For many young kids, it’s normal to have trouble paying attention, be very energetic, and sometimes be sloppy and unfocused when doing schoolwork.

But if you think that your child has more trouble focusing than other kids his age — and that it’s getting in the way of his home and school life — it might be time to turn to the experts for answers.

You may have heard of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that causes people to have trouble paying attention and have more trouble with controlling their behavior and emotions. (There’s also ADD: Some have the condition without the hyperactivity.)

Here is a checklist of some common ADHD symptoms:

Doesn’t pay attention to details or makes careless mistakes on homework

Has trouble staying focused, even when playing

Doesn’t follow through when you give him instructions

Has trouble finishing chores or homework

Has a hard time getting organized

Is fidgety or squirms when sitting

Blurts out answers before the question is even finished

Runs around even when it isn’t appropriate

Talks too much

Has a hard time waiting his turn

Interrupts other people’s games or conversations

Tends to lose things a lot

 If you see a lot of these symptoms in your child, talk with his teacher to find out if she also notices them at school. (Remember: Even if your child has these symptoms, it doesn’t mean he has ADHD.) Your teacher can help, but only a qualified doctor can make a diagnosis. If you think your child has ADHD, talk with your pediatrician.

To learn more about ADHD, check out ADDitude magazine and CHADD (Children and Adults With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder).

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