When kids are 3 or 4 years old they often have trouble paying attention, but for some, this could be an early indication of trouble down the road. Around one in 11 school-aged children are now diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but as many as 40% show warning signs much sooner – as early as age 4.
Mark Mahone, Ph.D., director of neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, encourages parents to watch their young children’s behavior closely, as kids whose symptoms of ADHD begin in early childhood are at the highest risk for academic problems, including grade repetition.
Take note if your 3- to 4-year-old:
1. dislikes or avoids activities that require paying attention for more than one or two minutes;
2. loses interest and starts doing something else after engaging in an activity for a few moments;
3. talks a lot more and makes more noise than other children of the same age;
4. climbs on things when instructed not to do so;
5. cannot hop on one foot by age 4;
6. is nearly always restless, wanting to constantly kick or jiggle feet or twist around in his or her seat, or insists that he or she “must” get up after being seated more than a few minutes;
7. gets into dangerous situations because of fearlessness;
8. warms up too quickly to strangers;
9. is frequently aggressive with playmates, or has been removed from preschool or daycare because of aggression;
10. has been injured (received stitches or needed medical attention) because of moving too fast or running when instructed not to do so.
All of these signs have been associated with diagnoses of ADHD at school age, and parents who notice them in their child should consult their pediatrician or another developmental expert.