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By Rae Jacobson, MS

At a Glance

  • Boys are more likely to be hyperactive than girls.

  • They’re also more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD.

  • Boys with ADHD can face unique social challenges.

“ADHD is just about being hyper.” “It’s something only boys have.” 

These are two of the many myths about ADHD. There’s some kernel of truth behind them, though: Even though boys and girls are just as likely to have ADHD , boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD. 

The reason is that boys often have hyperactivity as a symptom — more so than girls. And hyperactivity can be easier to notice than other ADHD symptoms.

Boys with ADHD often get called out or criticized for their hyperactive and impulsive behavior. They may get into trouble a lot at home and at school. And their behavior can turn off other kids and make it hard to fit in socially. 

Every child with ADHD is unique. There are lots of boys with ADHD who struggle with other ADHD challenges, like trouble focusing. But in many cases, the experience of ADHD for boys can be very different from the experience for girls. 

Dive deeper

What ADHD looks like in boys

Boys and girls can show many of the same signs of ADHD. But boys are more likely to be hyperactive, and their behavior is hard to miss. Here’s what you might see:

  • Running and shouting when playing, even indoors

  • Playing too roughly

  • Bumping into people and things

  • Constantly moving even when seated

This type of behavior is more likely to raise flags at home and in the classroom than other ADHD symptoms, like trouble with focus. So boys are more likely than girls to be diagnosed with ADHD in childhood.

Not all boys with ADHD are hyperactive, though. Some may just have impulsivity and inattention, the other key symptoms of ADHD.

Learn more about:

ADHD behavior and “being bad”

Kids with ADHD who are hyperactive and impulsive usually get noticed. This can be good and bad. Good because their ADHD is more likely to be identified and treated early on. Bad because their behavior often gets them in trouble.

They might get a lot of negative feedback from teachers, siblings, coaches, and other families. That can be really stressful. It can take a toll on kids’ self-esteem and make them act out more, which can lead to disciplinary problems.

Hyperactivity can be a huge challenge for boys. But keep in mind that some boys with ADHD aren’t hyperactive. There can be a consequence to that, too.

Because they don’t fit the stereotype, boys who aren’t hyperactive are more likely to get overlooked (much like girls are). They may not get the negative attention, but they also might not get the support they need.

Learn the truth behind more myths about ADHD .

ADHD and trouble making friends

Many kids with ADHD have trouble making friends and fitting in. Boys face a unique set of social challenges, however. 

They’re often expected to be tough and roll with the punches. But many kids with ADHD have trouble managing their emotions. And they don’t always interpret a social situation the right way.

Sometimes, boys with ADHD behave like the class clown to mask their challenges and be popular with other kids. That behavior can backfire, however. Their antics can be funny, but kids might also find them annoying.

Talking openly about social challenges can help kids understand what’s happening — and help you understand how best to help.

Parents and caregivers: Here are tips on having these conversations .

Next steps

If you think that you or a boy you know may have ADHD, explore:

And offer facts when people perpetuate myths about ADHD. Share this one-page fact sheet to help others learn.

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Share ADHD in boys

  • Facebook
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  • Text Message
  • Coming soonGoogle Classroom