Your child's difficulty to remain still or pay attention for an extended time could be just typical young child's behavior, or it could be a sign of attention deficit disorder. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference.


You've probably heard a lot about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is also sometimes called Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Both names refer to the same condition that typically appears in children around the age of four and causes much distress for them, their classmates, teachers and families.

Attention deficit disorder is described by experts as a brain imbalance that makes it difficult for a child to process information and stimulation properly, causing a wide range of related symptoms. These include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Susceptibility to be distracted
  • Inability to sit still
  • Tendency to interrupt others
  • Impatience waiting in line
  • Problem following directions
  • Engaging in dangerous activities and taking unnecessary risks

Children with attention deficit can show signs of some, or all, of these and other behaviors. It is also interesting to note that boys are about three times more likely than girls to suffer from this condition.

For children who have attention deficit disorder, the difficulties it causes in the classroom and in social situations can take a toll on a child's self esteem. Some kids who suffer from this condition become anxious or depressed if they don't receive help managing the symptoms.[i]


If you suspect your child could have attention deficit disorder, you might want to meet with your pediatrician and/or a mental health professional to have a thorough evaluation done and confirm whether this is indeed a problem and if so, how best to respond to it. Keep in mind that the signs of attention deficit can appear differently in each child and therefore can take quite a while to diagnose properly. This can often be a process that occurs over several months and also requires ruling out other conditions that cause similar symptoms.[ii] Often a team approach is needed, with your family, teachers, and medical professionals working together to get a clear picture of how your child responds in a variety of different situations.

Treatment Options

You can't cure attention deficit disorder but with professional guidance, there are things you can do to help manage your child's symptoms. Your doctor can work with you to develop a long-term plan that could include a combination of behavior modification techniques and medication. Your family's support is also an essential part of helping your child overcome the challenges inherent in attention deficit disorder. With the right supports in place, your child can learn how to successfully navigate his or her activities every day.[iii]