As a Boise based child counseling expert, I have extensive experience in seeing the signs and symptoms of ADHD in kids. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common neurodevelopmental condition that affects children and often continues into adulthood. Recognizing the signs of ADHD in your child is crucial for early intervention and appropriate support. In this article, we will explore the characteristics and behaviors associated with ADHD, providing you with insights and tools to identify potential signs in your child.
ADHD is characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that significantly impact a child's daily functioning and development. A lot of parents ask me if their child is ADHD and I let them know it is critical to understand that inattention and hyperactivity is very common in children. We must distinguish between the normal behavior and development of your child and the symptoms of ADHD. However, if you notice an ongoing pattern of these behaviors across different settings, it may be worth exploring further.
Common Signs and Behaviors of ADHD:
Difficulty sustaining attention during tasks or activities
Easily distracted by external stimuli
Frequently makes careless mistakes or appears forgetful
Struggles with organizing tasks or belongings
Appears disengaged or daydreams often
Constant fidgeting or restlessness, especially in situations that require sitting still
Frequently runs or climbs excessively, even in inappropriate situations
Difficulty engaging in quiet, calm activities
Talks excessively or interrupts others during conversations or activities
Frequently interrupts others or blurts out answers before the question is complete
Struggles with turn-taking or waiting for their turn in games or conversations.
Acts without considering potential consequences
Engages in risky or impulsive behaviors without regard for personal safety
How to determine if your child has ADHD
Observe behavior patterns - Patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that persist six months or longer
Consult with professionals - Seek guidance from healthcare professionals, such as pediatricians, counselors, or psychiatrists
Gather input from others - Consult with teachers and caregivers
Rule out other factors - Normal development, anxiety, or depression can mimic ADHD symptoms
Supporting Your Child
If you suspect your child may have ADHD, there are several strategies you can implement to support their development and overall well-being:
1. Open communication: Engage in open and honest conversations with your child about their experiences and challenges. Encourage them to express their feelings and thoughts, fostering a safe and understanding environment.
2. Structure and routine: Establish consistent routines and clear expectations for your child. Break tasks into manageable steps and provide visual aids or reminders to help them stay organized and focused.
3. Behavior management techniques: Implement positive reinforcement strategies to encourage desired behaviors. Use rewards, praise, and a system of consequences to motivate and guide your child's actions.
4. Collaboration with educators: Maintain open communication with your child's teachers to ensure they are aware of their needs. Collaborate on strategies that can be implemented in the classroom to support their learning and development.
5. Seek professional support: Consult with healthcare professionals specializing in ADHD to explore treatment options, including behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both. Work closely with professionals to tailor interventions that address your child's specific needs.
Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help treat ADHD
Working with children I have found CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) to be an incredibly powerful modality in helping treat mental health concerns. CBT focuses on the interplay between thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. For children with ADHD, these areas are impacted by challenges in attention, impulse control, and self-regulation. By addressing both cognitive and behavioral aspects, CBT offers a comprehensive approach to supporting your child's needs. Children with ADHD experience negative thoughts and low self-esteem due to challenges and setbacks they face. CBT actively works on challenging negative thinking patterns and replacing them with more positive and realistic thoughts. By nurturing a positive mindset, your child can develop a stronger sense of self-worth and confidence in their abilities.
Recognizing the signs of ADHD in your child is the first step toward supporting their growth and development. By familiarizing yourself with the characteristics and behaviors associated with ADHD, consulting with professionals, and implementing appropriate strategies, you can empower your child to thrive in all areas of their life. Learn of the many positive effects child counseling can have on children with ADHD and/or other mental health concerns. Remember, early intervention and consistent support can make a significant difference in helping your child navigate the challenges associated with ADHD and reach their full potential.
1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): Data and statistics. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/adhd/data.html
3. Pliszka, S. R. (2019). Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 56(9), 857-871. doi: 10.1016/j.jaac.2017.05.013
Matt Schubert is a mental health counselor in Nampa who operates Gem State Wellness serving all the communities of Idaho including Boise, Nampa, and Meridian. Matt specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy with children and adults.