3 Biggest Signs Your Child Has ADHD

Here's what to look for.

little girl smiling Serhiy Kobyakov / Shutterstock

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, four to 12 percent of school-age children have ADHD, with boys being diagnosed three times more often than girls.

Because signs of ADHD overlap with typical early childhood behaviors, the condition often becomes most apparent once a child begins preschool or elementary school.


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To help you figure out whether your child should be evaluated for ADHD by an expert, we've summarized the condition's three common signs.

1. Inattention

Inattention is one of the main signs of ADHD in children. As Stephanie H. shares of her son who was diagnosed with ADHD: "He couldn't concentrate on anything; it seemed his mind was just jumping around from one thing to another." The following detailed list of behaviors that may indicate inattention caused by ADHD is offered by HelpGuide.org.

  • Doesn't pay attention to details
  • Makes careless mistakes
  • Has trouble staying focused; is easily distracted
  • Appears not to listen when spoken to
  • Has difficulty remembering things and following instructions
  • Has trouble staying organized, planning ahead, and finishing projects
  • Gets bored with a task before it's completed
  • Frequently loses or misplaces homework, books, toys, or other items   

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2. Hyperactivity

"Does [your child] have excessive motor activity and cannot sit still and squirms and is always running and climbing?" As early childhood educator Erin R. relays, hyperactivity is another typical sign that a child has ADHD. HelpGuide.org lists the following behaviors as potential signs of ADHD-related hyperactivity:

  • Constantly fidgets and squirms 
  • Often leaves his or her seat in situations where sitting quietly is expected 
  • Moves around constantly; often runs or climbs inappropriately 
  • Talks excessively 
  • Has difficulty playing quietly or relaxing 
  • Is always "on the go," as if driven by a motor 
  • They May have a quick temper or a "short fuse"

Notably, not all children with ADD/ADHD are hyperactive; ADD/ADHD children who are inattentive but not hyperactive may instead seem to be unmotivated and constantly spacing out.

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3. Impulsivity

"Many children with ADHD are very impulsive," explains Aundrea A. According to HelpGuide, the following behaviors are all signs of impulsivity that could be caused by ADHD.

  • Blurts out answers in class without waiting to be called on or hear the whole question
  • Can't wait for his or her turn in line or in games
  • Says the wrong thing at the wrong time
  • Often interrupts others
  • Intrudes on other people's conversations or games
  • Inability to keep powerful emotions in check, resulting in angry outbursts or temper tantrums
  • Guesses, rather than taking time to solve a problem

RELATED: An ADHD Specialist Explains Why Female Symptoms Are Often Ignored By Professionals Until Later In Life

This article is not intended as medical advice. If you are concerned your child is exhibiting signs of ADHD, consult your pediatrician.


Rebecca Gruber is a contributor to YourTango. Follow her on Twitter.