4.94/5
1176 Verified Reviews on
 40% off when you buy 8 items or more. Use code 40OFFSHOP at checkout.
7 1 6 1 1 1 Units sold

Key Takeaways:

  • ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting children.
  • There are three types of ADHD: inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and combined where symptoms manifest as a combination of both types.
  • ADHD in children can be treated with a combination of therapy and medications.

One of the best things about children is that they bring plenty of energy and positivity to our daily lives. However, too much or too little energy may be a sign of ADHD in children. You may have noticed that your child’s energy seems to be off the charts lately. Their rambunctious behavior may have started to affect their relationships with classmates, and it may seem like a lot to handle at home, too. You may also have noticed the opposite; your child seems inattentive, unfocused, and shows signs of mental paralysis. If you’ve started to see these unusual patterns in your kids, then this guide on ADHD in children may be for you. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is ADHD?

ADHD is a medical condition that stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the most common mental health disorders affecting children. Common symptoms include inability to focus (inattention), excessive movement (hyperactivity), and impulsive actions.

Signs of ADHD in Children

All children struggle to pay attention, sit still, wait for their turn, or listen to some degree. However, for kids with ADHD, these struggles are often more severe and happen more often.

There are three subtypes of ADHD. The first is inattentive ADHD, formerly called attention deficit disorder (ADD). This refers to inattentiveness, which manifests as difficulty focusing, listening, or staying organized. The second subtype is ADHD hyperactive/impulsive, the symptoms of which appear as fidgeting and excessive talking. The third subtype is a combination of both.

Here are some of the common symptoms of each subtype of ADHD:

Inattentive

  • Struggling to stay focused on tasks or while playing
  • Appearing not to listen
  • Having difficulty following through when given instructions
  • Failing to finish schoolwork or chores
  • Failing to pay attention to details
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Having trouble organizing activities and tasks
  • Avoiding tasks that require mental effort, such as homework
  • Losing personal items often
  • Easily distracted
  • Forgetful

Hyperactive/Impulsive

  • Fidgeting, such as tapping hands or feet or squirming in their seat
  • Always on the go or being in constant motion
  • Having difficulty staying seated, whether in the classroom or other situations
  • Running around or climbing when it’s not appropriate
  • Talking too much
  • Having trouble doing an activity quietly
  • Blurting out answers
  • Interrupting the person talking to them
  • Having difficulty waiting for their turn

Causes of ADHD in Children

The exact causes of ADHD are not known, but researchers continue to learn more about the condition. Some factors involved in the development of ADHD include genetics, brain structure and function, and the environment.

  • Genetics. Some research has shown that ADHD tends to run in families [*]. Children with parents or siblings who have ADHD are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Inheriting ADHD is not caused by a single genetic fault but, rather, is a complex process.
  • Brain Structure and Function. There are also some structural differences in various parts of the brain that can cause ADHD [*]. Brain scans have shown several areas of the brain that are smaller or larger in children with ADHD.

ADHD Risk Factors

There are several risk factors for ADHD in children, including the following:

  • Exposure to environmental toxins, including lead, mainly found in pipes and paint in older buildings
  • Drug use, alcohol consumption, or smoking during mother’s pregnancy
  • Blood relatives (i.e., parents or siblings) with ADHD or other mental health disorders
  • Premature birth

Complications Related to ADHD

Many complications can arise relating to ADHD.

  • ADHD aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Conduct disorder
  • Unstable relationships
  • Mood swings
  • Academic failure and judgment from others
  • Accidents and injuries
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Forgetfulness
  • Losing things often
  • Carelessness
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Delinquent behavior

How is ADHD Diagnosed in Children?

If your child is experiencing symptoms such as ADHD paralysis, then it may be time to make an appointment with a pediatrician.

Your child’s doctor will start by doing a general checkup followed by a vision and hearing check to ensure that something else isn’t causing the symptoms. To diagnose a child with ADHD, your child’s doctor will ask about their behavior, health, and activity. As the parent, guardian, or caregiver, they will ask you to give details about things you have noticed about your child. You may be given checklists to complete about your child’s behavior. Your child’s teacher may also be asked to participate in these interviews.

If it is clear that the following conditions are met, then your child may be diagnosed with ADHD:

  • Your child’s trouble with attention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity is beyond what is normal for their age
  • The behaviors affect your child at home and school
  • Health checks have ruled out learning problems and other health issues

Remember that many children with ADHD also have mood or anxiety issues, learning problems, and oppositional and defiant behaviors. These are typically treated along with the ADHD.

Given this information, your child’s pediatrician may refer you to a child psychologist or psychiatrist if needed.

How is ADHD Treated in Children?

There is no straightforward treatment for ADHD. Instead, mental health professionals recommend a multidisciplinary approach, which is most effective. This may include the following:

Medications

Medicine alters brain chemistry so that it can function in a more orderly manner. Stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin are often prescribed to children with ADHD to improve their focus and concentration. By taking these medications, kids can find life more manageable and satisfying.

Therapy

Mental health professionals who are trained in behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavior therapy can help address ADHD symptoms in children. They usually work with children to improve ADHD social skills, change their cognitive distortions around productivity and work, and more. Therapy can take place in individual, group, and family settings. Tools such as ADHD worksheets are especially helpful for children.

Support Groups

Kids can also get emotional and social support from support groups. Such groups provide safe spaces for children to express their emotions, discuss experiences, and receive encouragement from peers who face similar challenges with ADHD.

How Can Parents Support Their Child with ADHD?

Parents are crucial to how well children can manage ADHD. By supporting a child in the ways listed below, parents can help them cope with their condition more effectively. Here’s how parents can support their child with ADHD.

  • Warm and purposeful parenting. Certain parenting approaches work best for children with ADHD, and others can worsen the condition. Consider an approach that focuses on your child’s strengths and positive qualities while keeping an open and supportive line of communication.
  • Be as involved as possible. Learn as much as you can about ADHD. Be diligent in following and implementing the treatment plan your child’s therapist recommends, and be present in all therapy visits.
  • Work with your child's school. Meet with your child’s teachers to find out how your child is doing. Together, you can come up with ways to make your child’s experience at school more productive and enjoyable.
  • Join support groups. Support groups can help you learn more about ADHD and connect with other parents, guardians, or caregivers of children with the condition. Try joining Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) to get updates on treatment and other useful information.
  • Administer medications safely. It is important to follow your child’s treatment plan exactly as prescribed, including the medications they must take. Always give the medicine at the recommended time and dose, and keep the medicines in a safe place.
  • Limit screen time. It may be helpful and practical for children to avoid excessive exposure to devices, TV, and video games, especially during the first five years of life.

The Bottom Line

Dealing with issues like choice paralysis and hyperactivity can be distressing for children. And these kids may have problems with focus and attention throughout their lives. But with treatment, a healthy lifestyle, and plenty of support from parents and teachers, children can manage their symptoms more effectively. ADHD is difficult, but it does not have to be a life sentence. Work with a licensed mental health professional to ensure that your child gets the best treatment possible.

For coping skills and psychoeducation resources to help manage ADHD symptoms check out our collection of ADHD worksheets.

References:

  1. Faraone S & Larsson H. Genetics of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. 11 June 2018.
  2. Agoalikum E, Klugah-Brown B, Wu H, et al. Structural differences among children, adolescents, and adults with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and abnormal Granger causality of the right pallidum and whole-brain. 14 February 2023.

No articles found...

Search Results
View All Results