Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders among children. Most people receive their ADHD diagnosis in childhood and, often, the condition lasts into adulthood. Roughly 5.4 million U.S. children between ages two and 17 currently have ADHD, and diagnosis rates are rising.
Ultimately, ADHD can affect kids’ cognitive, behavioral and social development. That’s why parents should be on the lookout for any potential symptoms in their kids. Once you notice the warning signs, you can take them to get an early diagnosis and the help they need to succeed.
Here are a few common symptoms to watch for, and one or two that might not be so obvious.
Do you frequently remind your kid that the world doesn’t revolve around them? Many kids with ADHD exhibit self-focused behavior and are unable to recognize other people’s needs and desires. This symptom may be apparent in the way they frequently interrupt you, teachers, or fellow students. Perhaps they fail to raise their hand in class or monopolize discussions at the dinner table. Eventually, their disruptive behavior may cause problems at school and frustrate everyone in your family.
Chronic impatience is another common symptom of ADHD in children. Sure, all kiddos struggle to be patient at times, but those with ADHD often deal with more frequently irresistible urges. Perhaps your little one refuses to wait their turn during group activities or repeatedly breaks the rules in favor of immediate gratification. In this case, their symptoms might be getting the best of them, and reprimanding will do little to incentivize patience or good behavior.
3. Emotional Outbursts
Maybe your child is more prone to emotional outbursts or temper tantrums. While not all incidents point to ADHD, regular occurrences may. How often does your little one throw a fit? If they have trouble keeping their emotions in check on a regular basis, you might want to seek a professional diagnosis. Otherwise, their screaming, shouting, and crying might hinder social connections and even their academic performance.
There’s a reason why experts call ADHD a hyperactive disorder. Those who have it can’t seem to sit still. Whether your child bounces their knee while they do homework or begs for a break after they just began, their fidgetiness is clearly evident. Luckily, physical activity breaks like recess can help them release pent-up energy so they can settle down and be productive when it’s time to work. Short movement breaks also help kids with ADHD process difficult emotions like grief, which could minimize angry outbursts, too.
5. Lack of Focus
A lack of focus plagues practically everyone living with ADHD, including kids. Because childrens’ attention spans are short, to begin with, many parents find this symptom extra frustrating. How are you supposed to hold their focus for one minute, let alone 10? When making eye contact and speaking to them directly doesn’t seem to help, both parents and teachers can quickly lose their patience — and tempers.
Children with ADHD often find it difficult to sustain mental effort for long periods of time. Consequently, many of them fall into the habit of procrastination in an effort to conserve energy and minimize short-term stress. Unfortunately, their solution can cause an even bigger mental strain when the due date rolls around. Try breaking larger, more detailed projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. That way your little one feels confident and capable, even when they don’t finish the whole thing in one sitting.
Not all kids with ADHD are loud and disruptive. In fact, those with inattentive ADHD may be quieter and more distant than their peers. Often, you’ll find these children daydreaming whilst ignoring pertinent tasks like homework and chores. In these instances, your little one might hyperfocus on their dreamscape and completely tune out their surroundings. Sometimes, they might adopt an intense stare, which is a tell-tale sign of this less evident but debilitating symptom.
Seeking a Professional Diagnosis
While you might recognize some signs and symptoms of ADHD, others may be less evident. Perhaps the behavior you see at home differs from what teachers, grandparents, and classmates see on a daily basis. That’s why it’s important to seek a professional diagnosis for your children. They can provide a more complete and accurate picture of what challenges your little one might be facing.
Speak to a behavior therapist or child psychologist and share your concerns about whichever ADHD symptoms are popping up. A medical professional will then administer a series of basic tests to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan. Whatever news you receive, it’ll bring you one step closer to getting your child the help they need to succeed.