Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

7 Early Signs of ADHD in Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is one of the more common neurodevelopmental conditions found in children, and getting an early diagnosis can help a child get access to support that will help them manage their symptoms and live a happy and fulfilling life. 


Signs of ADHD in children usually appear before the age of 7, and they tend to become more pronounced in a school setting. Classroom activities require greater focus than a child might be used to, so difficulties with focus and hyperactivity will be more pronounced. 


Any child might demonstrate some of the symptoms of ADHD, so it’s important to remember that just because your child show’s one or two of the signs outlined here, it doesn’t mean there’s cause for concern. However, if you do suspect that your child might have ADHD, here are 7 early signs of ADHD in children to look out for. 


Signs of ADHD to Look Out For

Typically, signs of ADHD in children are split into 2 categories: inattentiveness, and hyperactivity and impulsiveness. Most children with ADHD will show symptoms across both of these categories, but not always. Some children will struggle more with inattentiveness, but not show signs of hyperactivity or impulsivity. In this case, it’s more likely that the child will have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), which is a similar but often unnoticed disorder. 


Difficulty Waiting Their Turn

One of the most common signs of ADHD is when a child has trouble waiting their turn. This can manifest in different ways. It might be that they struggle with waiting for their turn to answer a question, or when playing a game. Alternatively, it might mean that the natural flow of conversation doesn’t come as easy to them, and they interrupt people in the middle of a sentence or point. Regardless, patience is something that children with ADHD will find difficult, and will leave them prone to impulsive outbursts. 


Fidgeting and Being Unable to Sit Still

Hyperactivity gives children with ADHD more energy than they know what to do with. Sitting still becomes a real struggle, which means that fidgeting becomes the easiest outlet for all of that pent up energy. Tapping their feet, drumming fingers on the table, or even getting up out of their seat when they would be expected to be sat quietly are all signs of hyperactivity, and hence ADHD.


Careless Mistakes 

Another sign of ADHD that will become more prominent in a classroom setting is a tendency to make careless mistakes. As many children with ADHD struggle with inattentiveness, they’ll often fail to give a task their full attention. In completing homework or classwork, you may notice that they continually make careless mistakes. This tends to be because of difficulty when it comes to following instructions or executing a plan, and can often lead to underachievement in school. 


Easily Distracted

One of the most well-known, and often misunderstood, signs of ADHD is that these children can be easily distracted. Another sign of inattentiveness, children with ADHD will often find it hard to stay on task, particularly those tasks which are time-consuming or especially tedious. Despite having an interest in a lot of different things, they might find themselves frequently switching between different activities and tasks as they get distracted by something new, therefore never finishing their first activity.


Impulsive Behaviour and a Lack of Danger Sense

Impulsivity is one of the core types of symptoms that children with ADHD face. Coupled with little, or even no, sense of danger, and you might find that you need to keep more of an eye on your child to keep them safe. Day to day, impulsivity might simply look like a lack of patience that causes your child to act without thinking, whether that’s jumping ahead in a task or crossing a road without looking. 



Children with ADHD are often considered lazy by people who don’t understand how their brains work, but children with ADHD can actually struggle with forgetfulness and brain fog. To others, it might look like they’re just ignoring instructions or listening selectively. It’s actually much more likely that they simply are unable to remember a long string of instructions or items. This can be incredibly frustrating for children with ADHD, because it’s not that they don’t want to remember; simply that they can’t.



Children with ADHD can be endlessly creative, and an early sign of ADHD you can look out for is constant daydreaming. While we typically understand children with ADHD to be loud and bold – and this can be a sign of ADHD to look out for – some children instead retreat to a rich and detailed inner world. This often means that they ignore the things going on around them; missing out on details, instructions and conversations. Daydreaming is one of the inattentive group of symptoms and is often one of the biggest indicators of ADD, as well as being a sign of ADHD. 


On their own, these symptoms can just be a sign that your child is a child. Extensive daydreaming can be a sign of a creative child, while difficulty waiting their turn might just be excitement. However, if you are noticing a number of these symptoms across a number of different settings (home, school etc), you may wish to consider an ADHD assessment. Get in touch with the expert team at Psymplicity Healthcare to find out more about the process and how we can help your child to manage the symptoms of ADHD. 


Photo by Ashton Bingham on Unsplash

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