Your 6-year-old now
If you have – or know – a child who has trouble paying attention and sitting still, who acts before she thinks, and who blurts out whatever comes into her head, you may wonder: Could she have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?
Kids are often diagnosed between 6 and 12, when teachers pick up on suspect behaviors. As well as inattention and hyperactivity, kids with ADHD may have poor self-esteem, trouble getting along with others, poor study skills, and problems with hand-eye coordination skills like riding bikes or tying shoes.
Boys are diagnosed more often with ADHD. But this is thought to be because they're more likely to be hyperactive, thus more conspicuous. Girls with ADHD are often inattentive. They may daydream, but since they don't fidget and generally behave more appropriately, their ADHD may go unnoticed.
If you're worried, consult your pediatrician. He'll first need to rule out any physical reasons for the behaviors. Your physician may then steer you to a neurologist, psychologist, or psychiatrist for evaluation. That professional will take a lengthy history of behaviors at school and at home and use criteria developed by the American Psychiatric Association to make a diagnosis.
Your life now
Try counting as a discipline technique. If your child doesn't respond when asked to do something, say in a bright, calm voice: "Let's see if you can do it before I count to ten." Sixes are competitive creatures. By not losing your temper and making a game out of the situation, you let your child save face and pull herself together to meet the challenge you've set.
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