ADHD and Preschool: Information for Parents

Many experts caution against labeling normal preschool behavior as a sign of ADHD, but when symptoms seem extreme, it’s natural for parents to worry.

deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is difficult to diagnose in preschool-aged children because many ADHD symptoms are part of age-appropriate behavior for preschoolers. Learn the myths about ADHD that we still get wrong.

Characterized by hyperactivity, impulsivity, and an inability to focus, ADHD frequently accompanies other problems, like learning disabilities and anxiety. The diagnosis guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics are designed for kids aged 6 to 12, precisely because at younger ages so many apparent ADHD symptoms are simply expressions of age-appropriate behavior. What’s more, many symptoms in younger children can be sourced to environmental issues, such as moving, divorce, or a family death.

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why many experts caution against labeling what could very well be normal preschool behavior as a sign of ADHD. According to, diagnoses at this age depend on degree: kids with ADHD are more extreme than average children and will have trouble sitting still and focusing, even when the activity is a pleasurable one.

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