22 answers

My Daughter May Be ADHD:(

Help! My 4 year old daughter is getting out of control. She is very active, does not sit still, does not nap, will not go to bed until approx. 11:00pm sometimes 11:30! She was kicked out of her daycare once already for behavioral problems. The doctor said she may be ADHD. It is making me extremely extremely depressed and making me feel that I am not doing my job as a mother right, but in the same breath my other daughter who is 15 years old is a straight A student who will be attending a for a 6 week program in the summer for extra education. So I know I'm doing something right. But What am I doing wrong??? Any responses are greatly appreciated!!!

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

It could also be sensory integration dysfunction. It sounds exactly how my son was a few years ago. We had Early Intervention out and they did OT with him. He is SO much better now, not perfect. We still have issues but no where near how bad it was.
I suggest you google it and read up on it to see if maybe it applies. You can also read The Out Of Sync Child. It is a book about Sensory issues in children. A lot of children get misdiagnosed with ADHD just because small time doctors do not know much about it.

2 moms found this helpful

First of all you are not doing anything wrong. It is something tht just happened but she needs help so i would take her and get the help she needs. ADHD children are very responsive once they are on the medication adn you will be able to handle her better. But it is also controled by her diet so chaeck in to a web site abut the child's diet with ADHD. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

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Hi K.!

First of all I DO know what you are going through! My granddaughter (3) is the same way, and my daughter has suggested that I give you some valuable advice.
DO Not Medicate! No matter what any doctor will tell you the psycological effects are irriversable, because mainly these drugs interfere with the brain chemistry. We know of one friend whos daughter now suffers from tremors as a result of these drugs.
More than 50% of the children today are "diagnosed" ADHD. What does this tell us? It tells us that the children are "evolving", and the "system" is not. What is really going on here is that these children are "multidimensional", they are capable of learning at an incredible rate, and learning many things at the same time, which is why they cannot sit still, and get bored very easily.
I am a healer, and I know this to be true. There is NO Fault that is yours. The established school systems need to re evaluate and evolve with these remarkable children.
To learn more, google in "new children", "Indigo's". You will learn that these children are here to change the current structure of education. It's fun to learn how to interact in a new way with them, and believe me, your daughter will know that you are trying.
Another thing that my daughter want to let you know, and this may also be a bit of a challenge in these busy times, but if you can spend one hour of time completely devoted to your child, this will really help...just you and her...no phone, no other person, no TV (maybe a movie together),in giving her a bath, you get in the tub with her too (I do this now) this has helped us over here.
Also I include my GD in activities that I do as much as I can. She appreciates being involved, and she is learning at the same time.
Some say that diet plays an importnat role here too.There are books to help you with this...seek and find!
I hope this helps...really I do.. You are doing a fine job, this one just needs something a little different!
Love and Blessings,

2 moms found this helpful

ADHD doesn't appear because of poor parenting...it's a chemical and physical thing. ADHD symptoms can be controlled with good parenting techniques...but you don't 'cause' a child to have ADHD. Please know that. I am a special education teacher.
Kids with ADHD need consistency, more so than other kids. They also need to know consequences right up front ("if you do this, then this is exactly what is going to happen"). Making little charts for her behavior, using stickers and positive reinforcement should help. Giving her a goal (and start small, since she is so young) to work towards...with a fair reward (ie: make a sticker chart for brushing teeth-this is just an example-for every time she brushes her teeth, she gets a sticker on her chart. When she gets 5 stickers or however many you set the goal to be, she earns a reward-computer time is a huge reward in my house, so are Jr.Frosty's from Wendy's, lol). When she meets with success, up the goal a little. That makes it a game for her and she can see how close she is to meeting her goal.
Using a timer also works well...kids with ADHD distract very easily-I use a timer at school with my students...so they know exactly how much time they have left to complete a task. She is a bit young to grasp the concept of time, but if you start doing it consistently, she will start to develop an idea of how long a minute is, etc. I use the timer for time-outs...for how long we are going to do something, and when it dings, we're done...I also use it for "you need to have your dinner done by the timer the timer dings, or you will not have that piece of cake you want" and that does the trick.
Whatever you do-stick with it. Consistency is what she needs...if you're a softie and give in (like I used to be, lol)...she will keep pushing until you give in.
When you lay down stuff like this-it does get worse before it gets better-because they want to test you...hold your ground...they are SO stubborn at this age-ADHD or not! My 4 year old is giving me a run for my money lately! Good luck and hang in there. You are not doing anything wrong...a true ADHD kid does not have the self-control the rest of us do-and that has to do with her body makeup, and NOTHING to do with your parenting style!

2 moms found this helpful

Hi K.,
Don't beat yourself up. Parenting is not an easy task and each kid so different. You basically have to figure out what works for each child. I have a 9 year old daughter who is an excellent student and well-behaved and a 4-year-old that sounds a lot like your daughter. It has been a learning process. My son never wants to go sleep and is full speed ahead until he finally does go to sleep. It is frustrating because I don't have any time to myself to unwind.

One thing that I did learn about him early on is to watch his diet. His behavior skyrockets when he eats foods with red dye. (Some kids also have problems with yellow #5).This is very limiting because red dye is everything from certain pancake mixes to candy. I first noticed the behavior change whenever I gave him grape or cherry cold medicine.

I also monitor his sugar intake. I talked to his pediatrician about ADHD, but she stated that he is able to concentrate on some tasks so he is not ADHD. I also realized that he likes to draw pictures and is very detailed at it, so when he mixes up a lot, I give him paper and a pencil and he sits and draws for long periods of time.

He is still very difficult at times, but doing these few things have helped a lot.

2 moms found this helpful

It could also be sensory integration dysfunction. It sounds exactly how my son was a few years ago. We had Early Intervention out and they did OT with him. He is SO much better now, not perfect. We still have issues but no where near how bad it was.
I suggest you google it and read up on it to see if maybe it applies. You can also read The Out Of Sync Child. It is a book about Sensory issues in children. A lot of children get misdiagnosed with ADHD just because small time doctors do not know much about it.

2 moms found this helpful

My primary care treats this naturally and is VERY good at what she does. I highly recommend her for a consult, she is in NJ but allows for alot of follow up phone consults and emails, so it really is worth it! Her website is www.holisticfamilyhealthcarepc.com and you can even email her ahead of time and ask questions if you'd like. She treats it drug-free!! hth!

2 moms found this helpful


Get the diagnosis and then get the help you and your daughter need.

The responses about the sleep methods will be useless if your daughter has ADHD or SPD.

My daughter (age 4) is SPD, my nephew (age 13) is ADHD diagnosed when he was 6. There are no meds for SPD but therapy works well (OT).

Contact the Child Development Unit of your local hospital for an appointment. The local IU (in PA) can do some diagnosis but not ADHD or SPD, they are limited to school-related issues. All of these appts take time to get. I had to wait months.

In short, find out what it is and then treat it. And yes, to all of you people out there, I tried the diet - behavior modification thing as did my sister but the scientific truth is SPD is caused by lack of mylenization in to the neural pathways necessary to process sensory input and no diet is going to change that.

Good luck. You are not a failure and you are not alone.

2 moms found this helpful

If your daughter has ADHD it is not because you are a bad parent. It's not taught...it's biological. She can't help it any more than you can. Please don't do that to yourself. It won't help anyone. You are not doing anything wrong.

Now what you need to do is get your girlie some help. Unfortunately Autism is my area, but there's got to be someone here who can tell you how to help her. I would also be careful to get a good, thorough evaluation by an Occupational Therapist. Alot of children get the ADHD diagnosis when in fact they are dealing with Sensory Processing Disorder. They have a lot of the same symptoms. A great book you can read is The Out of Sync child...but for immediate help google Sensory Processing Disorder or Sensory Integration Dysfunction. You will find lists of symptoms and you can see if they fit your daughter.

Please, please, DO NOT beat yourself up. I did that for a year, and completely isolated myself and ended up majorly depressed and sick. You did a great thing by reaching out here. Keep it going. There are Yahoo! Groups for moms with kids who have ADHD and Sensory Processing disorder...get in touch with other moms who can help you. That is the best thing you can do for yourself and both of your daughters...

God Bless!!!

1 mom found this helpful

HI K., The first thing I noticed is that you say she is "getting out of control" so this hasn't been an on-going problem it's one that has been evolving? If it is one that is evolving then your answer may be in changing your daughter's diet. Removing as much sugar and caffeine from her diet and increasing protien and veggies should have a calming effect on her (it will take a few weeks however). Watch what fruit you give her (some are more loaded with sugar than you realize) as well. Keep to a strict routine and hang in there! You are not the problem!! Follow your instincts and don't let "them" lable or drug your daughter un-nessessarily!! Lables and drugs have become overused and abused and many professionals have been using them instead of really finding out what, if anything, is actually going on. Best wishes.

1 mom found this helpful

Hello. Blessings..
Cut out sweets..or cut down
One on one time? how much does she get with you and her father?
Are you doing hands on things with her...
enough outside time...
these are some thing I myself ask myself on a regular basis....
Have you read the love language book..for children..a must have....
I have an extremely active 3 year old...i also have problems with naps...
I am now trying to find his little nitches...things he really likes to do...then work on those thing with him..help him to focus on those things..develope in those things..an example ..if you know she likes to color...try to come up with creative ways to color..make booklets for her...photocolor things you know she likes and have her color them..then have some mommy daughter time..making a frame...out of popsicle sticks..and hanging it up..in a place everyone can see it..so she feels special and important.
They crave..long for.....consistancy too ....I know that is why my little guy is out of control most of the time.....I am trying to get him on a very rigid schedule...it will benefit him..now as well as equipt him to be a responsible adult..
spend lots of time with your child..lots of hugs and kisses..and tell them constantly how special they are!!!


When I have a few good day of a set shedule with my son he does exceptional...it's like night and day...its tough but so worth it....Remember you are a forming her future..it's all in your hands..with the help of God. :) and remember you are her mom and God has given you every tool you need to raise her....don't beat yourself up..You can do it..and don't fall into the adhd..trap...lots of prayer and spending quality time with her......the results will be ever so rewarding....she's a sponge trying to take all she can in....she is gonna be a smart one..hope that was of some help......It's 1am..I better get some zzzzzz's T.

1 mom found this helpful

The first thing you need to do is not allow yourself to believe for one minute that you are doing something wrong. There are many things that happen to our children regardless of what kind of parents we are. I know this from experience. The key is to learn how to handle them and help our children. Don't allow yourself to get depressed. There is a world full of people who are dealing with all sorts of situations they never expected they would need to address. You will find a way to deal with yours.

Did the doctor recommend an evaluation by a children's behavioral health agency or psychologist? If not, ask for a recommendation. Once you have her evaluated you will know better what you are dealing with. The behavior specialists will work with you and your daughter on controlling her troublesome behaviors and practicing appropriate behaviors. Medication may nor may not be recommended. You can help to decide if you think they are necessary.

Don't let yourself get down. Knowledge and a positive attitude are a tremendous help. Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful

If your daughter has ADHD, it doesn't mean she "IS" ADHD. It doesn't change who she is, and she doesn't become a defective person with a new title which is a disorder. If you have a doctor who is saying she may "BE" ADHD, then get a new doctor QUICK. Also bear in mind, that ADHD is HIGHLY over diagnosed. Doctors can sometimes treat problems and suppress symptoms, but they can't asses entire lifestyles and personalities. She probably doesn't have it, if signs are just now starting at age 4.
As for what you're doing wrong, don't play the blame game. Kids come in all different energy levels and packages. You're a good mom, and your oldest is flourishing. High energy and not needing to nap are not signs of ADHD, they are traits that many kids with and without ADHD have. Behavioral problems can be caused by many factors.
One doctor described potential ADHD like this: If your child has always had a calm, organized, happy home with firm structure, discipline, clear enforced rules, lots of love and attention, a nutritious well balanced diet without excess sugar and chemicals, plenty of sleep and plenty of exercise, and they have never been able to function properly, keep an attention span long enough to complete tasks and have unexplained rageful confused outbursts for no reason etc., they may have some chemical imbalance or malfunction going on in their brain that needs assessment. If they can behave when it suits them, they DO NOT HAVE ADHD.
If you know her entire environment and parenting is well structured, and she isn't having any difficulties or sadness in daycare etc, then maybe you need some tests done, but if you can think of any way where she may just need some extra love and attention and structure, more exercise, more sleep, better food-anything at all, then there are other things you can try first. She may be going into a hard developmental phase, and she just needs more discipline for behavioral outbursts and more love. Don't let a doctor drug her and convince you something is wrong with her right out of the gate. My daughter is EXTREMELY active, never naps, and stays up until midnight sometimes. I have to really be firm with her on all rules, and she eats no sugar, I have to make sure she gets enough exercise during the day even if it's inconvenient for me-on cold days when we stay in all day, she's up way too late. Nothing is wrong with her. Michael Phelps's mom threw him in the pool because he was hyperactive. look what happened.
You sound like a very caring thorough mother, try everything you can to improve whatever you can think of, and give it 6 months of the new system before you do anything drastic or start to worry. Good luck!!! I know your daughter is healthy!

1 mom found this helpful

I agree with Marissa that your daughter is terribly sleep-deprived. I would immediately read either Ferber's or Weissbluth's books-- maybe both. A child of that age needs about 10-11 hours of sleep a day. Without that much sleep, behavioral and learning problems are nearly guaranteed. It is going to take some tears and bad nights to get her to learn to how to sleep properly, but that lesson is going to pay dividends in the long run.

I would also look into modifying her diet. Some kids are very sensitive to artificial flavors/colors, but also check out if she is eating too much sugar, etc. Some kids respond to gluten-free/ casein-free diets. You're going to have to be a detective to figure out what is going to work for her.

I'm not anti-medication, but I would work hard on behavior/food modification before I went the pharma route.

As everyone else said, don't beat yourself up. This isn't your fault, just your challenge.

1 mom found this helpful

Dr. Weissbluth (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) would say that your child is probably extremely overtired. Her bedtime is, as your message indicates you know, WAY too late for her age. I would check out the book from the library, but basically she should probably be going to bed at 8. You will probably have to more or less lock her in her room without her toys to get that to work at this age, and, of course, the crying will happen. But if she sleeps more she may be calmer and more focused during the day. I hope that helps, it would certainly be nicer than a diagnosis...

1 mom found this helpful

I would see if your insurance cover Behaviour Modification. I don't think you are doing anything wrong, soemtiems a child ahs more needs than another and that doesn't make them bad or wrong. You need to learn how to effectifly work with your younger child.

I have a daughter with Austism who also has ADHD and another with ADHD so I know it isn't easy when they just wont stop. Yu may want to also look into meds. I know it isn't fun but my middle daughter would not stop and drove everyone insane, this kid wasn't learning and is having major problems and I had to medicate her. She isn't a zombie and is happy at school. She doesn't get kdcked out to the behaviour room eighter.

My oldest is having her own problems and I am working on finding a dr to take her to so she can get some help. Weither she has ADHD or not she still needs some supports. Good luck to you whatever you decide to do.

1 mom found this helpful

There is a safe/herbal pill in CVS --it is called Melatonin & it will help her sleep. Ask the pharmacist how much to give.
Have you told your pediatrician your concerns? Also, maybe you can get an appt at CHOP to find out what is going on with her.

This is not your fault; please keep that in mind.
Also, there are behavioral intervention programs out there-my daughter has gone thru them & recieved ALOT of help.

Please look on this website--Potential Inc.--Newtown, PA
Kristine Quinby

God Bless

1 mom found this helpful

Most 4 year olds are active. Sometimes very active. I run a daycare and NONE of the 4 year olds take naps. Most have short attention spans. Before this I spent 10 years working with children in the mental health field where I worked with a lot of children with ADHD. I would hate to see a child labeled with ADHD at this young of an age. I'm not sure that people realize that it can affect their ability to get certain jobs when they become adults. Or to get life insurance.

That said there are some ways to deal with it. Some you may do already, I can't tell from what you've written. But I'll make up a list for you and hope it helps. In my experience helping a child with any serious problem is a lot of work for the parent and hard so don't be discouraged. It is not immediate fix. It's not medication, which in my mind is sometimes necessary to counter a chemical imbalence, but also the last step. I'm going to tell you about behavior modification which takes a lot of time and months to complete. The teacher on here who responded was right on the ball I'm just expanding on her advice. And it will get worse before it gets better but when it gets better it will be worth it!

1. Become structured. Very structured. My guess is you already are to some extent because you work you have a routine for getting up in the morning and getting ready or you would never get there on time. But make sure it's well organized. Every morning at the same time do the same things. It will give your daughter a sense of security but also enable her to learn the routine and begin to complete it on her own.

2. A timer is your best friend. I use it with my own kids who do not have ADHD. You can use it for time outs. You can use it to time activities (ok you have 5 minutes to brush your teeth. You have 10 minutes to play before we go. When the timer rings we're done.)

3. Start using time outs. A time out is not just sitting in a corner. It is a time away from an activity that it getting out of hand. Of course it is still also used to redirect a behavior and used as a consequence. Use 1-2-3 magic. Start by asking for the behavior to stop (Please don't jump on the couch. Jumping continues.)Count 1. 2. (If behavior doesn't stop go to 3 and guide the child to time out chair which should be set in the most boring no toys or tv place as possible.) The time out should be the child's age. They are not to talk during it. You are not to respond. Please explain this to your child and walk them through what a time out will be like before you use it for the first time and before there is a problem. Explain "this chair is to help you calm yourself down." If the child talks or gets up the timeout starts over again. The first couple of times don't be surprised if a time out takes a very long time. The better you explain this (and have her repeat the explanation back to you) before you need it the smoother it will go.

4. Make a behavioral chart and a reward system. Pick out the top 5-6 things you want her to work on. (Such as listen to the teacher.) Don't expect her to get all of them. When I start this I do daily rewards and then weekly rewards. For instance Get 3 stars a day and you get a sticker for your sticker book. You get a 1/2 hour of computer time. Something easily done that isn't too expensive but will be rewarding for your daughter. Get 20 stars a week and get ______________.
She will Not get the weekly goal for a while. But it is something to work towards. Something rewarding. And make sure you do it when she reaches it or she'll learn there is no point in working hard (and you can't be trusted). When she is getting these done consistently enough change to new goals. Check in with the teacher to make sure she is still listening in class or whatever the goals were. This is going to put extra work on the teacher but the end results will be a child who does not get kicked out of preschool for behavioral issues.

5. Start girl chat time. This is a time to talk about everything that's happened during the day. Special time. Get out the hair brushes and barrets and sit on the floor and be together being silly. It can be 10 mins if that's all the time you have. Use phrases like, "What else could you have done?" Exploring alternative ways to behave and even role playing them will help create new ways to deal with difficult situations. "Why do you think they got mad? Would you have gotten mad?" "What can you do to make it better? What about...?"

Well, I know this is a long note but I'm trying to cram college behavioral psych into a little note. This is also a very short list. If you want a great book written for the average parent it is SOS Help for Parents. It's great. It spells everything out. Techniques to deal with most problems. And it's reassuring that things will be fine if you are mom.

We can be friends but first we're parents. Good Luck!


1 mom found this helpful

You are a good mother!!! Don't doubt that. It is very hard rasing kids (especially these days) and each child is so different!!!

My son (who is now 15) has ADHD and had problems in preschool sitting still, paying attention and touching the other kids. In 1st grade he was still haveing issues so I took him to his pediatrician and they gave me papers to have filled out by his teacher and me and his dad. He has been on medicine for his ADHD since 1st grade now. He is doing much better now but still is hyper when his meds run out.

I would definately talk to your doctor and have the teacher fill out papers, etc. It can't hurt and it is worth peace of mind! It is not your daughter's fault or your fault but if you don't get her help then she may get very discouraged and lose her self-confidence and not be able to focus in school (also might have a hard time making friends).

I know where you are coming from and it isn't an easy road! Very challenging and difficult decision to make if you do decide she needs medicine.

Good luck!!!

1 mom found this helpful

The daughter of my friend was diagnosed with ADHD earlier this year. She was doing horribly in school and falling far behind. She just couldn't seem to stay on task at all. They started her on medication (she is in first grade). Now she is getting straight As and is able to stay on task and understand the work. She is still the same lovable child only able to concentrate and stay on task which makes both her and her parents happier.

Don't fret. Have your daughter checked. You will be able to deal with it either way. It is just a matter of finding out what is going to work best for your 4 year old, either way.

Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful

HI K.,
I'm sure this is overwhelming and confusing for you.
If your daughter has ADHD, it is certainly not due to anything you are or are not doing.
Please take some time to get very educated about ADHD and make sure your child has a complete evaluation. Your pediatrician can prescribe an evaluation and refer you where to go. He may have done this already? Not sure from your post. All you need to be doing "right" as a mother is to make sure that your daughter has all of the resources and services and support she may need.
In my opinion, just about all kids have one kind of issue or another. They are not all the same. Hang in there and Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

First of all you are not doing anything wrong. It is something tht just happened but she needs help so i would take her and get the help she needs. ADHD children are very responsive once they are on the medication adn you will be able to handle her better. But it is also controled by her diet so chaeck in to a web site abut the child's diet with ADHD. Good luck

1 mom found this helpful

Hi K.,

Check the web of Dr. Laurie Dietzel.


Maybe she has some answers for you.


I know a company that has a product that helps with focusing and ADHD. If you are interested, let me know.

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