Signs and Symptoms of ADHD in Toddlers

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Is it ADHD | Attention span | Hyperactivity | Impulsivity |

Symptoms | Diagnosis | Next steps | Approach


Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, in short ADHD, impacts millions of children and often furthers into adulthood.


Children as young as age 4 can be diagnosed with ADHD. According to the 2010 – 2011 National Survey of Children’s Health, more than 194,000 preschoolers are predicted to have ADHD.


However, it is a common neurodevelopmental disorder that typically appears in early childhood, generally disappears when the child moves in adulthood.


Recognizing ADHD in toddlers

Does your child have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, also known as ADHD? It’s not always straightforward to tell since toddlers tend to have challenges paying attention in general.


Children in their toddler years typically are not diagnosed with ADHD, but many of their behaviors can lead some parents to wonder whether or not their child has it, or at risk for developing it.


But ADHD is more than just typical toddler behavior. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the condition can extend beyond toddler age to affect teens and even adults. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize signs of ADHD in early childhood. And, take preventive measures before it is left untreated.


Read on for a checklist of symptoms to watch out for.


Is it ADHD?

According to a 2019 study [1], some behaviors noted in toddlerhood could be related to the development of ADHD. However, considerably more research is needed.


According to the NIH, these are the three main signs of the condition in kids over age 3:

These behaviors also happen in children without ADHD. Your child won’t be diagnosed with the condition unless symptoms continue for more than 6 months and affect their ability to participate in age-appropriate programs.


Extended care needs to be taken in diagnosing a child under 5 with ADHD, particularly if medication is being considered. A diagnosis at such young age is best made by a child psychiatrist or a pediatrician specializing in behavior and development.


Many child psychiatrists will not conduct a diagnosis until the child has been in school. This is because a key criterion for ADHD is that the symptoms are present in two or more settings. For example, the child displays symptoms at school or at home, or with a parent and with relatives or friends.


Difficulty paying attention

There are several behaviors that can indicate your child has problems with attention, a major sign of ADHD. In school-age children these include:

  • inability to focus on an activity
  • trouble finishing tasks before getting bored
  • difficulty listening as a result of distraction
  • problems observing instructions and processing information

Note, however, that these behaviors can be normal in a toddler under normal circumstances.


Squirming and fidgeting

In the past, ADHD was renowned as attention deficit disorder (ADD).


As reported by the Mayo Clinic, the medical community now prefers to call the condition ADHD because the disorder often includes a component of impulsivity and hyperactivity. This is especially true when diagnosed in preschool-aged children.


Signs of hyperactivity that may lead you to think that your toddler has ADHD include:

  • being overly fidgety and squirmy
  • having an inability to sit still for tranquil activities like eating and having books read to them
  • making noise and talking excessively
  • running from toy to toy, or constantly being in motion



Another telltale symptom of ADHD is impulsivity. Signs that your child has overly impulsive behaviors include:

  • demonstrating extreme impatience with others
  • refusing to wait their turn when playing with other children
  • interrupting when others are speaking
  • blurting out comments at inappropriate times
  • having difficulty controlling their emotions
  • being prone to outbursts
  • intruding when others are playing, rather than asking first to join in

Again, these behaviors can be normal in toddlers. They would only be concerning if they’re abnormal when compared to those of similarly aged children.


More signs and symptoms

The Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) has identified several other warning signs of potential ADHD in toddlers between 3 and 4 years old. The KKI notes that children in this age group may become injured from running too fast or not following instructions.

More signs of ADHD may include:

  • aggressive behavior when playing
  • lack of caution with strangers
  • overly bold behavior
  • endangering oneself or others due to fearlessness
  • inability to hop on one foot by age 4


Get it right

It is possible to misdiagnose a child with ADHD because most toddlers will exhibit the following ADHD symptoms at various times:

  • lack of focus
  • unusually high in energy
  • impulsivity

It’s sometimes easy for parents and even teachers to mistake ADHD for other problems. Toddlers who are sitting quietly and behaving in preschool may actually not be paying attention. Children who are hyperactive might just have plain disciplinary problems.

If you’re feeling dubious about your child’s behavior, don’t guess. Visit your doctor.


Next steps

The NIH notes that ADHD is very common among children with conditions pertaining to the brain. But just because ADHD is common doesn’t mean it shouldn’t warrant concern.


If you’re worried that your toddler may be displaying signs of ADHD, share your plight with your pediatrician about how to manage it.


While there is no cure for ADHD, medication and lifestyle changes can help relieve your child’s symptoms and give them a good chance for future success.


Healthily written, prettily disseminated …

Inattentive type of ADHD doesn’t mean high mobility frequency. The individual may not heed to the person talking, daydreaming frequently, or being distracted. Low attention span is one of the main causes of Type 1 ADHD and a concern for personal development. See the doctor.


Symptoms of ADHD tend to drop as the child matures to adulthood. At a young age, misdiagnosis is not an uncommon problem. See your doctor if you think the otherwise. Review which natural remedies can alleviate your concerns regarding the disorder.


There are 14 signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) make you better understand, find out the relevant topics to progress in development, and structure a plan with your doctor to nurture your child.


Factual reviews on ADHD is only based on diagnosis. Not assumption should be the outcome of any test result. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to manage ADHD or ADD. Topics on ADHD is recommended to be available during early parenting education.


Every individual encounters ADHD differently. Not two patients will feel, think, or react in the same manner even under the same evaluation of behaviors. The doctor, together with a panel of specialists, will assess the current condition and make adjustments to the patient’s outlook.


ADHD or ADD must not impact you or your child’s personal development. People with ADHD are not discouraged over natural means, and your life is determined by your choice. Diagnosis, observations, or reporting can only do so much. The rest of them is up to you or your child’s decision.


No matter what, diagnoses of ADHD don’t mean the end of the world. There’re success stories of physical disabilities, personal and family problems, and even people with ADHD. Your life, your story – Healthaon, 2020.


Reference List:

[1] Trusted Source, “A common genetic factor explains the covariation among ADHD ODD and CD symptoms in 9–10 year old boys and girls”, Journal List – HHS Author manuscripts: PMC2634815, 02 February 2009.

[2] Trusted Source, “Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – Trends in the Parent-Report of Health Care Provider-Diagnosis and Medication Treatment for ADHD: United States”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC), 2003–2011.

[3] Trusted Source, “Maternal alcohol use during pregnancy and offspring attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a prospective sibling control study.”, US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health, 01 October 2017.

[4] Trusted Source, “My Child Has Been Diagnosed with ADHD – Now What?”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 08 October 2019.

[5] Trusted Source, “Psychometric Properties of ADHD Symptoms in Toddlers.”, US National Library of Medicine – National Institute of Health, July 2020.

[6] Trusted Source, “Everything You Need to Know About ADHD”, ADHD Health Topics, 13 June 2019.

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