How can I tell if my 4-year-old has ADD or ADHD?

Q: Could my little girl have ADD or ADHD?

A: As a mother, you may feel in your bones that something might not be right, and sensitivity to your daughter may be giving you clues that there is some sort of problem or challenge to understand better. These clues can be meaningful, since you know your daughter better than anyone else.

However, only a qualified mental health professional can make a diagnosis that is correct for your 4-year-old daughter. Even if a parent is also a qualified medical professional who gives diagnoses for other families, the parent would still lack the impartiality to make appropriate clinical decisions for a "patient" who is one's own child.

Ask your pediatrician or family doctor about whatever you observe or whatever worries you. It is possible your doctor can get to the bottom of things and reassure you. If not, ask for a referral to get a comprehensive evaluation for your daughter so she can be assessed for a variety of emotional, learning, or situational difficulties. The evaluation may point the way to what further steps to take.