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ADD & ADHD Center

Hyperactivity Symptoms in Toddlers

author image Sarah Harding
Sarah Harding has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000. She has consulted in various settings and taught courses focused on psychology. Her work has been published by ParentDish, Atkins and other clients. Harding holds a Master of Science in psychology from Capella University and is completing several certificates through the Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association.

Hyperactivity in toddlers is often part of a mental health disorder called attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Mayo Clinic suggests children who have ADHD have trouble maintaining attention, are hyperactive and display impulsive behaviors. These children may have multiple symptoms that are easy to recognize, and others that are more subtle. Some signs of ADHD are normal behaviors of an active toddler, which is why it's important that a professional complete the diagnostic assessment.

Gender and Age Differences

In toddlers who have been diagnosed with ADHD, the Mayo Clinic says boys are more likely to be hyperactive and less compliant with authority figures. Girls are more likely to be inattentive and daydream; boys are restless and fidget often. Inattentiveness doesn't have to be present for a child to be considered hyperactive. Dr. Greene says most toddlers younger than 4 naturally have unlimited energy and this can appear to be a disorder--including hyperactivity--but it's often normal behavior.

Excessive Action

Toddlers who are hyperactive may fidget, squirm, run or climb constantly. The child may appear to be in motion at all times and refuse to sit still. It's important that parents not expect a toddler to have a lengthy attention span for activities such as watching videos or television, or for reading books. This is not a sign of hyperactivity at this young age. It's also important for parents to understand that some children are more active than others and may seem to have endless energy. This is not a definite sign of hyperactivity. Family Education says hyperactive children may even be busy in their sleep.


Repetitiveness, interrupting and excessive talking are three signs of hyperactive behavior in toddlers. When they reach school age, they may blurt answers before being called on. It's common for hyperactive children to struggle to wait their turn. Family Education suggests toddlers may have trouble playing quietly.

Behavior for Six Months or Longer

The Mayo Clinic says an ADHD diagnosis requires consistent inattentive or hyperactive behavior that lasts more than six months, occurs in multiple settings, regularly disrupts daily activities or causes relationship problems with adults or other children.

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