I have looked up going "boneless" in toddlers and articles mention it's a thing they do when they are tantruming. This is a different kind of boneless- My 3 y.o. when doing an activity like crafting (coloring, glueing, painting) or some kind of learning activity with numbers or letters (doing a puzzle, writing, answering questions) he seems to go boneless. He becomes like a goo and cannot hold his body up anymore. It'll start with him leaning and putting all his body weight on me and rubbing his head onto something and then slowly making his way down to the floor where he'll roll around and not take anything seriously. But when I let him know we can do something else he does not want to end the activity, even if a preferred activity is suggested. Is this a sign of ADHD? Or is this normal 3 y.o. behavior? I remember this feeling as a young kid in school, but don't remember anyone else doing it, especially when it came to math, like it hurt my brain and made me sleepy and I needed to put my head down to think of answers. I have often wondered if I have ADHD.

  • Is he trying in a humorous way to tell you he's had enough? He sounds like an imaginative child. There is no one behavior (or two) that defines ADHD, but going boneless is not a classic sign of it.
    – anongoodnurse
    Aug 2 at 2:58
  • 1
    "where he'll roll around and not take anything seriously" This sounds more like he's actively and consciously playing, rather than being genuinely lethargic. Is this interpretation correct, or is it ambiguously phrased?
    – Flater
    Aug 3 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


While this is anecdotal, it does seem very similar.

Both my wife and 1yo child act unusual when they are very tired. They appear to be acting drunk/giddy when they hit a certain limit of tiredness. My wife slurs her words, becomes imbalanced when standing or heavily slouches when sitting, responds very slowly and absentmindedly, and laughs at everything. My child, who doesn't speak yet, laughs at literally anything when it happens (which is not usual for him) and becomes relatively uncoördinated with his toys.
It manifests more like a drunk person giggling at everything, as opposed to classic signs of tiredness such as yawning or low energy.

Both of them also will reject any suggestion of going to bed or stopping with their current activity, even while at the same time expressing that they cannot manage their current activity.

I can't fully judge your situation, but based on what you've written, it does sound similar. Is it possible these occurrences happen close to bedtime? After an unusual lack of sleep during last bedtime? After a very intense activity (e.g. sports) or a long day?

If this does sound similar to you, I would investigate sleeping issues. There might be a simple fix to their sleep schedule that helps them. It might also be that something is causing them to sleep badly (e.g. illness, environmental noise, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements, ...).

I can't judge whether this is ADHD. Neither my wife nor child have been diagnosed with it, but lack of a diagnosis is not proof of absence.

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