Children and Teens

Common Symptoms

Each ADHD child will vary in the type, number, frequency and severity of symptoms.

Early signs (Baby and Toddler)

  • Colic, cries at lot, difficult to hold and cuddle
  • Cot rocking, head banging, poor sleepers
  • Nappy rash, fussy eaters
  • Runs away, bites, hits, dominated others
  • Appears to have unusual strength, climbs


  • Easily distracted, poor short term memory
  • Forgets instructions, fails to finish tasks
  • Disorganised, appears not to hear
  • Learning difficulties


  • Excessive restlessness, in constant motion
  • Has difficulty in sitting still or staying seated
  • Has a “driven” quality, runs and jumps
  • Insatiable (never satisfied, never enough)
  • Can also be Hypoactive (under active)


  • Acts without thought or sense of safety
  • Unpredictable behaviour
  • Needs constant supervision
  • Interrupts and intrudes on others

Emotional Instability

  • Easily frustrated, tantrums, moody
  • Impatient, intolerant, extremes of feeling
  • Irrational, overreacts to touch, pain, sound
  • Peer rejection, low self esteem

Anti Social Behaviour

  • Oppositional behaviour/conduct disorder
  • Aggressive, destructive, defiant, devious
  • Argumentative, swears, fascination with fire
  • Can act with cruelty and violence, steals
  • Unresponsive to punishment, lies

Co-ordination difficulties

  • Clumsy, lacks good balance
  • Difficulty in dressing, lacing and buttoning
  • Poor ball skills, mixed left-right dominance
  • Writing at times large and spidery
  • Reversals in letters and spelling

Physical Symptoms

  • Excessive thirst and perspiration
  • Poor temperature sense control
  • Ear troubles (infections, glue ear)
  • Eye troubles (dark circles, puffiness, squint)
  • Headaches, muscle or stomach pains
  • Digestive upsets, air hunger
  • Food and drink cravings eg sugar, milk
  • Prone to infections, eg colds
  • Allergies, eczema, asthma, hives

Possible signs of ADHD in teenage girls

Here are some of the warning signs that parents and teachers should be aware of relating to teenage girls and ADHD.  Some of these signs can be found in ADHD boys also.

  •   Disorganised and untidy
  •   Day-dreamy – difficulty in getting things done
  •   Talkative – fast, non stop prattle – interrupts others
  •   Easily upset,  over-reactive, emotional
  •   Never on time, (poor time management)
  •   Relationship/sexuality   problems
  •   Feelings of being overwhelmed
  •   Feelings of being unloved
  •   Drives erratically, has lots of accidents, some afraid to drive at all.
  •   Worries about the future
  •   Eats/drinks to calm themselves down

Possible signs of ADHD in teenage boys

  • Impulsive behaviour, takes risks, can’t see the consequences of actions
  • Argumentative, has to have the last word, always right
  • No patience, flies off the handle easily
  • Drives recklessly for fun, no care or consideration
  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing, finds it hard to complete tasks
  • Easily distracted and finds it hard to focus
  • Often experienced in unlawful drug taking and drinking alcohol to excess
  • Has difficulty holding down a job
  • Forgetful, loses things
  • Slow to process information and directions
  • Careless with an ‘I don’t care’ attitude.
  • Often late (poor time management)
  • Although often very intelligent, has low self esteem
  • Doesn’t like being told what to do
  • Dislikes any authority
  • Emotionally immature
  • Hates being criticized in company