Signs Your Energetic Toddler Might Have ADHD
About 11 percent of U.S. children have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with nearly twice as many boys as girls diagnosed with the disorder, according to the CDC. If you notice any of the following ADHD signs, talk to your child’s doctor.
Your child climbs on everything
If your toddler treats your living room as a jungle gym, it could be more than just youthful antics. “Children with ADHD will often climb on everything, jump off the steps, and are unable to control themselves when adults tell them to stop,” says Ben Vitiello, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health. Although your “wild child” might be just that—a little wild—if his or her behavior doesn’t improve, it’s a good idea to talk to their pediatrician, he says.
Your child doesn’t sleep through the night
Poor sleep is by no means a problem isolated to ADHD, but if your kid constantly wakes up throughout the night or tosses and turns, it could be a sign that something’s wrong. “Children with ADHD tend to feel restless at night and move around more because they’re trying to activate themselves to remain aware of what’s going on,” says Dr. Vitiello.
Your child doesn’t play nice with others
Children with ADHD struggle to adopt normal social interactions, like respecting others’ personal space, taking turns, or playing well with others, according to HealthyChildren.org. “All kids have some trouble controlling their behavior in certain situations, so the key issue is how often this occurs and is it excessive,” says Dr. Vitiello. If your toddler’s play dates frequently go south, talk to their doctor.
Your child constantly daydreams
Kids are known for their vivid imaginations, but if your little one always seems to be lost in their daydreams to the point where they appear sluggish or don’t want to participate in activities, something more serious may be at play. “Children with ADHD don’t seem as attune to what’s going on in that particular moment. They don’t have a concept of present time because they’re lost in their own thinking,” says Dr. Vitiello. This behavior may become especially apparent once your child enters preschool, so it’s a good idea to have open dialogue with the teachers, he says.
Your child is always on the go
If your three-year-old won’t sit still, you could have more than just an excited toddler on your hands. “It might seem like they move around too much or are impulsive,” says Dr. Vitiello. “It’s normal for children to have a shorter attention span than adults, but most can stick to a task, even when it’s a little boring.” If arts and crafts always seem to turn into a game of tag, or dinnertime is full of wiggling and squirming, take note.