Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, in young children can present itself very differently, depending on their background and how they are being raised. Something which is an essential part of growing up includes setting boundaries for your child and teaching them how to become independent adults. This can be especially challenging if your child is neurodivergent.
The challenges that parents and caregivers are faced with are often different for young children with ADHD. Because of that, it can be hard to understand what is going on inside their head and how you can help. This is a quick guide to the role that this unique condition can play in a young child’s development.
What Is ADHD?
Firstly, it’s important to recognize that ADHD is a complex disorder that can be seen in different forms. These include inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Some kids may only show one type of symptom at first, while others will show a combination of multiple.
A common stereotype surrounding ADHD is that young children are misbehaving on purpose. That isn’t the case at all. Most of the children with ADHD who appear to be acting out have a hard time sitting still and listening in class for long periods of time. Physical movement is something that has been known to help some children with ADHD who are more hyperactive than others.
On the other hand, some children with ADHD can be easier to overlook in terms of their symptoms. There are many clinical trials for ADHD which can support this. These children will appear to be listening when they are actually inattentive. They are not paying attention, and are instead ‘spacing out’. This is common in many children, and it is worth noting that not all children with ADHD are extremely hyperactive.
Children with ADHD may experience a wide range of difficulties when trying to learn new skills or cope with social situations. They may find it hard to pay attention in class or follow directions. Some may also have trouble staying focused and paying attention to details.
They can also have problems with impulsiveness and acting without thinking. This can have a negative impact on their social skill development and ability to create lasting friendships when they are young. Because of this, it is important that young children with ADHD are getting the help that they need in order to become independent, fully-functioning adults later in life.
ADHD In Girls
It is critical that parents and caregivers are aware that ADHD is likely to present itself differently in girls than it is in boys. Although there are some exceptions, young girls will typically be more inattentive than hyperactive. This makes it easier for teachers, caregivers, and family members to misdiagnose.
Make sure some signs of ADHD are acknowledged in girls so that they can get the necessary diagnosis early on. Being diagnosed as young children is a huge advantage because it can encourage them to grow into fully-functioning adults whose ADHD doesn’t limit them in any way.
To get a diagnosis early in life allows these young children to understand how their brain works, and to take charge of their own learning in school.
ADHD In Boys
Young boys are often easier to diagnose with ADHD because they are more likely to be physically hyperactive, verbose, and unable to sit still. The reliance on physical movement can be an ideal way of channeling some of this energy while gaining their attention.
Excessive talking and interrupting are some common indicators of ADHD in young children. However, it could be because they have not learned the necessary social queues just yet.
The Positive Side Of ADHD
Something we should address more often is the fact that ADHD can be a positive characteristic in young children. Because their brains work a little differently from their neurotypical peers, children with ADHD are more likely to be highly creative and imaginative.
This can allow them to develop excellent problem-solving skills by considering multiple solutions to an issue all at once.
Tips For Parents And Caregivers
Something to remember when raising a young child with ADHD is to not blame them. Show that you are working with them rather than against them, and try to tackle problems as a team. Every child with ADHD is different. There is no textbook answer about how you should raise them. The most important thing is to support and encourage them at all times.
ADHD In Young Children Summary
ADHD is an incredibly diverse condition that should be celebrated rather than shunned by modern society. It allows incredibly creative individuals to explore their interests and consider many solutions all at the same time. Remember that there is nothing ‘wrong’ with a child diagnosed with ADHD, they just think slightly differently.
To learn more about working with children with ADHD take our online course, Working With Children With Special Needs. In addition, Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny now offers Special Needs Caregivers to support all families!
About The Author
Aidan Matthews is a Behavioral Studies expert, particularly in Developmental Psychology. He focuses on child development and provides supporting information for proper parental guidance on conditions and factors affecting child behavior.