Is it Bad Behavior or ADHD?

is it bad behavior or adhd

Is it Bad Behavior or ADHD?

As parents and caregivers, we have to know if the behavior we are witnessing is just outright bad behavior or is the result of a condition. Unless you are in the medical profession or have experienced the aftermath of ADHD behavior, one has to learn the difference and become informed. So, in this article, we will attempt to learn… is it bad behavior or ADHD.

What is ADHD?

According to WebMD, “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) affects children and teens and can continue into adulthood. ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed mental disorder of children. Children with ADHD may be hyperactive and unable control their impulses. Or they may have trouble paying attention. These behaviors interfere with school and home life” and is more prominent in boys than girls.

What is the difference between ADD and ADHD?

The truth is, ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) is an outdated term and the behavior is actually a type of ADHD. There are three types of ADHD:

  1. Predominantly Inattentive Type – this is what was previously called ADD and the symptom is being inattentive or easily distracted. With children and their short attention spans, it makes this diagnosis hard. This type of illness causes lack of focus, inability to concentrate and can cause frustration because the child feels like they cannot perform at expected standards. A child with this disorder is often heard saying, “I can’t”.
  2. Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type – with this disorder the symptom is hyperactivity and lack of impulse control. The person would have no symptom of inattentiveness. This disorder causes a child to be fidgety, overstimulated, highly energetic verbally and physically and feels a deep need to always be on the go. A child with this disorder is highly excitable and often talks fast and loudly.
  3. Combined Type – The symptoms of the condition involves both hyperactive-impulsive and inattentive symptoms. The child would not be able to sit still and in a school setting may be bouncing in and out of their chair with easy distraction and cannot concentrate on the current lesson at hand.

Is it bad behavior or ADHD?

Diagnosis is not a simple thing and must be done over time. The recommended diagnosis takes at least 6-months of observation by the parents, grandparents, school staff, and anyone else that may have prolonged contact with the child on a regular basis such as extracurricular activities (Karate, music lessons, sports… etc).

The child’s behavior will need to be observed. Observers will need to look for possible triggers for the behavior. Questions, such as, is this behavior constant, does it happen during certain times of the day, is the child bored or seeking attention, are outside triggers such as high sugar foods a contributing factor, and notes taken to track the behavior. All observers need to have an open line of communication and have the child’s well-being front and foremost for a proper diagnosis. The collected information is then taken to the doctor who will have many questions for the parent.

Treating ADHD

After diagnosis, the parent will have a big decision to make. It will not be easy because we always want what is best and right for our children. We will make cases for standard treatment and cases against it. We will talk to friends and family and get everyone’s opinion. We will take to the internet and read every piece of material we can get our hands on. Again, it’s a big decision.

The standard treatment for ADHD is stimulant and nonstimulant prescribed medication. Each medication has its own side effect that may need to be dealt with. The child’s doctor would work closely with you to determine the right drug, dosage, and monitoring. Those drugs are:


Dexmethylphenidate (Focalin)

Dextroamphetamine (Adderall, Dexedrine)

Lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse)

Methylphenidate (Concerta, Daytrana, Metadate, Methylin, Ritalin, Quillivant)


Atomoxetine (Strattera)

Clonidine (Kapvay)

Guanfacine (Intuniv)

The non-standard treatment for ADHD is a huge range of trial and error with patience and determination. It can be as simple as a diet change, removing sugar and certain food-dye to homeopathic supplements. (Note: the link here is a great site which details exactly how the child may behave and the appropriate supplement for them. Well-worth the read if you are researching alternative treatment.)

Alternative nonstandard treatments:

Diet – removing sugar, preservatives, food dye

EEG biofeedback


Tai Chi

Spending time outside

Behavioral or parental therapy

Behavior modification


What you need to know

Not every tool works for every child. What works for your child, may not work for another and vice versa. The treatment you choose may not work forever which will require you to try something different. It’s all a process of trial and error and there is no getting around that. As a parent, you cannot give up on your child. You have to be determined to help them learn to manage their disorder. They will fight you. Methods may not work. You will become frustrated and may want to give up and give in. Don’t! There are support groups. Talk to other parents of ADHD children. You are NOT alone!

Support Groups for parents of ADHD children

Daily Strength




ADHD – Kids Care

Check with your local school

One last bit of inspiration

The big question

Can a child “outgrow” ADHD or will it continue into adulthood if left untreated?

The answer

“Current thinking suggests that as the child grows, the prefrontal cortex grows and matures as well. This decreases symptoms. It’s been suggested that roughly one-third of people no longer have symptoms of ADHD during adulthood. Others may continue to have symptoms, but these may be milder than those noted during childhood and adolescence.” Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP

There is much information to help in this article with many wonderful links to other sites to aid you in your research. Whether it’s a stage your child is going through or a condition they need treatment for, you need to know! Be informed before you make those challenging choices.

Author: Belinda Davis © 2018