Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by extreme inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive patterns that interfere with a child’s daily functioning and development.

Without treatment, ADHD may cause children difficulties with their school work, personal relationships, and daily tasks. This may lead to low self-esteem and trouble socializing, making it essential for parents and educators to provide the necessary support and treatment for affected children.

This article aims to help individuals understand the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for ADHD.

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Teachers and parents often notice ADHD symptoms in kids when they start attending school. ADHD can make it difficult for children to complete school tasks, pay attention, or sit still in class.

While it is common for children to find these areas challenging, those with ADHD tend to have more severe symptoms.

Symptoms of ADHD tend to fall into two main categories — inattention and hyperactivity — and some children display a combination of both categories. The following sections explain inattention and hyperactivity.


Inattention involves difficulty staying focused, sticking to a task, and keeping things organized. It may manifest in the following ways:

  • difficulty maintaining attention in tasks or play activities
  • often making careless mistakes in schoolwork or other activities
  • struggling to follow through on instructions or finish tasks
  • avoiding or being reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort
  • trouble paying attention when spoken to
  • often losing items necessary for tasks and activities
  • easily distracted by external stimuli
  • forgetfulness in daily activities


Hyperactive children may move around frequently, have trouble sitting still or quietly, and often fidget or squirm. Sometimes, children with hyperactivity also have impulsivity, meaning they do things or make choices without thinking about what may happen next. Examples include:

  • fidgeting or tapping hands or feet frequently
  • an inability to stay seated in situations where others expect it
  • running or climbing excessively, even in inappropriate situations
  • difficulty playing or engaging in activities quietly
  • talking excessively and intruding on conversations or games
  • interrupting or intruding on others’s activities or conversations
  • difficulty waiting for their turn

Learn about how ADHD differs in males and females.

While society often associates ADHD with challenges, the condition can have many positive aspects.

Children with ADHD might display high levels of creativity, thinking outside the box, and finding unique solutions to problems.

The boundless energy and enthusiasm of children with ADHD can make them excellent at diving into new activities and exploring different interests.

Their spontaneity and openness can lead to them forming strong connections with peers in social settings.

Additionally, their ability to hyperfocus on tasks they find engaging can result in impressive achievements in areas of personal interest.

A 2019 study describes several ways people with ADHD tend to excel:

  • generating new ideas or ways of doing things
  • being able to hyperfocus on a task
  • willingness to take adventures
  • willingness to be brave
  • having an abundance of energy
  • having a keen sense of humor
  • being resilient

Read more about the strengths and benefits of ADHD.

Experts do not completely understand the cause of ADHD, but recent research suggests that there may be a genetic link.

Risk factors

Risk factors may include:

Read more about the causes of ADHD.

Diagnosing ADHD involves comprehensively assessing the child’s behavior in various settings, including their home and school.

A thorough evaluation often includes:

  • parent and teacher questionnaires
  • behavioral and developmental history
  • observation
  • physical examination
  • psychological testing

Read about who can diagnose ADHD.

Once a doctor establishes a diagnosis, they often recommend a combination of behavioral interventions and medications.

Behavioral interventions

Behavioral interventions may include:

  • Parent training: Educating parents about ADHD and providing strategies to manage behavior can greatly improve a child’s environment.
  • Behavioral therapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help children develop coping skills, manage impulsivity, and improve self-esteem.
  • Social skills training: Teaching children social skills can improve their relationships with peers and reduce conflicts.

Read more about behavioral therapy for ADHD.


Medications may include:

  • Stimulant medications: These are often the first-line treatment for ADHD. They work by increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain and improving focus and impulse control.
  • Non-stimulant medications: Doctors may consider non-stimulant medications, such as atomoxetine, for children who do not respond well to stimulants or have contraindications.

Learn more about medications for ADHD.

To manage ADHD, caregivers can tailor strategies to a child’s strengths and needs, including:

  • providing structure by establishing regular routines and clear expectations
  • dividing tasks into smaller steps to prevent feeling overwhelmed
  • creating a quiet and organized workspace to enhance focus
  • encouraging regular exercise to release excess energy
  • using tools, such as timers, visual schedules, and reminders, for better time management
  • employing techniques, such as reward systems and positive reinforcement
  • maintaining open communication among parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals

If a caregiver suspects that a child might have ADHD or their behavior is causing significant disruption in their daily life, it is important to consult a doctor or mental health professional.

Early intervention can make a significant difference in managing symptoms and helping the child thrive.

The outlook for children with ADHD is generally positive, especially with early diagnosis and appropriate management strategies.

With a combination of behavioral interventions, educational support, and sometimes, medication, children with ADHD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their overall quality of life.

While ADHD symptoms may persist into adulthood for some individuals, many learn to adapt and develop coping mechanisms.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. While it can pose challenges, there are several positive aspects. Children with ADHD can display unique strengths, such as creativity and the ability to hyperfocus.

Symptoms of ADHD can manifest differently, and a comprehensive evaluation is necessary for an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment approaches may include behavioral interventions, educational support, and sometimes, medication. Managing ADHD involves creating structured routines, providing clear expectations, and utilizing various tools and therapies.

By working closely with healthcare professionals and educators, parents can empower their children to navigate the challenges of ADHD and lead fulfilling lives.