7 Signs of ADHD

Written by The Healthline Editorial Team | Published on March 4, 2013
Medically Reviewed by George T. Krucik, MD, MBA on March 4, 2013

Recognize potential ADHD behaviors and know when to get help.

Does My Child Have ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a complex mental health disorder that can affect a child's success in school and with interpersonal relationships. The symptoms of ADHD vary and are sometimes difficult to recognize. Here are seven common signs that may indicate ADHD.

Please note: Many of the symptoms are within the normal range for children to experience. A diagnosis of ADHD is made by evaluating the child under several criteria. ADHD is generally diagnosed in children by the time they’re teens. The average age of diagnosis is 7. Older children exhibiting these symptoms may have ADHD, but often have exhibited rather elaborate symptoms early in life.

Me, Me, Me

A common sign of ADHD is an inability to recognize other people's needs and desires. A child with ADHD may interrupt other people when they’re talking. They may have trouble waiting their turn for classroom activities or when playing games with other children.

Emotional Turmoil

A child with ADHD may have difficulty keeping emotions — both good and bad — in check. They may have outbursts of anger at inappropriate times or temper tantrums (in younger children). 

Fidget and Squirm

Children with ADHD often can't sit still. They may try to get up and run around or fidget or squirm in their chair when forced to sit.

Unfinished Tasks

A child with ADHD may show interest in lots of different things, but may have problems seeing them through to the end. For example, they may start projects, chores, or homework but leave, but move on to the next thing that catches their interest before finishing. 

Lack of Focus

A child with ADHD may have trouble paying attention, even when being spoken to directly. They'll say they heard you, but won’t be able to repeat back to you what you just said. 

Careless Mistakes

It's important to remember that children with ADHD aren't lazy or less intelligent than other children. They just have difficulty following instructions that require planning or executing a plan. This can then lead to careless mistakes.

Day Dreamer

Children with ADHD are typically portrayed as rambunctious and loud, but that's not always the case. Another possible sign of ADHD is being quieter and less involved than the other kids. A child with ADHD may stare into space, daydreaming, and ignore what's going on around them.

What Next?

It's important to remember that all children are going to exhibit some of these behaviors some of the time. Kids will be kids, after all. But if your child regularly displays signs of ADHD — and if this behavior is affecting their success in school and leading to negative interaction with peers — you should start thinking about the next step.

The good news is that ADHD is a very treatable condition. Spend some time reviewing all of your treatment options and then set up an appointment with a doctor or psychologist to determine the best course of action for your child.

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