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Understanding Children With ADHD

Living With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

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Updated December 24, 2013

Understanding Children With ADHD

Difficulties with concentration, mental focus, and being able to stop and think before reacting can make life pretty tough for children with ADHD.

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In general, young children tend to be active, rambunctious, and impulsive. They often play loudly and love to climb and run. They squirm and fidget and would much rather be up and out, exploring the world around them. It is not unusual for kids to have trouble listening, remembering, and following directions. Parents all over the world feel frustration at one time or another about the need to remind their child to do something and the child simply forgetting or getting distracted by another, more interesting activity. Many kids are also careless and lose things and have difficulty waiting their turn. This is all a normal part of being a child.

Children With ADHD

For a child with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, these behaviors and challenges are tremendously amplified. The symptoms of ADHD are pervasive, chronic and disruptive and cause significant problems for the child at school, home, and with friends. Symptoms must have been present for at least six months to a point that is disruptive and inappropriate for the child’s developmental level. In other words, the impairments are far greater than in other children of the same age. Learn more about the ADHD diagnosis.

Children with ADHD can become frustrated and overwhelmed very easily, have trouble regulating their emotions, struggle with executive function issues – for example, have great difficulty planning, prioritizing, paying attention and remembering details. They also tend to be less mature developmentally. Some children with ADHD are very charismatic, personable, and popular. For many others, however, behavior problems result in rejection, isolation, and plunging self esteem.

What's It Like for a Child With ADHD

It can be tough living with ADHD. For the child there can be a spectrum of feelings - frustration, feeling lost and disconnected or confused at times, feeling overcharged and uncomfortable restlessness, feeling a lack of control - and a child’s self image can certainly take a beating. It is helpful for these kids to understand what ADHD is, and what it is not. So often children with ADHD run up against negative labels that are inaccurate and they may begin to feel like “the bad kid” or “lazy” or “dumb” when this is not true at all. Understanding more about ADHD and how it affects a child individually can be empowering to that child. Because then the child can work with his or her parents and teachers to develop coping strategies that work for him (or her). In this way the child can also find their areas of strength and build upon those areas - self esteem grows and the child can finally see themselves in a more positive, more capable, and more accurate light.

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