As a parent or guardian, you want your child to have a fun, carefree childhood. If your child struggles in school, at home, or has a difficult time building relationships with other children and adults, then it may be time to consider whether or not attention deficit disorder lies at the root of their troubles.
Most of the time, ADD or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) symptoms appear in different settings. If your child struggles at school or daycare, then they likely experience similar struggles at home or in extracurricular activities like sports or clubs. These problems can appear in children as young as three to six years old.
Does your child have an attention deficit disorder?
Attention deficit disorders are extremely complex. No two children have the same set of symptoms. Because behavior related to ADD can often be confused with developmental and other delays, it can be difficult to identify. Your child may exhibit one or two signs, or they could present many traits that are all pieces of their individual attention deficit puzzle. There is not typically one right way to help your child, and understand their disorder.
Read this checklist of symptoms to watch for when working to diagnose your child.
Inability to focus
Does your child have to be reminded to focus when eating a meal or consistently start projects like art or puzzles and leave them unfinished? This could be a sign of ADD or ADHD. A child with an attention deficit disorder might struggle with sticking to one task for an extended period of time.
Another way your child can show you they have a difficult time focusing is by quickly tuning you out when you are giving them instructions, asking about their day, or having other direct conversations with them. Your child could be looking at you while you are speaking and seem to be listening to you, but their mind might be somewhere else completely. They likely will not be able to tell you what you just said.
If your child is making mistakes on schoolwork in subjects in which they do well, then this could indicate an attention disorder. They may also not follow instructions fully, leading to unnecessary errors or unfinished chores. Children with ADD may not take the time to check their work for mistakes. Even if your child is good at something, if it takes too long or does not interest them much, then they may not be able to give it their full attention for the time required to finish it properly.
A child with ADD may have a difficult time regulating their emotions. Outbursts of anger, tantrums, and even the inability to accept the consequences of negative actions are all related to ADD. These emotional struggles can appear in other ways too. Not being able to recognize or acknowledge other people’s feelings, interrupting, and speaking (or shouting) out of turn can all be related to your child’s inability to regulate their emotions.
Hyperactivity is probably one of the most widely recognized symptoms of attention deficit disorders. What you may not realize though is that hyperactivity is not just shown by a child who seems to have an unlimited amount of energy. Hyperactivity could be displayed through fidgeting, an inability to play quietly, or nonstop talking. Talking too fast, speeding around from one place to the next, and blurting out answers to questions are all signals of hyperactivity.
When a child is struggling with other symptoms of ADD, you might notice they also have a difficult time making friends or engaging in regular play with other children. Some of this is due to a combination of other symptoms. If your child is regularly interrupting, shouting, jumping around, or in general disorderly, then it may be difficult for other kids to be around them. It could also be difficult for your child to develop friendships, as they are not focused on one thing for very long. Taking note of how many close, consistent relationships your child has can help you discover signs of attention deficit disorder.
No matter how frustrating things get, letting your child know you support them will go a long way in treating their disorder.
If you suspect your child might be affected by an attention deficit disorder, there are signs you can watch for too. The checklist above is a great resource to reference when you start down the path to helping your child be successful. Remember, symptoms do not tend to be isolated to one environment, and often more than one symptom is displayed. Monitor your child’s behaviors in multiple settings, and watch for consistency in their attention (or inattention) patterns. Discovering where they struggle the most will provide a road map to success for your child that they can take with them into adulthood.
For more information
Do not wait to take action. Choosing to work with KentuckyCare family medicine in Kentucky gives you an advantage over your child’s possible disorder. These issues can be isolating for you and for your family, and we are here to let you know you aren’t alone. Contact us today at (866)810-7602 to schedule an appointment with our behavioral health center near you. We’ll help you help your child be successful in childhood and beyond.