ADHD vs. spirited child?

Parent Educator Rona Renner, RN, shares advice for parents on how to tell if a child is just spirited and high energy or should be tested for ADHD
How To Tell If A Child Has ADHD or Is Just Spirited
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ADHD vs. spirited child?

A lot of parents ask me, is my spirited, high energy child gonna have ADHD when they get older or do they already have it? How do I know? And it's a hard question because there's a wide range of normal temperaments and I always start there. Let's think of your child as normal. And then look at the impairment in their life. If you have a child who's, say, six years old, and they can't sit still in the classroom, even when the teacher needs them to, they're very fidgety and restless, they don't have friends because they're so impulsive, other kids don't like them, and they're really struggling with their work. You want to step back and say, maybe there's more going on here. You know, ADHD is probably something that's prevalent in about 5% of the population. We don't want to over-diagnose it and we don't want to under-diagnose it. So if your child is struggling at home and at school, get a professional to step in and evaluate what's going on and make sure it's someone who's really good at this. You don't want a ten minute appointment with a pediatrician to suddenly say, "Let's put your child on medication." You want a good evaluation. You want to try things like adapting the environment to see if a different environment helps them excel. And you always want to focus on what they do well. 'Cause a lot of these kids with Attention Deficit Disorder are so creative and so smart.

Parent Educator Rona Renner, RN, shares advice for parents on how to tell if a child is just spirited and high energy or should be tested for ADHD


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Rona Renner, RN

Parent Educator

Rona Renner has been a Registered Nurse for 46 years with a wide range of experience in health care. In the last 20 years she has focused her attention on pediatrics, parent education and advocacy, ADHD and learning differences. In 1992, she was trained by Kaiser Permanente Medical Center as a temperament counselor to help parents understand their child's behavior, and she co-wrote the temperament based parenting class manual. In 2002, she founded Childhood Matters, a non-profit organization producing radio shows in English and Spanish. "Nurse Rona" hosted a weekly call-in radio show for over nine years, and has appeared on many television shows, including CNN and 20/20. Rona is the author of Is That Me Yelling, a book aimed to help parents learn how to effectively communicate with their kids by focusing on their child's unique temperament, and their ownShe loves working with parents one-on-one, in groups, or in large workshops. Rona is happily married, has four adult children, and two grandsons.

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