ADHD has its onset in childhood, so symptoms are usually present prior to a child’s teen years. Many children begin to show symptoms of ADHD during their preschool years, but are not diagnosed until their school years.
Symptoms of ADHD are not the same for every child, and symptoms can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from typical childhood behaviors. All children can be impulsive, hyperactive and fail to pay attention at times. ADHD is suspected when these behaviors are severe and long-lasting enough to impede a child’s functioning in school and/or at home. Some children with ADHD have trouble organizing and following through with homework and other tasks. Others struggle with relationships due to impulsivity and problems regulating emotion. At other times, hyperactivity is the main symptom. Remember that only a psychiatrist can make an official diagnosis of ADHD.
Kids with ADHD cannot use “will power” to stop their symptoms. ADHD is a brain disorder. Becoming angry at a child with ADHD, or repeatedly insisting that they “pay attention” or “concentrate more on their work” will not help them. Never punish a child for behavior that is beyond his or her control.
There is treatment available for ADHD”. Behavioral therapy, educational coaching and (if necessary) medication have all been shown to help children with ADHD achieve very successful outcomes. Talk to your pediatrician or mental healthcare provider to learn about options.
Focusing on what a child with ADHD cannot do is one of the most harmful effects of ADHD – and it is completely avoidable. When a child has ADHD, sometimes parents and teachers mistakenly pay more attention to their limitations than their abilities. For the child, this can be a self-fulfilling prophesy. Whether or not a child has a learning disability, focusing on their abilities and achievements leads to confidence, self-esteem and courage to go beyond limitations and do their very best.