Could My 5 Year Old Have ADHD?

Reader’s Question

I am very worried about my son who is approaching his 5th birthday. He is very loud, aggressive, argumentative, always runs off in shops, and hurts his 1-year-old sister. He has been at infant school since Sept 07 and has already punched a boy resulting in a black eye, bit another child and kicked another. It’s almost as though he cannot control his temper. He has 2 older brothers, 11 and 13; all 3 share a bedroom so I find it difficult to give him time out. Also I know he does pick up things from the older boys that don’t help, even more so with them all sharing a room.

One to one he is a good child, loves having books read to him, loves watching films, but the more people there are around the worse he gets. As soon as someone walks through the door he changes, shows off, shouts, starts running around trying to make his voice heard above anything else. He is a bright lad, I think academically he is where he should be for his age.

I have thought that he might have ADHD but I don’t really know too much about it all. I have no idea where I would go to get a diagnosis so I’m hoping you could shed some light as to whether I am failing him as a parent. Myself and my husband feel we have let him down badly for him to have all this agression inside him.

Psychologist’s Reply

What you are describing is a textbook picture of an ADHD child. As you observed, ADHD children become more hyperactive and aggressive as their environment becomes more stimulating. The more people we add to a room, the more hyperactive they become. I’ve described ADHD in an article on my website at You might also want to review some articles on ADHD on this website.

When our child has ADHD, our sense of parental competency takes a big beating. Normal parenting strategies don’t work. If you take away a toy, after ten minutes he’s forgotten he had it. Punishment typically doesn’t work (you must remember being punished for it to be effective). In the school setting, you’ll soon start receiving complaints from the teachers and other parents that he plays too rough or is too aggressive.

The Internet has thousands of websites focusing on ADHD. Start your research and I think you’ll see a youngster you know very well. The next step is a medical or mental health assessment to confirm the diagnosis. From that point you then consider treatment options. Importantly, you have not let him down as parents. ADHD is a medical disorder — not a parenting problem.

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