ADHD is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders affecting children, often diagnosed in school-aged children over 6 years old. However, it can also be diagnosed in children as young as 3.
Of course, it’s normal for preschoolers to be inattentive or hyperactive even on their best days. So how can you tell the difference between standard preschooler behavior and ADHD?
While ADHD can be difficult to diagnose in early childhood, a combination of parent, teacher, and clinician observations can help confirm whether a child has a behavioral disorder.
What are signs of ADHD in children?
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV lists, ADHD symptoms include the following:
- Does not stay seated
- Does not follow instructions
- Avoids tasks that require sustained mental effort
- Fidgety and restless
- Cannot wait for their turn
How can I tell if my preschooler has ADHD?
ADHD may take on specific symptoms in preschoolers. A preschooler with ADHD may have the following behavioral issues:
- Paying attention
- Dislikes or avoids activities that require paying attention for more than 1-2 minutes
- Finds it nearly impossible to read or eat while sitting at a table
- Has a hard time during story time or nap time
- Has a hard time concentrating on tasks they don’t enjoy
- Cannot maintain focus when the task at hand is boring or repetitive
- Making noise
- Talks or makes noise excessively
- Cannot stay quiet when the teacher is giving instructions
- May ask many questions in a row, but lose interest before getting answers
- Constant movement
- May run in circles until they tire themselves out
- Cannot sit still and may kick, fidget, or squirm in their seat
- Getting along with others
- May be aggressive towards others, sometimes even hitting, kicking, or biting
- May interfere in someone else’s play without asking or grab a toy out of another kid’s hands
- Has trouble controlling their impulses
- Tends to get injured more because of their risk-taking behavior
- May climb, run, and leap without thinking, even in dangerous situations
What are treatment options for preschoolers with ADHD?
Since the line between common preschooler developmental changes and symptoms of ADHD is blurred, this poses many diagnostic challenges. Although it’s unusual for children to be formally diagnosed with ADHD before elementary school, a growing number of health professionals recognize the benefits of early diagnosis and treatment.
According to the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, children with ADHD should be treated according to the severity of their symptoms.
For children who play well with others and have healthy self-esteem, small changes in their environment may help with their ADHD symptoms. Environmental changes may include:
- Smaller classroom
- Less stimulation
- Structure and routine
ADHD behavior therapy
There is increasing evidence that treating ADHD symptoms in preschoolers can be extremely effective if parents are involved in their child’s therapy. Examples of therapy may include:
Methylphenidate is the most commonly prescribed medication to treat children diagnosed with ADHD, but it is not approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children under the age of 6.
Children ages 4 and older may be prescribed low-dose ADHD medications. It’s important to your doctor about your preschooler to see what they recommend.
Studies and research show that symptoms of ADHD in preschoolers may improve with combination therapy, which combines behavior therapy with medications.
Latest Healthy Kids News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What Is ADHD? https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/facts.html
National Institutes of Health. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): The Basics. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/attention-deficit-hyperactivity-disorder-adhd-the-basics/
Top What Does ADHD Look Like in Preschoolers Related Articles
ADHD Symptoms: What Makes Them Worse?ADHD symptoms get worse with bad habits. Watch your lifestyle so hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, fidgeting, inattention, and other symptoms associated with an attention deficit hyperactivity diagnosis do not get worse.
What Are the Symptoms of ADHD in Kids? Tests, MedicationWhat is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? Learn to recognize ADHD symptoms in children.
What Is ADHD in Children?Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems concentrating, and difficulty controlling impulses. Stimulant medications are the most common medication used to treat ADHD.
ADHD in Children: Understanding, Discipline and Better ParentingADHD is a common disorder seen in children. Parents can learn tips and techniques to teach children life skills, coping mechanisms, and better ways to learn with ADHD.
Childhood ADHD QuizFind out causes, symptoms, and treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a widespread behavioral condition commonly seen in children. Take the Childhood ADHD Quiz.
ADHD in Women and GirlsWomen and girls have ADHD, but the signs may be more subtle. WebMD tells you how it may present itself in females.
Can ADHD Be Cured?ADHD cannot be cured. Early diagnosis and management with a good treatment plan can help a person manage their symptoms.
Can ADHD Cause Speech Problems?ADHD is short for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. ADHD can cause speech problems — including word pronunciation.
Does ADHD Worsen With Age?ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is a condition that causes problems with focusing, impulsivity, and hyperactivity that affect every part of your life. For adults with ADHD, it is common to have less hyperactivity, but other symptoms like trouble concentrating and controlling urges can last.
Parenting a Child With ADHDADHD is a behavioral condition with characteristics that include hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Parenting a child with ADHD presents a variety of challenges. Treatment options for children with ADHD include medication and behavioral therapy.
What Are the Ten Symptoms of ADHD?Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD is a medical condition that affects a person’s behavior.
What Can Parents Do to Help Their Child With ADHD?Children who have ADHD can be hard to parent. Parents can help their child with ADHD by focusing on their child's strength, keeping their child busy, encouraging outdoor activities, helping their child get restful sleep and creating structure in the home.
What Is the Best Treatment for ADHD in Adults?The best treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) involves a combination of medication, education, skills training, and psychological counseling.
What Kind of Therapy Is Best for ADHD?ADHD is a condition associated with impulsive behavior and inattention. The best kind of therapy for ADHD is cognitive behavioral therapy, although schema therapy, talk therapy and marriage and family therapy are helpful as well.
Why Is ADHD Controversial?The number of children diagnosed as having ADHD has risen from 6.1% in 1997 to 10.2% in 2016 — leading some people to believe that the condition is overdiagnosed and children are being overmedicated.