Richmond Practice - Behaviour problems and ADHD in children

Behaviour problems and ADHD in children
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I am concerned about my child's behaviour. What should I do?

Healthy children are usually happy, curious, active and enjoy social interaction with other children. Children do not always display their reactions to stressful events immediately and these may emerge later as behaviour problems. Attempting to prepare children in advance, of any potentially traumatic event is helpful, as is allowing them to express their true fears and anxieties about impending events.

Things to watch out for include:

  • Mood changes or extreme sadness that gets in the way of normal activities (depression)
  • Anxiety
  • Not eating enough or eating too much (disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia)
  • An attitude of prejudice against some people (negative stereotyping)
  • Repeating cycles of doing something over and over again (obsessional behaviour)
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Tendency to want to be alone, isolating themselves.
What about hyperactivity and attention deficit (ADHD)?

ADHD is so common it is not seen as a real disorder unless it is at a very serious level or occurs alongside other problems. Diagnostic testing for it is rare in under 5s. Children with ADHD act without thinking, are hyperactive, and have trouble focusing. They may understand what's expected of them but have trouble following through because they can't sit still, pay attention, or attend to details. They will always interrupt you in the middle of a sentence or an activity.

Most children (especially under 5s) act this way sometimes, but with ADHD the symptoms are present over a longer period of time. They affect the child's ability to function socially, academically and with their family.

Consult your doctor if:

  • you have any concerns about your child's behaviour
  • you think your child may need neurological or medical tests.
You should, of course, talk with your child's teachers or friends and perhaps the school psychologist. But you should also consult your GP or your paediatrician. Sometimes simply identifying an organic disease or a vision or hearing problem first can remedy the situation.

At Elsbeth's Doctors our consultant paediatrician offers all developmental and some basic neurological assessments, as well as blood tests, vision tests, hearing tests and intelligence tests. We have a good specialist network if your child needs specific investigations.