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How to Recognize ADHD Symptoms in Children

Is your child high spirited and unfocused -- or suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder? These ADHD guidelines will help you decide if a checkup is in order.


  • Step 1: Note their attention span Note their capacity for concentrating. Most young children have short attention spans, but those with ADHD don't seem to be listening even when they're spoken to. They frequently lose things; have difficult following instructions; and often make careless mistakes.
  • Step 2: Rate their hyperactivity Recognize if their energy level seems excessive, even for a child. Are they unable to sit without fidgeting? Do they get in trouble at school for leaving their seat, or running and climbing excessively or inappropriately? Do they talk incessantly? Interrupt constantly?
  • TIP: Some children are more inattentive than hyperactive, and vice versa. Girls are more likely to have more attention problems, while boys more often fall into the hyperactive category.
  • Step 3: Think how long it's lasted Consider how long the behavior has been going on. If you've observed symptoms for more than six months, it might be ADHD.
  • Step 4: Consider where it occurs Note where their behavior takes place. If it's only at home, or only at school, something other than ADHD may be to blame for their symptoms.
  • Step 5: Gauge the seriousness Gauge the seriousness of the problem. Children with ADHD are regularly disruptive at school and at home. Their behavior causes problems in their relationships with both adults and other children.
  • Step 6: See the doctor If you recognize any of these symptoms in your child, take them to your pediatrician. It's important that they have a medical checkup to rule out other causes for their behavior before ADHD is diagnosed.
  • FACT: Children whose mothers had smoked while pregnant were more than twice as likely to have ADHD as children whose mothers did not smoke.

You Will Need

  • Behavior analysis
  • Time frame
  • Pediatrician visit

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