Skip to content

ADHD in Children Health Center

Font Size

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Preschool-Age Children

Inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity are all behavioral traits of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) that also are normal behaviors for preschool children. Also, everyday behavior changes frequently in this age group, making it difficult to establish a pattern.

But very young children with ADHD generally have behaviors that are extreme and much more exaggerated than those of other children the same age.

Preschool children diagnosed with ADHD are not usually treated with medicine, because they are more likely to experience side effects. Parent training in techniques to improve a child's behavior is usually tried first, except in extreme cases or unusual circumstances. The Preschool ADHD Treatment Study (PATS) found that methylphenidate (Ritalin) is safe for preschool-age children in low doses. Preschool-age children taking stimulant medicine should be closely monitored.1


  1. Vitiello B, et al. (2007). Effectiveness of methylphenidate in the 10-month continuation phase of the preschoolers with ADHD treatment study (PATS). Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 17(5): 593–603.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAdam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerLouis Pellegrino, MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Last RevisedFebruary 2, 2012

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: February 02, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

doctor writing on clipboard
mother with child
disciplining a boy
daughter with her unhappy parents
preschool age girl sitting at desk
Child with adhd
father helping son with homework
children in sack race