ADHD in Toddlers

By Eileen Bailey

Toddlers are known for having short attention spans and acting without thinking, they often become overly excited and are full of energy. All of these characteristics could also be symptoms of ADHD. The “terrible twos” are quite similar to ADHD.


Because of this, ADHD is not often diagnosed in toddlers. Many doctors, instead, will “wait and see” what happens as a child grows and matures. Once a child enters school and is required to show more responsibility and to complete tasks within an allotted amount of time, symptoms of ADHD may be more pronounced and easier to recognize. Some children have been diagnosed as early as two years old, but this is not very common.


Some of the ways ADHD develops in toddlers:




Toddlers are extremely active, however, toddlers with ADHD are always in motion. They may rarely sit down and resist being still, even for a moment. They are constantly running, jumping or otherwise in continuous motion. They are often too busy to stop to eat or and will get up over and over from any activity that requires them to sit for more than a minute or two.


Toddlers with ADHD can become over-stimulated and overexcited easily but it can take a long period of time for them to calm back down after this. In situations with a lot of stimulation, they can become impossible to control, hitting, crying or screaming.


Many times, toddlers with ADHD will be up early in the morning and still be ready to play late at night. Some toddlers with ADHD will give up napping or take short catnaps during the day. Sleep problems tend to worsen symptoms of ADHD, causing both parent and child to become irritable.




Impulsiveness is another typical characteristic of toddlers, but magnified in children with ADHD. The toddler with ADHD may jump off playground equipment, jump from windows and run into the street. Toddlers with ADHD cannot be left unsupervised, even for a moment. According to, toddlers with ADHD “take more than their share of cleaning product overdoses, experience more accidental falls, break more toys and run into the road more frequently”

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