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4 Year Old & ADHD

My son is now 4 1/2 years old and has always been a very well-behaved little boy. On the other hand, he has always been very high strung as well. Always running around and getting very excited about things, but he does listen pretty well (for a 4 year old). I am just worried because the older he gets, the more and more I notice that he is a lot more hyper than other kids his age. He is very nice and friendly to others. He is also extremely smart for his age. He can write his name, spell our names, and can answer just about anything about dinosaurs!! The biggest things that worry me are: jumping alot when he is excited, climbing on EVERYTHING wherever we go, waving his arms a lot just when he is playing around the house. These actions are EXTREMELY noticeable to others, but I notice them more and more. It seems to be getting to me a lot more lately and I am getting very worried. I do not want to ignore the fact that there may be something wrong, and I want to try and help him ASAP. The one thing that would be LAST resort is medication. I do not want him on medication for the rest of his life if he does not ABSOLUTELY have to. I guess my question is if anyone has experienced this, any suggestions on what to do, and anything about helping him "naturally"? Thanks!

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Lots of kids are "hyper" or extra active but that doesn't mean they have ADHD. Think of what the letters of ADHD stand for... the D's are deficit and disorder. In order for a child to have that actual chemical deficit, it seems to me that means he is UNABLE to calm himself down. Is he able to focus when you talk to him? Is he able to focus on small, age appropriate tasks? If so, he does not have a chemical problem that needs meds.

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Hi M.,

He's 4 years old. Period. I don't see why society has to try and say just because kids become high strung that there'e something wrong with them. Please just start out by trying to eliminate certain foods, i.e., foods with food coloring (Yellow 5, Blue, Red), artificial sugars, etc. Do it for several weeks and see what happens. I just can't see putting a child on medication just because of how you describe him. In my opinion, he's just a typical 4 year old boy. If he didn't behave that way and didn't get excited about things and didn't respond to people, then people would be saying there was something wrong with him for that. Please try looking into his foods first. Also, simply explaining to him not to get so excited could help. You say yourself that he's very smart, so he should be able to understand that.

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everyone has given some GREAT responses: fish oil (Nordic Naturals is one brand considered 'pure), probiotics, enzymes, feingold diet, GFCF (Gluten Free Casein Free diet)...
I would try all of these things AND at the same time research a DEVELOPMENTAL PEDIATRICIAN- these peds are all about the child's DEVELOPMENT.
I believe in SPECIALISTS.

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First I would say--go with your instints. If you feel something is a bit off, you are probably right. Then call Child Find to have him evaluated. It's free to do, and may give you some insight on what may be going on. Make an appointment with your ped..they may have some insight for you. If your son is in Pre-K, have her write a letter saying how his behavior is at school, and what concerns she may have...bring this with you to the Child Find meeting. PLEASE do not just go with what they have to say. They are human too, and can be wrong--but if what they are suggesting will not harm your child, I say just try it. Any services they recommend, will be free to you. Keep in mind that Child Find works with the public school system...so services would be through the school system in one way, shape or form. Worst case--you have evaluations that may give you a better insight on what difficulties your son may be having right now, and you can walk out of there knowing a little more about the path you are on.

Then I would try to eliminate the foods that could be causing this behavior. Gluten (wheat, barley, rye) and Casein (all milk/dairy type products) are usually the first to try and eliminate....Soy was the biggest problem for us. My son was a biter, and NEVER stopped moving!! We took all soy out, and he was a new kid! It was an amazing change! This is one natural way to try and help him.

There is a product called Gaba Calm that is a natural tiny "pill" that melts in your mouth to help calm you down. There are many herbs that are like this. I would suggest to go to your local Health Food store--like Native Sun, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, or Trader Joes...they can help you choose something that may be along the path you are looking for. Please be sure to educate yourself on the proper use of all herbs...

This is my advice on the steps you could take right now to try and help him...:) If I can help in any other way, please let me know...:) I have walked this path before--and I'm succeeding to help my children!

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I see you've received a lot of advice so I may be repeating but...

-at 4 years old, you may need to wait another year until he's a little older or so and ask for his teacher's input.
-can he concentrate long enough to do multiple step requests? (for example, if you ask him to get his shoes, pick up the game, and turn off the light, does he only remember one thing that you said?)
-if you ask him why he does stuff, can he never remember?
-does he seem like his mind is running on a fast paced motor?

I'm sure a lot of people will tell you how high energy boys are--and they are--they need a lot of activity and exercise--diet has a lot to do with it--limit sugars and fruit drinks--especially the later the day gets. Make sure he gets a lot of sleep! 10-11 hours if possible.

I went through this with my son. It started the summer before Kindergarten and he was diagnosed with ADHD. He has been on medicine but it has changed our lives for the better. He has not been a zombie, he is actually more in tune to things, can remember things, can talk about how he's feeling--good and bad! He has specific attention behaviors and bad behaviors that are very easy to distinguish the difference.
A child psychologist can help if your pediatrician/teacher will not. Feel free to email me.

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I was in the same boat as you. We noticed the problem with my son at age 3. It began as a joke that we needed someone to remove his batteries in order for him to calm down.

We originally had him evaluated by Child Find but found that once he was 3 he would be put into the Place program. This meant he would be put into a school/class with other children who were extremely hyper. As a school teacher, I was and still am against that idea because I wanted to understand why he was so hyper and treatment is not the same in all cases.

We took him to a child psychologist for an evaluation. The psychologist found that he had Asperger's Syndrome which is on the autism spectrum. We then took him to a pediatric neurologist who confirmed the diagnosis. My son is exceptionally bright so he does not qualify for any services from Child Find/public school.

I was against medication as well but found there is a tremendously positive difference in his hyperactivity when he is on it. He does not walk around like a zombie. He is focused and does listen. He is a typical almost 6 year old when he is on the meds. On the days he can't be on the meds, he is beyond the energizer bunny.

Get a professional opinion, even a second one, then proceed from there. These professionals have a lot more experience than any of us in diagnosing and treating a multitude of problems.

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I do have a lot of experience with this as my oldest daughter Addie was diagnosed with ADHD. It is very noticable with younger children and as they grow and mature they can learn coping skills that help them become more organized, calm, and focused. Read read read. She was a very bright child, and easily bored, she even did a cartwheel in the classroom in first grade. She no longer has those problems, but she has to work extra hard in school, and she is very organized, because if not, she would be a wreck. She has to manage her time carefully and does not like to be late. She has had to work VERY hard to be the way she is now. She was on Adderall, Dexedrine (same stuff) when she was younger and was under weight, she blames her shortness on it and hates that she ever had to take it. I regret my decision to have given her meds, but I was very pressured by the school she was going to in elementary school. The school district we came from in TX was very strict and awful for special needs children or ADD kids!!!

There is a natural solution and it's called Attend by VAXA. You can order it online or go to a healthfood store or naturo path doctor. That and Flax seed or or Omega 3 fatty acids are wonderful for kids with ADHD and may help a lot more than you think. 98 % of Americans are deficient in their Omega 3's which is great for us all....heart, diabetes, the brain development. Kids with ADHD may also have high metal content in their blood due to immunizations or other factors. They usually have allergies to milk, wheat, or other things, so maybe getting your child allergy tested would help. Our pediatrician weaned my daughter off of the medicines in middle school due to chest pain and heart palpitations. This went away when she got off the meds and she finally had a period, which was late for her and she was able to develop like the other girls her age when she got off the meds.

Anyway, if you have any more questions, please let me know, I'm not a naturopath doctor, but my friend is one in TX and I saw her and seek her advise a lot. Essential oils is another thing I use like brain power or clarity by Young Living, not a gimick, just what has worked for us.

My phone number is ###-###-#### call if you want to talk or ask me more questions, Angie

1 mom found this helpful

Lots of kids are "hyper" or extra active but that doesn't mean they have ADHD. Think of what the letters of ADHD stand for... the D's are deficit and disorder. In order for a child to have that actual chemical deficit, it seems to me that means he is UNABLE to calm himself down. Is he able to focus when you talk to him? Is he able to focus on small, age appropriate tasks? If so, he does not have a chemical problem that needs meds.

Try some diet and behavior things first and then you can seek Dr advise if you think you still need it. I have a son on the Autism spectrum with ADHD as well. He is on medication for it, but didn't start until he was 6.5 yr old. I was really reluctant to try meds, but it has been a good thing and we take him off of them when he is not in school over the summer. We also have him on a relatively high dose of Omega-3. That seems a mood mellower. It really does help. Just don't lose that feeling of knowing that something is not right if you feel it. Do your homework!

M. - I am late on the list with my side but here goes. My son was just like yours - he had a hard time in Pre-K and Kindergarten, then we moved back to GA, he had to re-do kindergarten, then in 1st grade his teacher said he was off the wall (my words not hers) she had 3 boys herself and she said none of hers were ever like him. So he was tested for hearing, vision probs etc at school, given front row seating etc. Finally I took him to a child psychiatrist. All he did was issue RX's, lots of different ones. NOTHING helped my son calm down enough to learn anything much in school.

He is now 9 and I had had it with that Dr. He was getting into more and more trouble at school, becoming more and more destructive, I have talked to him until I am blue in the face, he just chooses "his way" every time unless I am standing over him watching his every move. I have just switched providers, he is in this whole new program now. The new Dr says he does NOT have ADHD he has something else going on.

So bottom line - I agree with TC's reply. If you do seek a DR be VERY careful about the choices/diagnosis. I also have a friend who's son has Asbergers Syndrome, now he needs medication - he really cannot help himself, that is a checmical/brain problem.

Good luck
M. F

Before you start "helping" him and treating him with medication (natural or not) you may want to find out if there is something wrong. You sound as if you already have it in your mind that there is something wrong with him. Some boys are extra hyper and I would wait until he is at least 5, as the experts in ADHD suggest, before you have him evaluated. Climbing on things and waving his arms like a crazy person sounds like alot of little boys I know.

Hi M., it sounds like you have a very active and talented child! There are lots of things that can help balance someone who seems over-stimulated or over-stressed... I suggest you read the page I have posted at www.phinsights.com/adhd.html It offers a very HOLISTIC analysis of issues surrounding ADHD/ADD and non-drug approaches to fostering balance. The behaviors you describe don't sound particularly problematic, it sounds like your son is just very animated in self-expression. If he has difficulty settling down and handling assignments when he goes to school that could be a challenge, but you don't mention that his animated behavior is interfering with things. For now you may just want to relax about him and role model calming and stress-reducing behaviors for your boy, as you yourself becoming anxious and nervous about things won't help your child be calm and balanced.

Best wishes,

First of all, I'll start by saying that I agree with Fran W. (second response).
Now, please know that none of us want to put our child on medications. We try changing diet, routines, daily activities, etc. But in the end there is one important question: Does this interfere with your child's ability to get a quality education? When that answer is yes, then you have to re-evaluate your options.
My nine year old was diagnosed ADHD in Pre-K...that's how early it started! She was all over the place, talking, fidgeting, very impulsive with absolutely no self control. It was obvious to her teachers that she was very bright, but she was unable to sit still and focus long enough to utilize the information she had learned. She was tested for gifted classes, but did not make it. This was due to her inability to focus and concentrate long enough to take a test. Once the problems at school became too great for me to ignore, I finally consented to trying ADHD medication. The difference was day and night. In no way was she a zombie; just better able to control her impulsiveness, sit still for more than a few seconds, concentrate on her schoolwork and actually utilize information she had already learned. Later that year she was tested for the gifted program again and made it. She has been in the gifted and talented program for 3 years now, and is an honor roll student. She still has plenty of energy and stamina, especially in the afternoons once the medication has worn off. She is active in cheerleading, soccer and softball. But during the school day, when she needs it most it has made a world of difference.
My 7 year old is also ADHD. But instead of being gifted, he struggled to learn and to excel. He was actually failing Kindergarten because he could not focus at all and was struggling to learn to read. Once on the medication, he improved drastically and passed (just barely) to the first grade. However, he is in second grade now and no longer has an IEP for reading as he is an advanced reader.
Medication is not all bad, if nothing else is able to help your child get a quality education and be productive in the more important areas of his life as well. Talk to your dictor, get a second opinion if need be. If medication becomes necessary, research the drugs and doses and be aware of the possible side affects. Educate yourself so that your decision is an informed one, and your child will benefit from it, no matter which decision you make.

I'm not a medical expert but you should consider the food & drinks that you give him. Are you giving him a lot of candy or sugar laden things (juice, etc)? Sometimes even food allergies (wheat gluten, etc) can cause behavioral changes. Try to write down what he's eating and see how he acts after that. But it's never a bad idea to get him checked out,by a medical professional, but I'd stay away from the drugs if he is diagnosed with ADHD. There are a lot of more "natural" methods in handling it & a lot of kids are misdiagnosed because people don't want to deal with hyper active kids in school & society. Don't cave in to peer pressure!

Good luck! Motherhood can be so challenging!!


I am a Mom of three with two having similar traits as you have described. Go with your gut, do the research and dito to all who said pick your doctor carefully. I have so far had my oldest tested for ADD and is on meds and is working okay. Our pediatrician has told us that meds is not a lifetime need if you do choose to go this route--this doctor also had his own children on meds for ADHD and are now grown young adults. For research I found a book, A Mind at a Time, by Dr. Mel Levine, who is a specialist with a non for profit organization called All Kinds of Minds. There's a few others I haven't gotten to yet: Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, The ADD Answer: How to Help Your Child Now by Frank Lawlis and Phil McGraw, Parenting Children with ADHD: 10 Lessons That Medicine Cannot Teach by Vincent J. Monastra. Don't let anyone influence you into something you think you should do including the schools once he starts. In fact if possilbe have this done yourself/privately. The schools testing is not as in depth. Sounds like the love you have for him and your family will be the most postive factor in all of this. Bless you and yours.

Have you had him tested for ADHD??

Everything you are going thru was me one year ago. My son was the same way. The school wanted him tested for ADHD and we said NO. We knew what his problem was/is. He is SO smart he is bored with common things. We had to change our play with him to be more educational. He is 5 now and in kindergarden and they tested him for gifted. His IQ puts him in the top 2%. In school they have put him in the gifted program and he has calmed down a little but he is still all over the place.

Your son is doing almost everything that my son was doing @ the age of 4. Continue to educate him and maybe even give him ::work:: that older kids would be doing. It might focus him a little more and not be so ::wild::

Good Luck.

I have a 21 year old who has ADHD. As a child he was VERY active and had trouble in school. Like you, I was opposed to medication. I found an excellent book by a mom whose son had ADHD. It is called "Pants with Pockets". I don't know the author's name, but I do know you can order it at Books a Million and have it delivered to your local store.
It has excellent ideas for helping active kids cope in school and other places where they have to be still for long periods of time. Several ideas that helped us were getting the child started in martial arts, where discipline is stressed. Also teaching the child to meditate and calm himself. Also wearing pants with pockets with little things in each pocket. When Alex was fidgety he could put his hands in his pockets and fiddle with his rocks and sticks instead of disturbing others in his class. It also suggests using music to let them dance all wild for a while and then putting on something calming and let them lie still and listen to it. All of her ideas were easy and helped Alex to behave and concentrate in class.

Hi M., I have a couple of thing for you to consider. First, your son sounds a lot like my daughter and after a lot of evaluations we have found out that she is not ADHD, she has a sensory dysfunction. You might consider a sensory rich diet of activity so he gets much needed sensory input to help him calm down. A great book to check out to see if this might help your son is "The Out of Sync Child". Secondly, and I swear by this, make sure he is getting Omega-3 supplements, it helps so much with focus, overall brain development and heart health. Just make sure he is getting lots of physical activity, some kids are just would a little tighter than others. Good luck and God Bless!

The fact that he listens to you & responds well to you & is well behaved is a good sign. Does he get as excited at home as he does when he is around other children? My stepson was more calm at home but when we went out in public around other kids, he got very stimulated & excited just from the difference in environment. I like some of the other responses regarding different foods & dye. Definitely try all things natural first before going to medications. Also that is a very busy age, you would be amazed at what a difference a year will make. And he may need more exercise to tire him out a little bit. Every child is different & they can all have different needs. Ask your mother-n-law what your husband was like when he was that age. He may be a chip off the old block!

As a classroom teacher, I would recommend that you don't jump to the conclusion that he has ADHD. I have seen way too many kids on meds for being enthusiastic about life. ADHD is a real disorder and I have kids that definitely needed their meds but they were the minority. I would recommend trying some positive behavior techniques. Choose one or two behaviors that really bother you and reward your son in small ways for refraining from these behaviors. You could try praise and a sticker chart for a special day with mom and dad for instance. You would be surprised about the small things that motivate kids. When he has done well with those behaviors, move on to the others.


My middle son was just recently diagnosed with ADHD and his doctor went on the way of caution with him. He is not a doctor that wants to go with the medication route first. And at 4 that is way to early to even diagnose for ADHD. The doctor that my son is seeing has been in the field since the 80's, I have found that he is very knowledgable and I am very comfortable with him and he explains things in a way that parents understand. I certainly understand where you are coming from. My son was the same way at that age and now my 3 year old does tend to have some of those traits as well, but that could very well be from bordom. Don't be too quick to jump the gun and think the worst. I have just recently started my son on neuro-feedback at the doctors recommendations and we will see where that is going because the last thing I wanted was for my child to be on medication. But at 4 you just can't tell, my son is 6, in first grad and we just found out in January. Give it time.

All the best of luck. If you have anymore questions please feel free to ask.


36 y/o SAHM of 3 boys
14, 6 and 3

Hi M.,

I agree medication should be the last resort. My second child was so severe the doctor wanted to put her on medication when she was three! That same daughter is now 25 and doing just fine in life with no medication EVER. I went to the library and checked out books on diet and behavior modification. It took awhile to get it all fine tuned, but it was well worth it. I have heard from friends that the Finegold diet is really great, but I don't have any information on it. For the behavior we started in ten minute increments, ten minutes on task, sitting and writing, etc... then a 50 minute break to play, and gradually worked our way up. She did have to repeat Kindegarden, but did fine the second year and fine all the way through school. After school each day she had at least an hour to just run and play before any chores or homework. It will be a balancing game but one well worth it as you are not just avoiding medications, but teaching coping skills for a lifetime. Good luck and feel free to email me if you want to chat.

I see you have gotten a lot of good advice. However, I would start by talking to your pediatrician, then go from there. If he/she thinks your son needs to be looked at further, he can give you a recommendation. Or if he doesnt think he needs to be seen, then you can decide from there if you want to pursue on your own. Good luck!

M., he may grow out of it when he is older....my son did. I used Valerian Root which is a natural herb to help calm him. Also start looking at thiings that he eats, crackers, cookies and things. Look to see if there is Red Dye in the ingredience. It makes the children worst. ADD & ADHD kids are very smart so use that to your advantage.

Hi M., I am mom of 7 foster mom of 3 and grandma of 5. I would be checking for autism - many things get pinned on adhd - the types of autism your son may have would be treated with behavior modification rather than medication. But if he is quickly dx as adhd many other issues may not be addressed in a timely fashion.

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