It’s not always easy to spot ADHD symptoms. That’s partly because all kids act in ways that can look like ADHD from time to time. But kids with ADHD (also known as ADD) struggle a lot more with these behaviors than other kids their age. ADHD symptoms can look different at different ages. And symptoms vary from child to child. But there are some that most kids with ADHD have in common.
Kids with ADHD often:
Some kids with ADHD are also hyperactive, or need to constantly be in motion.
Here’s how those ADHD signs can play out at different ages. Explore this list, keeping an eye out for patterns. If you have concerns, share your notes with your child’s doctor. Together you can decide on next steps.
ADHD Symptoms in Preschool–Grade 2
Has trouble following directions like “put away your toys” or “bring me your brush”
Gets up, fidgets, or talks during quiet activities like story time or while watching a movie
Can’t slow down enough to do things carefully, whether it’s practicing writing letters or pouring cereal into a bowl
Grabs things without permission, like a photo on the teacher’s desk or candy in a store
Has trouble remembering things the teacher just taught, like that 2 plus 2 equals 4
Gets very upset or angry over minor things, like spilling something or not catching the ball
ADHD Symptoms in Grades 3–7
Puts off starting on tasks, whether it’s writing an essay or putting clothes away
Clowns around in class and tries to get everyone’s attention
Gets restless during field trips or school assemblies if they’re not very interesting
Rushes through assignments and turns in messy work with careless mistakes
Says or does things without thinking about the consequences
Works slowly and doesn’t finish quizzes or assignments in a reasonable amount of time
Has trouble following directions with more than one step
ADHD Symptoms in Teens
Has trouble setting priorities and making sure the important stuff gets done
“Spaces out” when listening to the teacher’s lesson or doing assigned reading
Needs to re-read information or ask people to repeat what they’ve said
Gets sidetracked from tasks that aren’t really interesting
Engages in risky behavior without thinking about consequences
Forgets to write down assignments or keep track of deadlines
Has a hard time making friends
There are many myths about ADHD that can make wondering about ADHD feel scary. Keep in mind that ADHD is very common in kids, and a lot is known about how to help kids with ADHD thrive.