ADHD in Childhood

Identifying and Treating ADHD in Childhood

ADHD in childhood can be challenging for both children and their caregivers. When a child has ADHD may have mood swings, tantrums, and trouble focusing or controlling their behavior. Learn more about managing ADHD in children and addressing the symptoms of this disorder. Furthermore, most toddlers have a lot of enthusiasm. They are chatterboxes, leap from one pastime to the next, and are quickly distracted. They cry out in frustration at insignificant stuff, such as receiving the bright blue cup at lunch rather than the baby blue one.

And now is the time to disclose how parents or any medical healthcare practitioner may spot ADHD and obtain prompt assistance after a child has been diagnosed with it.

What are the symptoms of ADHD in Childhood?

Depending on the subtype of ADHD being treated, a child’s symptoms may differ. However, many children with ADHD will exhibit the following signs and symptoms.

  • Self-centered actions
  • Issues waiting for the turn
  • Distressing feelings
  • Wiggling
  • Difficulty playing silently
  • Problem completing tasks
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Carelessness

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms and signs can show up in kids of any age, from when they are babies to when they are toddlers. These signs and symptoms can be broken down into different emotional responses, which are explained in more detail below.

Early Warning Signs of ADHD in Babies Include Insomnia, Feeding Difficulties, and Frustration

ADHD may only be diagnosed in children up to four, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist in toddlers. Waiting too long to act may put an unnecessary strain on a child because there are significant changes in the ADHD brain that are present at birth.

Children that exhibit significant hyperactivity or impulsivity are simple to identify since they are the ones who exhibit high levels of activity and spontaneity and appear to require less sleep than their peers. The parents and other caretakers are worn out. The ability of a child to control their emotions is a better sign of ADHD than hyperactivity, which is not a sign of ADHD in all children.

ADHD is well predicted by early negative emotionality (poor response to stress and a propensity to react with unpleasant emotions). Babies who scream a lot and have trouble settling themselves, are agitated, irritable, and hard to manage, have difficulty sleeping or eating, or are intolerant of frustration may be at risk for ADHD.

Early Warning indications of ADHD in toddlers: Fierce, Violent

Positive emotions that last until a toddler is a toddler don’t look the same as a few random tantrums. When a gift is taken away from them, children with ADHD become more aggressive and emotionally charged. When given complex tasks, like puzzles with missing pieces, young children with ADHD are more likely to get angry, show negative facial expressions, have emotional outbursts, and act mean than their neurotypical classmates. 

Additionally, they are more likely to give up when faced with difficulty. Put, children and preschoolers with ADHD tend to be restless and act on impulses because they feel their emotions more intensely and hold on to them longer than people who don’t have ADHD. They overreact to good feelings like excitement, which makes them shout and jump for joy over small things.

Early warning signs of ADHD in toddlers: Emotionally distressed and sensitive

ADHD in toddlers sometimes causes them to become quickly irritated, temperamental, and even disrespectful. They may have a more challenging time adjusting because they worry too much and for too long about everything. Additionally, they are quite sensitive to constructive criticism; for example, asking them to put on a coat before going outside can result in an enraged yell. These youngsters struggle to settle down because they feel out of control.

Early warning indications of ADHD in toddlers: Recurring crankiness

Young children with ADHD also tend to throw tantrums more frequently, violently, severely, and disruptively than normal kids their age. Weekly tantrums are common in typically developing toddlers, and parents can usually predict the cause (the child is sleepy or doesn’t want to do something).

Tantrums in toddlers with ADHD are more frequent, stay longer, and appear unplanned. The child’s reactions are out of proportion with the situation, completely wrong for the setting, or very strong. The child has trouble calming down and may even act out during the fit, which can last 20 minutes or more. Even when offered their favorite item, many children will have “full-blown” tantrums over which they have no control.

Early childhood causes of ADHD

  • According to studies of the brain’s structure and function, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be linked to decreased activity in brain regions responsible for regulating one’s degree of physical activity and focus. 
  • ADHD is usually inherited; genes and genetics cause it. A child’s risk of having an ADHD parent is one in four. It’s also likely that a sibling or other near relative will also have ADHD. Sometimes a parent’s ADHD is identified simultaneously with a child’s ADHD. See Mental Disorders that Run in Families.
  • In certain circumstances, severe head injuries might result in ADHD.
  • ADHD is more likely to develop in premature children.
  • Alcohol and nicotine from smoking during pregnancy are two prenatal exposures that raise the risk of ADHD.
  • In highly unusual circumstances, toxins in the surrounding environment may trigger ADHD symptoms. For instance, lead in the body might impact a child’s behavior and development.

How to diagnose ADHD?

Using criteria established by the American Academy of Pediatrics, your kid’s pediatrician will decide whether or not your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These diagnosis recommendations are only for children between the ages of 4 and 18.

In youngsters under the age of four, ADHD is challenging to identify. This is due to how quickly younger kids change. Once a child reaches adulthood, ADHD is also harder to diagnose.

A single test does not exist for ADHD. The procedure entails obtaining a lot of data from various sources through numerous steps. The evaluation of your child’s conduct should involve you, your child, their school, and other caregivers.

In highly unusual circumstances, toxins in the surrounding environment may trigger ADHD symptoms. For instance, lead in the body might impact a child’s behavior and development.

Additionally, a specific set of criteria must be met in order to diagnose ADHD in youngsters. Your child must exhibit six or more symptoms of inattentiveness or six or more signs of hyperactivity and impulsivity to be diagnosed with ADHD. Your child must also have the following for an ADHD diagnosis:

  • Showed symptoms day in and day out for at least six months.
  • Began to exhibit symptoms before the age of 12.
  • In order to rule out the notion that the behavior is just a reaction to certain teachers or parental supervision, the symptoms must have appeared in at least two different contexts, such as at home and school.
  • These symptoms significantly degrade their quality of life on a social, academic, or occupational level.
  • Abnormalities in behavior that cannot be explained by a developmental disorder or a trying period in a person’s life and for which no other medical condition provides a satisfactory explanation.

Treatment for ADHD in Early Childhood

Although ADHD treatment cannot eliminate the disorder, it can significantly reduce its symptoms. Medication and behavioral therapies are frequently used in medicine. An early diagnosis and course of treatment can dramatically impact the result.

You can learn how to control ADHD symptoms and behaviors without drugs by going to therapy with an expert in the field. Using therapies that may include behavioral, psychological, social, educational, and lifestyle interventions, a therapist can help the medication work better and offer ADHD patients the tools they need to be more independent.

Cognitive techniques

The following list of 5 behavioral techniques can assist in managing ADHD in Early Childhood:

  • Praise and reward those who follow the rules.

Criticism is something that kids with ADHD experience and anticipate more than other kids. This may seriously impact self-esteem. It might be necessary to look especially hard for good behavior on some days, but you should compliment good behavior at least five times more frequently than you fault it.

  • Provide concise, adequate instructions or commands.

Make eye contact or softly touch their arm or shoulder to catch their attention. Instead of giving several instructions or lengthy statements and queries, give quick, straightforward directives and short procedures to the point.

  • Commit to adopting more wholesome behaviors.

If your child is taking medicine, make sure they take it exactly as directed. If issues emerge, speak with your child’s doctor. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, consumes a well-balanced diet that includes three meals, a snack, and enough water each day, and finds a way to exercise every day. These positive behaviors will make your child feel better and lessen the symptoms of ADHD.

  • Establish routines for chores and assignments.

If your child tends to become distracted, you may help him, or her stay on track by creating a checklist of everything they have to do before school, chores, and bedtime. To ensure that your child is aware of any homework assignments:

  1. Please encourage them to utilize a daily planner.
  2. Set a timer every two to four minutes to have your youngster come and see you about the homework at the predetermined time and place.
  3. Consider including movement between tasks or using a suitable fidget, as well as brain breaks if your child needs them.
  • You should assist your child in developing excellent social skills, maintaining connections, and building partnerships.

Set a positive example for the conduct you want your child to exhibit. To build a good relationship with your child, plan some particular time with them three to five days a week that is free of fights and doesn’t involve screens. Encourage your child to make at least one close friend. Parents may need to take the initiative with younger kids to set up and organize playdates or enroll them in activities where there are other kids their age. Learn how to support your child’s social skill development.


The article provides an insightful understanding of the effects of ADHD in early life and the difficulties it might cause if not diagnosed at an early age. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other therapies and medications have made it possible to effectively treat a wide variety of mental health issues in children.


  1. When Toddler Tantrums Are Actually ADHD: Early Signs of ADD and Emotional Dysregulation. (2020, June
  2. Diagnosing ADHD in Children: Guidelines & Information for Parents. (2017, January:
  3. 5 tips to manage ADHD in children. (2022, December 6). Mayo Clinic Health System
  4. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Diagnosis. (2021, December 24).


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