness only, and are less likely to show disruptive behaviour that makes ADHD symptoms more obvious. This means girls who have ADHD may not always be diagnosed.

Symptoms in children and teenagers

The symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers are well defined, and they're usually noticeable before the age of 6. They occur in more than 1 situation, such as at home and at school.

Children may have symptoms of both inattentiveness and hyperactivity and impulsiveness, or they may have symptoms of just 1 of these types of behaviour.

Inattentiveness (difficulty concentrating and focusing)

The main signs of inattentiveness are:

  • having a short attention span and being easily distracted
  • making careless mistakes – for example, in schoolwork
  • appearing forgetful or losing things
  • being unable to stick to tasks that are tedious or time-consuming
  • appearing to be unable to listen to or carry out instructions
  • constantly changing activity or task
  • having difficulty organising tasks

Hyperactivity and impulsiveness

The main signs of hyperactivity and impulsiveness are:

  • being unable to sit still, especially in calm or quiet surroundings
  • constantly fidgeting
  • being unable to concentrate on tasks
  • excessive physical movement
  • excessive talking
  • being unable to wait their turn
  • acting without thinking
  • interrupting conversations
  • little or no sense of danger

These symptoms can cause significant problems in a child's life, such as underachievement at school, poor social interaction with other children and adults, and problems with discipline.

Related conditions in children and teenagers with ADHD

Although not always the case, some children may also have signs of other problems or conditions alongside ADHD, such as:

  • anxiety disorder – which causes your child to worry and be nervous much of the time; it may also cause physical symptoms, such as a rapid heartbeat, sweating and dizziness
  • oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) – this is defined by negative and disruptive behaviour, particularly towards authority figures, such as parents and teachers
  • conduct disorder – this often involves a tendency towards highly antisocial behaviour, such as stealing, fighting, vandalism and harming people or animals
  • depression
  • sleep problems – finding it difficult to get to sleep at night, and having irregular sleeping patterns
  • autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) – this affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour
  • dyspraxia – a condition that affects physical co-ordination
  • epilepsy – a condition that affects the brain and causes repeated fits or seizures
  • Tourette's syndrome – a condition of the nervous system, characterised by a combination of involuntary noises and movements (tics)
  • learning difficulties – such as dyslexia

Symptoms in adults

In adults, the symptoms of ADHD are more difficult to define. This is largely due to a lack of research into adults with ADHD.

As ADHD is a developmental disorder, it's believed it cannot develop in adults without it first appearing during childhood. But symptoms of ADHD in children and teenagers often continue into adulthood.

The way in which inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness affect adults can be very different from the way they affect children.

For example, hyperactivity tends to decrease in adults, while inattentiveness tends to remain as the pressures of adult life increase.

Adult symptoms of ADHD also tend to be far more subtle than childhood symptoms.

Some specialists have suggested the following as a list of symptoms associated with ADHD in adults:

  • carelessness and lack of attention to detail
  • continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • poor organisational skills
  • inability to focus or prioritise
  • continually losing or misplacing things
  • forgetfulness
  • restlessness and edginess
  • difficulty keeping quiet, and speaking out of turn
  • blurting out responses and often interrupting others
  • mood swings, irritability and a quick temper
  • inability to deal with stress
  • extreme impatience
  • taking risks in activities, often with little or no regard for personal safety or the safety of others – for example, driving dangerously

Related conditions in adults with ADHD

As with ADHD in children and teenagers, ADHD in adults can occur alongside several related problems or conditions.

One of the most common is depression. Other conditions that adults may have alongside ADHD include:

  • personality disorders – conditions in which an individual differs significantly from the average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others
  • bipolar disorder – a condition affecting your mood, which can swing from one extreme to another
  • obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) – a condition that causes obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour

The behavioural problems associated with ADHD can also cause problems such as difficulties with relationships and social interaction.

Page last reviewed: 24 December 2021
Next review due: 24 December 2024

Preschoolers and ADHD - CHADD

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At times preschoolers may have difficulty paying attention, following directions, and waiting or taking their turn. These behaviors can be common and age appropriate or they may indicate the need for an Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) evaluation. As a parent, you might wonder whether your preschooler has ADHD or is just being rambunctious and acting typical for his or her age. This fact sheet will tell you more about ADHD in preschoolers and what to do if you are concerned about your child.

Can preschoolers have or be diagnosed with ADHD

Yes. Children as young as age 4 can be diagnosed with ADHD. According to the 2010-2011 National Survey of Children’s Health, approximately 194,000 preschoolers (2-5 years of age) had a current ADHD diagnosis. Some children outgrow the symptoms, but others may not. Research shows that 3-year-olds who show symptoms of ADHD are much more likely to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD by age 13.

How can I tell if my preschooler has ADHD

Preschoolers with ADHD are more likely to be suspended from school or daycare because of their disruptive behavior. These kids have more trouble learning concepts at school, and many get special education placements at a very young age when compared to children without ADHD.

As a parent, you will want to know where your child’s behaviors fit along a range of behaviors that are typical of kids the same age. Ask yourself, “When compared with other preschoolers of the same age, where does my child’s behavior fall” Talking with your preschooler’s teachers and/or childcare providers can let you know what are common behaviors in young children and not related to a disorder and what is of more serious concern.

What is involved in having my preschooler evaluated for ADHD

To be diagnosed with ADHD, a child must have a specified number of symptoms for at least 6 months that show up in more than one area of life. For example, if your child has behaviors at home that may look like ADHD but does not have these behaviors in situations outside the home, there may be another explanation. If you suspect that your preschooler has ADHD, you will want to talk to a professional who is trained to diagnose and treat ADHD such as your child’s pediatrician, a child psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker or other qualified mental health clinician. It is also important to have your child checked for other conditions such as vision, hearing, or sleep problems because sometimes the symptoms look like ADHD.

Evaluations for preschoolers should be thorough and follow the guidelines outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). These guidelines recommend a detailed interview with you to determine how long the symptoms have been going on, how severe they are, how often they occur and in what settings. You and your child’s teachers or child care providers will be asked to complete questionnaires with rating scales to evaluate your child’s behavior. The ADHD professional will conduct a detailed review of your preschooler’s school and medical records, talk with and observe your child directly, and check for other conditions your child may have along with ADHD. The professional may also suggest other psychological tests to help understand your preschooler’s strengths and weaknesses in learning and thinking skills and screen for learning disabilities.

What are the symptoms of ADHD in children

A diagnosis of ADHD is based on The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). The manual lists three presentations of ADHD–Inattentive, Hyperactive-Impulsive and Combined and the symptoms for each.


  • Fails to give close attention to details or makes careless mistakes
  • Has difficulty sustaining attention
  • Does not appear to listen
  • Struggles to follow through on instructions
  • Has difficulty with organization
  • Avoids or dislikes tasks requiring a lot of thinking
  • Loses things
  • Is easily distracted
  • Is forgetful in daily activities

Hyperactive Impulsive

  • Fidgets with hands or feet or squirms in chair
  • Has difficulty remaining seated
  • Runs about or climbs excessively in children; extreme restlessness in adults
  • Difficulty engaging in activities quietly
  • Acts as if driven by a motor; adults will often feel inside like they were driven by a motor
  • Talks excessively
  • Blurts out answers before questions have been completed
  • Difficulty waiting or taking turns
  • Interrupts or intrudes upon others

Combined, Inattentive & Hyperactive-impulsive

  • Has symptoms from both of the above lists

These symptoms can change over time, so children may fit different presentations as they age.

What are the causes of ADHD

Research has yet to determine the exact causes of ADHD. However, scientists have discovered a strong genetic link since ADHD can run in families. Other factors in the environment may increase the likelihood of having ADHD:

  • mother smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol while pregnant
  • exposure to lead or pesticides in early childhood
  • premature birth or low birth weight
  • brain injury

Scientists continue to study the exact relationship of ADHD to environmental factors, but point out that there is no single cause that explains all cases of ADHD and that many factors may play a part.

The following factors are NOT known causes, but can make ADHD symptoms worse for some children:

  • watching too much television
  • eating sugar
  • family stress (poverty, family trauma)

Why is it important to address ADHD in my preschooler at an early age

Preschoolers with ADHD are more likely to have difficulties in daycare or school, including problems with peer relationships, learning, and a higher risk of injuries. An early diagnosis is important so that your child can get the needed help to minimize these problems.

Even for the preschooler who might have some symptoms but does not have ADHD, these early years are the time when significant brain development occurs. This is an optimal time for children to learn positive behaviors, and for you to know how to effectively help your child learn. It’s best to address problematic behaviors sooner rather than later.

How should ADHD be treated in preschoolers

When it comes to treatment for preschool and kindergarten-aged children, the AAP calls for behavioral treatments first and medication only when needed. Behavioral therapy from child and adolescent therapists who specialize in ADHD will provide both the parents and the children techniques to teach and reinforce positive behaviors and skills. This will help a preschooler with ADHD to successfully function at home and school.

When medication is prescribed, the AAP recommends starting children ages 4-5 on a methylphenidate medication trial beginning with a low dose. Because children respond differently to medication, what may work for one child may not work for another. The health care professional can adjust the dose to determine if it is helping, if a different medication is needed or if any side effects are present. Treating ADHD is complex, and it is important to continually monitor children to see if the treatment is working. This includes periodically repeating the rating scale assessments to make sure the medication and behavioral therapy are having the desired effect. Additionally, the AACAP Preschool Pharmacology Working Group recommends that preschoolers who are taking ADHD medication have their medication stopped (under the prescribing doctor’s direction) after 6 months to reassess the symptoms and to consider whether the medication should be continued.

What is parent behavioral training and how can it benefit me and my child

Children who have ADHD may not have the skills and behaviors that result in their receiving positive attention. Often they tend to misbehave and are in situations where they are punished more frequently than other children. This can have a negative effect on their self-image and cause them to increase their problem behaviors. Parents and caregivers (daycare providers, preschool teachers, and other caretakers) can learn to manage the behavior of preschoolers who have ADHD by becoming educated about the disorder and by receiving parent training in how to use behavioral techniques.

Parent training programs taught by trained therapists can give caretakers the tools and strategies to help children who have ADHD. A 2010 review by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that effective programs:

  • help parents develop a positive relationship with their child
  • teach them about how children develop
  • help them manage negative behavior and increase positive behavior with positive discipline

Parent behavioral training programs for parents of preschool-aged children that currently have enough research evidence to be described as effective:

  • Triple P (Positive Parenting Program)
  • Incredible Years Parenting Program
  • Parent-Child Interaction Therapy

Other programs that focus on the same elements may also be helpful.

Parents and caregivers who wish to learn more about ADHD and ways to help their child may wish to enroll in Parent to Parent: Family Training on ADHD offered through CHADD.

Are preschoolers receiving the recommended treatments

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 1 in 2 preschoolers do not receive recommended behavioral treatment. The rates of preschool-aged children taking medication for ADHD has doubled in the last four years, and 1 in 4 receive only medication treatment, which should be the last resort.

There is a movement within the field of ADHD to increase access to behavior therapy for young children, particularly to behavioral parenting therapy that is considered evidence-based and effective. The hope is to decrease the rates of preschool and kindergarten-aged children taking medication for ADHD as a first line of treatment.

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| Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Treatment in Children ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in a child (ADHD) is a behavioral and emotional-volitional disorder, as a result of which the child experiences difficulty concentrating attention, perseverance, keeping one or more instructions, often “misses everything is off the ears, ”unsuccessful in mastering the school curriculum. Such children cannot sit in one place for a long time, they are impatient, impulsive, sometimes capricious, their actions are often chaotic and aimless.

Often, parents and caregivers confuse these symptoms of a neurological disease with the characterological features of the child's personality. Therefore, children for a long time remain without due attention of specialists, which is fraught with the development of various adverse manifestations.

Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) often study poorly, and in the future are prone to antisocial changes (prone to alcohol, drug addiction). In such children, the risk of headaches, neuroses, tics increases. Often develop diseases of the cardiovascular and digestive systems, sleep disorders and other adverse factors.

The main danger of this disorder lies in the fact that the external manifestations and symptoms are that the child gives the impression of being very active and energetic, overflowing with energy. Parents decide that the baby does not have enough places where he can throw out all his energy, and I begin to take the child to all possible sports clubs and sections. Thus, the child psychologically and emotionally begins to deplete. Remember, only swimming is shown to a hyperactive child from sports sections !!! External activity is deceptive, so the child is only self-stimulating, trying to concentrate and keep the instruction.

Highly qualified specialists of the neurological and speech therapy center "Above the Rainbow" successfully treat ADHD in Moscow.

Causes of ADHD in children

The exact cause of ADHD has not been determined by medical science. Scientists believe that this condition appears when exposed to a complex of factors. These include:

1. Negative influences during fetal development (pollution of the environment, food, intoxication of the body, infections, Rh-conflict, the threat of miscarriage, pathological childbirth, etc.).
2. Factors that negatively affect the baby's brain at a very early age (hypoxia, anesthesia, antibiotics).
3. Burdened heredity.

The above reasons can cause organic damage to the child's brain, which is expressed by characteristic behavior.


There are 3 types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder:

  1. With a predominance of hyperactivity. More common in boys. They cannot stay in one place, have a "field" behavior, are impatient and restless.
  2. With a predominance of attention deficit. More commonly seen in girls. It is difficult for them to concentrate on one type of activity, attention is sprayed on external stimuli.
  3. Mixed type, when hyperactivity and attention deficit are equally expressed.

ADHD treatment in Moscow at the "Above the Rainbow" center corrects any kind of behavioral disorders.

Early signs of ADHD

How can the disease be detected and treated in a timely manner for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child? In children of the first years of life, certain symptoms of pathology are noted, the appearance of which should alert parents:

  • Rapid physical development (before term they begin to hold their heads, do not crawl, but immediately tend to get up and walk, etc.).
  • They fall asleep hard and for a long time, sleep less than the prescribed norm per day.
  • When tired, they do not calm down, but fall into hysterics and whims.
  • "Field" behavior - the inability to concentrate on one thing for more than 1-2 minutes; throw toys before they can be seen.

Before the age of 3, it is still difficult to determine whether the above manifestations are signs of pathology. By the age of 5-12, the symptoms become clearly visible. Therefore, the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child must be carried out without fail.

The main symptoms of ADHD

The main signs of pathology include:

  1. Attention disorder. The child fails to concentrate on any type of activity, he avoids performing routine activities.
  2. Hyperactivity. The child performs many aimless movements, talks non-stop, has very expressive facial expressions.
  3. Impulsivity. He does not know how to follow the sequence of actions, plan, wait, is guided only by his own desires. These children have emotional lability, that is, a rapid transition from laughter to crying and vice versa. They do not feel danger, which is why they often perform actions that lead to traumatic injuries.

The IQ of a child with ADHD is usually age-appropriate or even superior. However, he has difficulty interacting with peers, being too intrusive or aggressive. Emotional development suffers. The child is characterized by such qualities as imbalance, capriciousness, excessive emotionality. Adults often compare him with other, more obedient children. In this regard, low self-esteem develops, the child withdraws from society or protests, becomes aggressive.

The nervous system of a child with ADHD is not able to adequately perceive external stimuli, and this behavior is an attempt to protect itself from external environmental factors. The baby's nervous system is often depleted, neurodynamics are very low. The kid gets tired quickly, especially from intellectual activities that require planning and long-term concentration. The child subconsciously seeks to run away from such activities, from the outside it seems that the baby takes on everything and quickly quits without completing it to the end.

Treatment of ADHD at the neurospeech and speech therapy center "Above the Rainbow"

Neuropsychologists of our center have extensive experience in non-drug treatment of ADHD in children from 3 to 18 years old. With a properly built correctional program, your child will be able to develop according to age, discover new talents, grow up as a self-sufficient and harmonious personality.

Specialists create an individual program of neuropsychological correction and behavioral therapy for each child individually. The psychologist also works with parents, helping to develop the right line of education.

Revolutionary methods of developing special abilities of the brain, along with innovative equipment, guarantee a positive result in the treatment of ADHD in children. Our center employs the best specialists who have passed a rigorous selection and training in the USA, Germany and France. The program of neuropsychological correction integrates sensory integration, kinesiological exercises, classes in the speleotherapy cave, sensory room, neurodynamic park, neuromaze, neurodrome, neuronetwork. The neuropsychologists of our center create a correction program with the connection of neuroacoustic and rhythmotherapy techniques.
Parents should remember that the sooner individual correctional work begins, the faster and more stable the results will be, and psychological difficulties and self-doubt will not join neuropsychological problems. But it is important that the work is not built according to templates, but according to a strictly individual program drawn up for a particular child on the basis of a competent diagnostic examination, which includes a hardware examination of the HMF.

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Attention Deficit Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (abbreviated as ADHD) is a certain disorder in the psycho-emotional development of a child. The first symptoms begin to bother from the age of three: the baby cannot sit still and tries in every possible way to attract attention to himself by deliberate disobedience.

Many parents do not consider it necessary to deal with hyperactivity in children, attributing bad behavior to a difficult age. However, in the future, the disease turns into serious problems for the student: inability to concentrate, poor progress, frequent criticism from teachers and friends, social isolation, and nervous breakdowns.

Hyperactivity is a dysfunction of the central nervous system. If left untreated in childhood, the disorder can greatly affect the quality of life of an adult. Therefore, it is worth seeking the advice of a specialist and conducting a comprehensive corrective therapy if you suspect a child has ADHD.

The development of ADHD is hidden in several reasons that have been established by scientists on the basis of facts. These reasons include: genetic predisposition; pathological influence.
Genetic predisposition is the first factor that does not exclude the development of malaise in the patient's relatives. Moreover, in this case, both distant heredity (i.e., the disease was diagnosed in ancestors) and near (parents, grandparents) play a huge role. The first signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child lead caring parents to a medical institution, where it turns out that the predisposition to the disease in a child is associated precisely with genes. After examining the parents, it often becomes clear where this syndrome came from in the child, since in 50% of cases this is exactly the case. Today it is known that scientists are working on isolating the genes that are responsible for this predisposition. Among these genes, an important role is given to DNA regions that control the regulation of dopamine levels. Dopamine is the main substance responsible for the correct functioning of the central nervous system. Dysregulation of dopamine due to genetic predisposition leads to the disease of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pathological influence is of considerable importance in answering the question about the causes of the manifestation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Pathological factors can serve as: the negative impact of narcotic substances; influence of tobacco and alcoholic products; premature or prolonged labor; interrupt threats. If a woman allowed herself to use illegal substances during pregnancy, then the possibility of having a child with hyperactivity or this syndrome is not excluded. There is a high probability of the presence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in a child born at 7–8 months of pregnancy, i.e. premature.


Attention deficit disorder is expressed primarily in hyperactivity and inattention of the child. These are the main symptoms of the disorder.

Signs of hyperactivity:

  • A constant feeling of internal restlessness causes the child to fidget in the chair, jerk his legs, wave his arms or fiddle with something.
  • Feelings of anxiety increase when adults are forced to be quiet and calm. This causes a backlash: the children respond to the request not to make noise with stormy laughter, stomping or jumping up from their seats.
  • Hyperactivity is expressed in impulsive behavior. For example, a child shouts out an answer in class before the teacher has finished speaking the question. Or he may get into a fight because he is unable to wait his turn in the game competitions.
  • Inattentiveness inherent in the hyperactivity syndrome is expressed as follows:
  • Any task tires very quickly, just a couple of minutes after the start. It is almost impossible to focus on learning a new subject. Usually children are able to keep their attention on what they are really interested in. But in a child with ADHD, boredom and an absent-minded look appear in any activity, even in the one with which he “fired up” in the first minutes.
  • Concentration problems develop distraction. Sitting down for homework in the language, the child opens a math notebook and does not notice that he is writing the text on a sheet in a cage. He forgets to write down information in a diary, he may forget his textbook and notebooks on his desk, or he may not hear a request addressed to him.
  • There is a very poor memory. Trying to learn something by heart, a child can repeat a phrase twenty times and not reproduce it after a minute. This happens due to constant distractibility: children mechanically pronounce the words they are learning, but mentally follow the crawling fly on the wall or listen to the sounds from the street.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is diagnosed using a questionnaire, observation of the child's behavior and examination of the brain using MRI.

Asking questions to parents, the medical specialist builds a clinical picture, differentiating normal behavioral symptoms from actual abnormalities, in order to accurately determine whether it is ADHD or normal puberty.

Frontal brain scan serves both to investigate attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children and to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

The best treatment option for ADHD is complex - psychological correction in combination with medications.

A lot depends on the actions of mothers and fathers. Do not constantly scold the baby for wrong actions and inappropriate behavior. It is much more useful to offer your help in cleaning things or preparing for school, to praise for the diligence shown and overcoming difficulties. It is very important to emphasize every achievement, no matter how small, and give the child confidence in their own abilities.

Praise the child for any possible reason - he washed his cup after himself, put away his toys, wrote neatly in a notebook or helped his mother set the table. Do not skimp on words of support even in case of failure, because adults quite often make mistakes and minor misconduct.

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