Parents of children with ADHD know that parenting girls with ADHD provides extra challenges. But truthfully, I have received so much fulfillment from raising my daughters with ADHD. Every day provides a chance to learn something new about ADHD, my daughters, and myself. If you’re wondering if your daughter might have ADHD, here are some signs of ADHD in girls.
A successful ADHD parent acknowledges that their daughter has specific needs that are different from what a neurotypical girl needs, but also realizes that these differences don’t have to be disabilities. Flexibility in parenting is the key to a successful relationship with your ADHD daughter.
Common Signs of ADHD in Girls
There are three types of ADHD (inattentive, hyperactive, and combined), so your daughter may show all or just some of the symptoms outlined below.
- Cannot sit still
- Easily frustrated
- Wants to answer questions immediately
- Doesn’t wait for instructions
- Daydreams or stares off into space
- Forgets assignments
- Loses school supplies
- Rushes through work
- Self-esteem is based on achievements
- Interrupts constantly
- Is distracted by EVERYTHING
- Leaves tasks half-finished
- In a multi-step task, will only complete the first step
- Talks constantly
- Gets frustrated if they have to wait
- Makes careless mistakes
- Has trouble with time management
- May fight authority and be extremely independent
- Often hyper focuses on enjoyable activities
These signs of ADHD in girls may be masked when she is in public and come out more at home. Many teachers are completely unaware that a girl struggles with ADHD and are quite surprised when you tell them that your daughter has been diagnosed.
This is because girls are quite good at hiding their shortcomings and conforming to what they must do in a classroom setting. However, it is a huge strain on a girl and often results in anxiety symptoms when a girl ages.
What Does ADHD in Girls Look Like Day to Day?
Since girls with ADHD aren’t always hyperactive, the day-to-day experience with a daughter with ADHD won’t always look the same. But at our house, days often go like this:
6:30: I wake my girls and remind them to get ready for school.
7:00: The girls are still not ready, because they’ve lost their homework, their shoes, their hairbrushes, their clothes, and pretty much anything possible.
7:20: The girls still haven’t started actually putting on their clothes. I remind them we have to leave in 5 minutes.
7:30: If we’re lucky, the girls grab food on the way out to the car. Most days we aren’t lucky, so one girl always has to dash back inside at the last minute to pick up something she forgot.
7:45 to 3: The girls are in school, so the teachers get that fun.
3:30: The girls come home and drop their belongings in the doorway. One is upset that a friend has unfriended her (the teen), while the other has an emotional outburst over a movie I tell her she can’t watch (the first grader). Both girls are exhausted.
4:30: I always give the girls about an hour to decompress after school. If they don’t get this time, all hell breaks loose.
5:00: Girls have homework time. This never goes well. The first-grader stands on her head, cries, wiggles, fidgets, struggles to complete the assignment, and is generally cranky. The teen swears up and down she has no homework (but in the morning 10 minutes before school she will suddenly remember and try to do it then). There are a *lot* of reminders.
6:00: Sometimes we get to eat food at this time, but usually not until later.
7:00: It’s chore time. There are more tears (from the young one) and angry outbursts (from the teen).
8:00: It’s time to get ready for bed. Searching for pajamas takes forever. We remind the girls to brush their teeth about 20 times. “I know!” they say every time. But they always forget anyway. Sometimes we have time for a story, often we don’t.
9:00: The girls are usually asleep by now. But about every third day, one of them pops out of bed remembering another school assignment that’s due tomorrow. If we’re lucky, it isn’t something we have to go to the store to get. We’re not always lucky.
This is just a rough outline of how our days with ADHD go, but for the most part, a girl with ADHD will have constant mood swings, be generally irritable, forget things, be distracted, procrastinate, and be contrary all day.
But home is their safe place, as they keep most of the signs of ADHD bottled up throughout the day. So I’m often comforted by the fact that at least they see me as a safe place for their emotions. It’s never easy, but there is always something to smile about every day.
Positive Signs of ADHD in Girls
ADHD isn’t all bad. Some researchers have suggested that ADHD and autism are the future of the mind and that more people will have brains like that in the future. True or not, there are still a lot of positive symptoms of ADHD in girls.
Girls with ADHD show signs of:
- Extra creativity
- Outside-the-box thinking
- Leadership skills
- Boundless energy
- Sense of adventure
- Sense of wonder
These positive signs of ADHD help temper some of the negative symptoms of ADHD that we see in girls.
Don’t Wait to Get an ADHD Diagnosis for Girls
Girls with ADHD are easy to miss, especially the female-specific signs of ADHD. But if you suspect that your daughter may have ADHD, don’t wait to seek a diagnosis. The older girls get, the more they struggle with ADHD symptoms. And if a girl isn’t diagnosed, she can’t get the support or medication that she may need to treat her condition.
This causes many girls to engage in self-harm, self-medication with alcohol or drugs, and other risky behaviors. Go here to learn more about how to start the diagnostic process. And you can read more about our ADHD journey here.