How to Recognize ADHD in Your Child

It is normal for children to occasionally forget about their homework, daydream during class or fidget at the dinner table. But in some cases, these can also be signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

If you spot just a few symptoms, your child probably does not have the disorder. However, if your son or daughter displays many signs at home, school and while playing, you may want to take a closer look. Here are some of the common symptoms of ADHD.

Self-Focused Behavior

Many kids have trouble thinking of others from time to time. However, children with ADHD are more likely to display self-focused behavior, such as interrupting others while they are talking or finding it difficult to wait their turn while playing with friends.

If your child has ADHD, they are not purposely acting selfish. Their short attention span makes them more likely to interject into conversations and cut in front of classmates during activities. You can encourage your child to think more about how their actions affect others by praising them when they wait their turn.


Children with ADHD often have trouble sitting still. They may get up from the table at home or squirm in their desk at school. Surprisingly, fidgeting can actually help kids block out distractions and improve productivity.  But if fidgeting is a problem at school, try giving your child a fidget toy to keep their restlessness under control.

A school-appropriate toy should be:

  • Silent – Your child will not disturb the class with a quiet toy.
  • Unobtrusive – Toys should not draw eyes away from the teacher.
  • Safe – Kids can choke on small items.
  • Inexpensive – They are likely to be lost.
  • Teacher-approved – Ask your child’s teacher before sending them to school with a toy.

Lack of Focus

Distraction is common in kids, but if your child seems to have trouble paying attention frequently, they may have ADHD.

Children who only have symptoms of inattentiveness are often overlooked, since they are not disruptive. However, they can face consequences at home and school for not following directions. They may daydream and ignore what is going on around them, causing them to miss out on important conversations.

A lack of focus can also cause your child to leave behind many unfinished tasks. For example, they may start chores or homework but quickly move on to something else before completing the project.

You can help improve your child’s focus with fun, engaging activities such as:

  • Playing catch – Give your child directions while passing a ball back and forth and ask them to repeat the directions every time they throw.
  • Making memory musical – People use music as a tool to remember and pass down information. You can do the same with your child’s chores or homework assignments.
  • Puzzles – Traditional puzzles and word games can help boost your child’s concentration.

Diagnosing ADHD

The symptoms of ADHD can mirror other conditions, such as learning disabilities and psychological disorders, so it is important to seek advice from a medical professional. They will use a wide array of criteria to diagnose your child and ask questions, including:

  • How severe are the symptoms? To be diagnosed with ADHD, the symptoms must negatively affect you or your child’s life.
  • When did the symptoms start? ADHD is typically diagnosed around age seven. Your child’s doctor will want to know when you first began seeing signs of the disorder.
  • How long have the symptoms been causing problems? They must have been going on for at least six months before ADHD can be diagnosed.
  • When and where do the symptoms appear? If symptoms only appear in one environment or situation, it likely is not ADHD.

Get Help Managing Your Child’s ADHD at St. Hope Foundation

Managing your child’s ADHD symptoms can be challenging, but it does not have to be. The pediatric team at St. Hope Foundation can help you find the treatment option that is best for your son or daughter. Our board-certified physicians are ready to meet the healthcare needs of children of all ages.

Call 713.778.1300 to schedule your child’s appointment or contact us online to find the location nearest you.