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Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Many young children seem to have endless energy and struggle with staying focused or organised but children with ADHD may seem unable to sit still, constantly distracted, struggle to wait their turn, think before they speak or consider risks. Some children will also have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

If you think your child may have ADHD it’s a good idea to speak to your child’s teacher, school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or your GP.

What causes ADHD?

We don’t know what causes ADHD but it does run in families and it is more common in children who were born prematurely or had a low birthweight.

How can I help my child?

Looking after a child with ADHD can be challenging, but it's important to remember that they cannot help their behaviour.

Children with ADHD often struggle with things like getting to sleep at night, getting ready for school on time, being organised and social occasions. This can make life difficult and stressful for everyone, but there are a range of ways we can help you to help your child.

It’s a good idea to ask teachers for help you with adjustments that could make school life easier for your child. Every child is different and what works for one child may not work for yours, but it may be a good idea to asking your child’s teacher to give them a task which allow them to get up and move around during lessons, moving them away from distractions like windows or doors, sitting them at the front of the class to help them focus and breaking down tasks into numbered steps.

Medicines which may help your child can only be prescribed by a clinical psychologist after an assessment and diagnosis.

Strategies and advice

We have a number of workshops which have advice and strategies you can try with your child. It’s important to try new strategies for at least six weeks as it can take time for children to.

Under 5s

If your child is under five years-old our Health Visiting Service provides support and confidential health advice on:

  • your child’s growth and development
  • behaviour difficulties, such as sleeping, eating, toilet training and temper tantrums
  • healthy eating, hygiene, safety and exercise.

Children who are at school

The School Health Service provides support for primary and secondary-aged children with a variety of health issues and can refer your child to specialist services if they need extra help or support.

These include:

  • daytime and night-time wetting and soiling
  • behaviour management
  • healthy eating and lifestyle
  • emotional health and wellbeing
  • puberty and growing up
  • sexual health
  • stopping smoking
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • sleep
  • complex health needs.

There are a number of school health teams across Kent. Referring to one of the teams is easy:

0300 123 4496
Online referral form

Early Help Service

If you are worried about your child’s behaviour

If you are worried about your child’s behaviour, if you are struggling to cope, if your child is refusing to go to school/college or is having difficulties with family relationships or a bereavement you can contact our Early Help Triage Team.

03000 41 92 22

Your child’s GP or preschool/school can make a referral on your behalf. More information about can be found at

Local Inclusion Forum Team

If the staff at your child’s preschool or school need additional advice, training or support to help your child, then the SENCO can make a referral to the Local Inclusion Forum Team (LIFT). You will need to give consent for this to happen.

At the Early Years LIFT meeting the SENCO will share your child’s needs and explain what they have done to try to help your child Other settings/schools and professionals, for example, an educational psychologist or specialist teacher may suggest further strategies that they can try to support your child.

The outcomes of the LIFT meeting should be shared with you by the SENCO so you can work together to set targets and a plan for your child.

More help

Supporting challenging behaviour

If you need help with supporting challenging behaviour, you may find the advice here useful.


If you have concerns please see our Community Paediatrics page for information on how to refer your child.

Useful websites

Frequently asked questions