Hyperactivity or Impulsivity

Young boy having a tantrum
Children with symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity are often diagnosed with ADHD when they are younger. Their behaviour often needs to be redirected by adults more often than their peers'

Hyperactivity and impulsivity in context

At school

Children with symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity, especially boys, often act like the “class clown.” They may talk too much when they are not supposed to, but then fall silent when the teacher asks a question. Alternatively, they may blurt out answers before they hear the whole question. Sometimes they have trouble slowing down enough to hear or follow directions, which can create problems at school.

After school

After school can be an especially challenging time for families of children with symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity. These children may experience more conflicts with siblings while parents are busy with household tasks during this time.

Bedtime routines

Children with symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity often have problems falling asleep, even when they are very tired. This may make bedtime routines especially challenging.

Leisure and recreation

Hyperactive and impulsive children may put themselves at risk of injury by acting too quickly without considering the consequences. As a result, they may need more supervision than typical children.

Normal levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity

It is normal for children to be hyperactive and impulsive sometimes. For example:

  • Toddlers and preschoolers are normally very active and impulsive and need constant supervision.
  • Children often become more active and impulsive when they are tired or hungry.
  • Children may become more active in new situations or when they are anxious.
  • Older children and teenagers sometimes act on impulse, especially when they are excited or when peer pressure is involved.

These symptoms do not necessarily mean that a child has ADHD. ADHD would only be diagnosed if:

  • the child is much more hyperactive and impulsive than other children of the same age, sex, and stage of development
  • the symptoms are causing problems for the child at home, at school, or in social situations

Peter Chaban, MA, MEd

Rosemary Tannock, PhD

3/20/2009


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