21 answers

ADHD In 3 Year Old

We have been observing our 3 year old for the last year and 1/2 for signs of ADHD. Well her symptoms have escalated in the last month. She is very defiant, gets frustrated very easily, is very impulsive and tests us on everything. She is "hyper" and won't sit still, but that is not a problem :0) can't ask her to do something I'm not capable of. She also goes hysterical at times when you try to show her how to do something or tell her no.

I have ADHD and my husband has ADD, we have learned to cope with it and lead normal lives without the aid of medications. We believe that each of these "disorders", if focused properly, can be very helpful. The problem is, how do you help someone that is this young deal with the effects of ADHD.

This is not an issue caused by vaccinations, since my husband and I have decided to not vaccinate our children. We have done extensive research and determined the risks out weight the benefits.

My direct question is: Do any of you have ideas how to cope with this in young children and guide them and teach them to deal with it. We do not believe in medicating and would only do so in an "EXTREME" case. In the end I think the coping mechanisms I am looking for are for me. I have learned to deal with my issues with ADHD (on most days), but am having trouble dealing with it in her. I would be grateful for any suggestions.

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Guys, keep the advice coming :o)!!! It has been very encouraging to see how other people have helped their children through this stage of life and came out on the other end well adjusted and having great coping skills. Even if she isn't ADHD and is just a normal 3 year old, the advice I have received will he ME cope with her until she comes into her own and stops pushing us so hard. I am hoping my level of patients with her will increase after the baby is born, running a little low these days, I am due in just over 2 weeks. I know patience is key when dealing with this type of behavior.

Thank you all so much and God Bless


Featured Answers

Have you read the ADD Solution. I think it was mentioned on Dr. Phil. Maybe his website has some helpful info, like with diet and different ideas.

For my son I tried changing his diet first. Really limiting his sugar intake and giving him more protein. It has helped us.

More Answers

I believe that your question is on the minds of many parents these day, because I believe that more and more children will be seen as ADHD. I am in the process of trying to answer your question. One amazing source is:
http://wholeness.com/ I have invited Scott Shannon MD to come to Salt Lake in May. I believe he understands more about this than any other doctor out there.

I am also in the process of reading several books from
the library including:
Healthy Child, Whole Child
Smart Kids with Learning Difficulties
Getting Rid of Ritalin
Perhaps one of these books will also assist you.

With my whole heart, C.

Founder of WHOLE family: With Hearts Open to Love Everyone.

1 mom found this helpful

Hey M.,

I know of some GREAT products that are all natural and safe you your sweet 3 year old that might help with the ADHD! I applaud you and your hubby for going the natural way. These products have also helped me keep my ADHD in check without the harsh drugs the Dr.s want me to take. I can show you how to get these products direct from the manufacture and with a 30-40% discount! E-mail me or call me ###-###-####, I'd love to show you what I've found works for me and my family!


1 mom found this helpful


Merry Christmas! There is a book that I highly recommend. It is called, "Is This Your Child" by Dr. Doris Rapp. She is an Pediatric Environmental Allergist, and her theory is that many children with ADD or ADHD are actually experiencing allergic reactions to various foods. My neighbor has a son who was very much like your daughter at the same age. By the time he entered school, he was out of control. Like you, Mom refused to put him on medications, knowing that there might be something else she can do. She came across this book and it was a life and sanity saver for her. There is a section about a rotary diet, where you basically eliminate everything from the diet and reintroduce it and watch for reactions. My friends son, who is now a Senior in High School, is allergic to corn, wheat, dairy, citrus, soy, legumes and garlic. She says that in retrospect she knows that there were allergy symptoms when she started him on formula at 4 months. If you check the label of most formulas, the first two ingredients are soy and corn syrup solids. He immediately started having ear infections and terrible eczema. I believe that he was about 2nd Grade when she did the rotary diet on him and discovered his food allergies. He is a normal, very intelligent child when these things are eliminated from his diet, but turns into a monster when he eats them. He knew immediately how much better he felt and how these trigger foods made him act and didn't even want to eat them. He occasionally eats them know, being a teenager, but still is very careful and controls the quantity that he consumes. Dr. Rapp also has another bood called, "Is This Your Child's World" about environmental allergies present in our homes, schools, public buildings etc. Many times the formaldehyde present in carpets, particle board, laminate furnishings, cleaning supplies etc. can cause the same reactions as ADD/ADHD. White Board markers are also very toxic to some people. Do your research and don't give in to the "medication route" unless all other options don't work. There is an Environmental Allergist in the Denver area that my friend has taken her son to for many years. His name is Dr. Nicholas Nonas and comes very highly recommended. Dr. Nonas also works with National Jewish Hospital. Best of luck to you and your daughter. Make sure you read labels, almost every prepared food contains corn syrup solids and citric acid which many people are allergic to.

1 mom found this helpful

Check out www.interactivemetronome.com. My mom is a provider who does very well with ADD and ADHD. You're right. Both can be a huge asset if properly directed. This program helps do that. My mom would love to talk to you if you're interested. She's in SW Denver. Let me know and I can give you her contact information.

1 mom found this helpful

HI, M.,
Setting up an clear plan for behavior and limits is critical to managing ADHD. The first step is determining if this is ADHD or simply appropriate toddler behavior. Consult a good psychologist who is experienced in working with young children and experienced with ADHD. You can contact me directly if you want to talk about this. I do this type of intervention with parents regularly. (I'm a licensed clinical psychologist, specializing in working with children and families) There are assessments you can complete to determine if this is really ADHD or not. Since you and your husband both have ADHD, it may be difficult to see normal toddler behavior and realize it is normal. A good parenting plan can still be helpful in managing the behaviors. Medication is rarely needed in children this young except in extreme cases.

take care, S.

1 mom found this helpful

I haven't read any of the responses but I've got a child w/ADHD & another one I'm fairly certain has it too-his preschool teacher noticed the same symptoms we saw in big brother. I'll be bookmarking this one for my own use-thanks for asking!
I've read a lot about it-especially when the nurse who diagnosed him said Ritalin to me. He's been on Concerta for 2 years now & he's a different kid. We still have homework issues now & then but he looks like he's happier on it. When he's not medicated he has a vacant look-the nurse explained it as him being able to see the veins on the leaf on the tree, but he can't tell you there's an entire forest there!
None of us were ever diagnosed but what my mom calls her "scatterbrain" I can now see as ADD or ADHD. Like me, she works best under the gun & can't even function w/o her daily lists. At least one of my 3 sisters is the same way & we all have "episodes" of it. We all hyperfocus on the details & can't do the big picture very well.
We did therapy-not really occupational, she was a regular therapist. We played a lot of games-he was dx at 5-that mainly dealt with expressing our feelings. She would make him stop everything, she would point to her eyes, wait until he was focused on her, then give him instructions. That works well for him. Also, she & the nurse both said that we need to give him one thing to do at a time-overloading will just cause failure & frustration on all sides. We have raced the timer to get chores done-teeth, making the bed, picking up the room, etc. I've ready a few studies that say frequent breaks are best-when she starts to get frustrated, tell her to race around the backyard three times (since she's 3). Puzzles are my son's favorite treat-he could work 100 pc puzzles by age 5.
Tips for you-stiff drink (lol, just kidding!). You take a break & run around the backyard. Or put the babies in a safe place & go work a crossword puzzle, read a book, work a puzzle, do something that focuses your mind off of the kids & onto something totally different-for 10 mins. I crochet.
Focus on the good stuff-I read an article (can't tell you the link, my computer crashed & I lost all of my great ADHD articles) titled either "the Positive side of ADD/ADHD" or "the upside...". Empathy, sensitivity... they listed 5 qualities that are amazing in AD/HD people. My youngest is 5 so I can escape for longer periods of time but my biggest coping skill is escaping-I crochet, I work a logic puzzle in my book...
And keep the kids outside as much as possible. When I told our therapist-she was my mental release as much as she was my child's therapist-that we had a trampoline, she said basically that he needed to "shake his sillies out" (as that wise ole preschool song goes) & the trampoline was a great place to do it. He could literally bounce his frustration out & come back a calmer, more focused kiddo.

I typed a lot.
Basically for her: exercise breaks (1o mins is what the article said), "use your words", lists-pictures of a toothbrush/bed/toys to put away-that she can use stickers or dry erase markers to check off her progress, race the timer, "focus on my eyes" to talk
for you: escape! Set up the kiddos in a safe place & go do something else when you know they're safe for a bit-something that takes your brain power, exercise-yoga is great & you can do it w/lil Missy too, but don't be too put out when she can out-downward dog you! lol
Somebody once told me (probably Mom) that the traits in yourself you don't like are hardest to deal with in your kids. Not that AD/HD is a trait, but the same basic principle applies.
Good luck Mom!

I am so impressed that you and your hubby have been able to function in what your opinion is normal lives. I have been told that some of the most successful people in our world have this disorder and it was, in the end, to their advantage. We found that having a reliable schedule and using natural supplements worked well for us with our son who struggled. The 'routine' was what was emphasized the most by our MD. We also learned that if your child is having difficulty focusing, it is OK to take a 10 or 15 minute 'brain recharge' break. This was a tremendous help with things like homework and chores. We also learned that the diet we offered wasn't always providing the best options for optimal performance. High protein, vegs, and fruits and low in the sugar and empty carbs. Our son has since learned to recognize when he is zoning out--most of the time--and is handling his situation quite well according to his teachers and others who are aware of this struggle. You can help your child and it is just a mater of patience and time. Hang in there! I hope you get some other good advice and can find some methods that can be adapted to your lifestyle and make for a successful future!

Good Luck!

3 years old is too young to get a real diagnosis yet, but since you and your huband both have forms of ADD it is likely that your child does too. I would suggest contacting an occupational therapist who could work with both you and your child. You may even qualify for free help through the state, I have a cousin who used to work as an OT and his job for a while was to work with kids on day to day living and social skills, he loved his work and helped allot of families. I wish I knew more details for you, maybe your pediatrition will know contact information for you. Good luck! I had ADD when I was a kid, and I guess I still do but I don't like people to know about it because so many people don't understnd it or have any patience for you. It is so tough sometimes.

ADHD and ADD are often symptoms of food allergies. I would get all of you tested for food allergies to see if this might have something to do with it.
Good luck!

Have you read the ADD Solution. I think it was mentioned on Dr. Phil. Maybe his website has some helpful info, like with diet and different ideas.

I have a strong family history of ADD/ADHD, and so does my husband. Our daughter started showing signs of it around 2.5 or 3 years old. I was taking child development courses at college at the time, and I talked to the professors there. Basically, its VERY difficult to accurately diagnose a child this young because a lot of the behaviors are actually normal for the age. For example, the defiance, the short attention span, and high energy levels could all be just part of being 3.

That said, it's ended up that my oldest 2 (the daughter who is now 10 and a 7 year old son) probably do have ADD or ADHD, though we've never gotten an official diagnosis. I applaud you for wanting to treat this with behavioral strategies and I agree that people with this different way of focusing attention also have special abilities. It takes a lot of patience. We have to sit with our son while he does homework because he will distract himself. We just gently remind him what he's supposed to be doing. Same with both kids for many tasks - it takes more direct attention from us to help them get things done. We also have teachers at school who are on the same page (very important. Last year, our son's teacher was not with us, didn't want to give him any special accomodations, even just more time, and we ended up having to transfer him to another class to one who could work with him). They also use little cues to help pull attention back and calm down excess energy.

At 3, you can work with your daughter on staying on a project for 3-5 minutes. Sometimes she'll just get stuck in something and not want to stop - give her plenty of warning (5 minute, maybe 3 and 1 too) when she'll have to change. Pick your battles and give her choices as much as possible (do you want A or B, not just here is A for you), but when you choose to insist, do it firmly. Give her lots of time for large motor skills play (swinging, running, climbing, bike, etc) as she grows. Also, don't freak out about sugar, but try to avoid a lot of artificials (colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives - esp MSG) and offer plenty of fruits and veggies - it may help her.

Good luck. It sounds like you already know that this will be a journey over your daughter's childhood, but stick with it. You'll see all the wonderful things she can do.

For my son I tried changing his diet first. Really limiting his sugar intake and giving him more protein. It has helped us.

3-yr-olds are supposed to test you on everything and be impulsive. I would hold off labeling her in your minds. You might find that her behavior ends up being quite normal amongst the more active children in her age group as the years pass.

Thanks for not doing the meds! Work on normal amounts of discipline (telling her what's expected of her and giving her gentle time-outs when she gets out of hand), and if she truly, truly, is more out of control than all the other kids her age whom you witness, then visit her pediatrician for a recommendation to someone like a behavioral therapist. Please don't tell people/relatives she has ADHD. If you're wrong, and she's active/normal, all those people will still think of her as permanently unable to control herself. It will become a stigma. It's none of their business.

Hi M.,
I have some info on some natural technologies that help people with ADD, ADHD and even autism. Please email me with your email address and I'll be happy to share it with you.
Take care,

Im just responding to your question how to cope with hyper behavior in young children, because I believe that all the others gave you great advise about the ADHD part. One thing Ive noticed with my oldest who is now 4 1/2 years old. She was hard at three to keep on task and was a little difficult all around. I have a sister who has been diagonsed with ADHD and a husband who was diagnosed with ADHD so I was concerned about my child and now children, also. I heard somewhere that to help behavior that looks like ADHD or is ADHD was to do a few simple things which helped tremendously.

One is to have a good routine. Have breakfast, lunch and dinner the same time of the day. Have a rest time for you and your children, whether it be nap time or quiet time. I made both of my children take a nap everyday, until my daughter was almost 4 1/2 years old. Many children's behaviors are associated with being really tired. Its like us, if we dont get enough sleep we do one of two things, we walk around either droggy or with the second wind. That second wind in children looks like ADHD behavior. True the child is cranky after waking up from the nap, but I found that after about an hour and the following day, my children are more focused than not having a nap.

Second, is have constructive activities that you play with your children. Your three year old is old enough to string beads, glue with glue, learn to cut with scissors, learn to draw with crayons or pencils and all sorts of crafts your child wasnt ready for when she was two. Explain the rules of using the objects and be right there to help and play two. Too Many parents these days are in the same room with their children, but don't talk or play with their children. So get down if you can and play with your child. Come up with stories. Teach your child how to pretend, use dress up clothes. We all think our children will naturely learn to pretend, but thats a myth, they learn to pretend by watching their parents and peers. Use very little television as TV heightens the ADHD type behaviors, I found this in a study.

Third allow your child to have alone time play. Another words the play where they explore their toys themselves. Watch the time because, children can end up spending to long playing by themselves. I suggest balance between the two of playing with the child and having the child play by themselves, which is done with a very good routine.

ADHD type behaviors won't quit over night, because once you make something different its hard at first, even for us adults. But, once you start and keep going, those ADHD type behaviors lessen a great deal. Good luck with your child, remember you do know whats best for your children and trust your instincts. I applaud your want for your children to succeed. Also remember children especially 3 year olds act up when something big is about to come their way as your third child is due soon.

I know you are a concerned parent. If you truelly feel this could be an issue for your child then you may want to talk to you childs doctor and see if they have any suggestions. I dont know how extreme a situation you are talking here but you described what issues I have been dealing with and my son turned 3 on December 22nd. He's extremely defiant to the point of throwing things at time which he is now starting to learn if he throws he loses the toy he threw. I have talked to a number of parents and his doctor and have been told this is perfectly normal behavior. He is testing his boundaries. I wish you good luck.

Hi. I have a 2.5 year old, and she is constantly testing boundaries. I believe that if I am consistent in enforcing boundaries, then (eventually) she will learn where they are and test only occasionally, not constantly. :-) Ah, the terrible twos! Anyway, I think boundary testing is normal at this age, and that she does not necessarily have any kind of attention disorder. I have read that eating habits can greatly influence ADD/ADHD. I know there are books at the library on this. A diet based more on whole foods (unprocessed veggies, fruits, whole grains, meats, etc...) and less on processed and/or preserved foods foods (like hot dogs, breakfast cereals, pop tarts, snack foods, etc...) can be helpful for hyperactive children--and really, it is better for the whole family--whether there are issues with this or not. I would suggest the book "Parenting by the book" by John Rosemond just for some parenting helps--it helped me a lot--and encourages me to be consistent with that boundary enforcing! Also, there have been some links between the HUGE number of vaccinations that we give our kids and the rising numbers of ADD/ADHD. I would suggest taking a look at "The Vaccine Book" by Dr. Sears for a slower vaccination schedule. His is sensible and less overwhelming. The number of vaccinations we give our kids b/t birth and 18 months is (adjusted for weight) like and adult going in and getting one vaccine every other day for a year. I believe that the high levels of stuff we are putting in our kids' bodies is crazy. The preservatives, heavy metals as well as the viruses or proteins, have to effect things besides just he immune system. So, I would consider, with your family history, looking into that connection a bit and reconsidering vaccines with your kiddos.

Good luck as you are dealing with this challenging issue.

I agree with a lot of the advice you received here, especially as it relates to diet. I have a *very* active 2 1/2 year old son who some might put into the ADHD/ADD category. However, a couple of weeks ago, he had a couple of small cups of regular Coke and turned into a completely different child. He couldn't sit still, bouncing around, fidgeting, non-stop chatter. I would liken it to an addict high on drugs. He calmed down as the Coke buzz wore off and I'm glad that we knew what the problem was. Both my husband and I had read about how some sodas could adversely affect children in that way. I don't know if this is something for you to look at or not but thought I would throw it out there.

My 4 year old is a bit wild too and i too suspect him of having ADHD. i have found that letting him know about activities 10 minutes before they are going to happen works really well for him. Also making sure he has plenty of time doing physical activites is a key for him.

Hi M.,

I am also the parent of a 3 year old, soon to be 4. My daughter is a live wire from the moment she wakes up until we can finally get her to lay still and go to sleep. I never once had it in my mind that she has ADHD. She climbs, jumps, runs, fights with her brother, wrestles, has a very good imagingation, and, ultimately, refuses to sit still. She refuses to take naps, and when she does, we can't get her to sleep until about 10/11 pm. We've tried a schedule, and can't seem to get her on one. Your daughter sounds like a normal 3 year old who is finding herself. Maybe she's just bored. Also, we have found that our daughter is extremely smart. Maybe she's worse since you're TRYING to find signs. Try to relax and just enjoy the fact that she can do all the things you say. I hope this letter helps a little.



First and foremost, have her evaluated by a professional.
At three it is VERY normal for emotions to run very high, for easy frustration and defiance. I would say three was harder by far then two with both of my children!! For most moms I know three was a hard age. I never knew defiance to be a ready sign of ADHD, if so, I am in big trouble.

You need a medical professional to diagnose her 100%, you cannot do it yourself nor can you decide what course of action until you do.

Hyper is normal in three year olds too. Just take her in and see what they observe in her. Diet can change a lot of behavior issues with ADHD. My friend successfull did this with her son.

As far as vaccinations, with whooping cough, mumps and measles coming about again I would really rethink now that she is older to vaccinate. You are putting her in the path for very dangerous illnesses that are coming back into society very much due to non vaccination. Putting you as a grown up at risk as well. Her body is older and stronger and there is not mercury in vaccinations any longer other then the flu vaccine. Just helpful advice of course your personal choice. She is more likely to get the measles or mumps now then have a bad reaction to a vaccine.

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