Attention deficit disorder, also known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is characterized by an inability to control reactions and activity levels. In 1994, ADD was renamed ADHD, as the two disorders were merged into one. Diagnosis can be difficult in the early years as children experience many developmental changes. ADD symptoms in 4-year-olds, however, may be the first definitive signs of the disorder.
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Crying and Tantrums
Even before a child reaches age 4, it is possible to tell if they may be developing attention deficit disorder. Young children developing ADD often cry incessantly, do not sleep well and have tantrums. They may scream excessively, be restless and demonstrate a reluctance to cuddle with or be consoled by parents.
A 4-year-old who shows signs of hyperactivity will talk too much, have trouble being quiet, squirm and fidget, always be in motion, and will run around and make noise when it is inappropriate to do so.
Signs of inattention in a 4-year-old include being easily distracted, not following orders, forgetfulness, losing objects, trouble paying attention, daydreaming and not having a desire to do anything that requires continuous mental effort.
Signs of a 4-year-old child’s impulsivity include saying things and acting without thinking first, running into the street quickly without looking for oncoming traffic, lack of patience, blurting out the answer to a question before the person finishes asking it, trouble waiting in line or standing still, and interrupting others constantly.