It’s hard to know at her age just what is behind this kind of behavior. I’m assuming you would have mentioned it if you had other concerns. If she is a typical kid in every other way, I’d hold off the worrying for awhile. Kids stumble on things that soothe them. Some twist their hair. Some chew on a sleeve. Some develop more socially unacceptable habits like nail biting. Often these habits fade – especially if the grownups can refrain from making too big a deal of them. Since you’re not getting calls from her teacher or the school psychologist, I suggest you leave it alone for now. At the next parent-teacher conference, you could ask the teacher if your daughter does it at school too and if it is causing any difficulties for her.
Is she exhibiting any other questionable behaviors? As stated on Everyday Health’s website, “According to the criteria that the American Academy of Pediatrics uses for the diagnosis of this mental disorder, children must exhibit ADHD behaviors before the age of seven and consistently for at least six months. Here are 15 signs that your child may have ADHD:”
“Fidgets or squirms almost all the time. Children with ADHD are constantly moving their hands, arms, feet, and legs. They squirm a lot.
Can’t sit in the same place for any length of time. A common symptom of children with ADHD is that they have trouble sitting still, Davenport says. They may get up at times when they know they are expected to stay seated.
Doesn’t learn from experience. “These are the kids that you find yourself saying, ‘If I told you once, I told you a thousand times,’” Davenport says.
Runs and climbs excessively. In teenagers, this symptom is often described as restlessness.
Can’t wait her turn. The child cuts in line and butts into games other children may be playing.
Interrupts others. Children with ADHD have trouble taking turns speaking and often blurt out answers. When they interrupt, they don’t realize they’re doing it, Davenport says.
Has trouble following directions, no matter how simple.
Seems not to listen when spoken to directly. You may ask your child over and over again to clean up his toys or to brush his teeth, and he can’t focus enough to respond and do what you say, Davenport says.
Loses possessions. The child often loses things needed for school or at home, such as toys, pencils, books, or homework.
Is disorganized. The child can’t organize tasks or activities so that he can complete them.
Is unfocused. She is reluctant to do things that require thinking, such as homework or schoolwork.
Can’t plan ahead. For example, your child may forget to bring home the books he needs for homework.
Is forgetful. She may frequently forget to bring her lunch to school.
Is unable to focus attention on activities or details. Children with ADHD are likely to lose interest in what they’re doing after about 20 minutes, sometimes even sooner, Davenport says. They constantly go from one activity to another.
Goes off in his own world. You might suspect your child has ADHD if, when he is climbing on the sofa or jumping on the bed, he goes off into a world of his own and doesn’t respond when you tell him to stop. Your child may appear to be daydreaming frequently.”
If you do get input from others that this behavior is becoming a problem, you could make an appointment to see a child psychologist for an evaluation. If there is a definable problem, you will get ideas for what to do. If the psychologist tells you it’s merely a way she automatically self-soothes, you will get peace of mind.
I wish you well.
This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on December 21, 2009.