No two children are the same, and parenting is anything but an easy game. So, if you have a particularly hyperactive child, life can at times be a bit difficult and overwhelming. However, nothing is impossible, and though a hyperactive child may appear unstable, overflowing with limitless energy, and forever jumping from one activity to another, it is no herculean task to bring in some order into his life. As a parent, all you need is some patience!
A hyperactive child has difficulty listening, taking instructions or following directions. He may tend to perform poorly or below expectation in school, and also demonstrate behavioral problems. Though there is no one set pattern or plan about how to handle a hyperactive child, with a fair bit of patience and experimentation, coping with a hyperactive child becomes easier. And here, Momjunction has come up with an effective guide on how to handle hyperactive children.
20 Effective Ways To Handle Hyperactive Children:
1. Establish Order At Home:
While some households have their bunch of rules, many others are rather relaxed. This laid back style of parenting can sometimes work, but at most times, it fails with hyperactive kids. Hyperactive children feel like a headless chicken in unclear environments. They need clear diction and a pattern to follow. They tend to become anxious when they do not know what they should be doing next. If you have a hyperactive child, it is time you laid out some rules for the general functioning of the household. Not only will these rules help you run your household in a more clear and orderly manner, but they will also help your child understand what is expected of him and when.
Set a time to wake up, brush teeth, eat food, homework, play and even sleep. This will reduce the chaos in the mind of a young child who does not know what to do. When his time is more structured, he will feel less anxious and perform better both at school and home.
[ Read: Kids With ADD ]
2. Choose Your Battles Wisely:
Do not battle everything you child does. And remember, a hyperactive child is in no way a bad child. Hyperactivity is a psychological disorder, also called ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). This is something that your child has acquired just like any other disorder. Children suffering from ADHD find it hard to focus on a given activity and tend to jump from one thing to another. This happens when the brain chemistry is impacted, and the brain cells struggle to pass information between each other. Yelling at a child suffering from ADHD will do more harm than good as your child will struggle to understand why you are yelling at him and only get more anxious. Do not try to make your child see reason. Instead, understand that he needs your help even in day to day activities. Try to focus on things that are important and quintessential and let other matters slide.
For example, focus on helping your child get past important tasks like getting ready for school, eating his food and doing his homework, rather than stressing on getting good grades and comparing him with his siblings or friends. Remember, you need to take small steps with a child suffering from ADHD.
3. Break Down Complex Instructions:
It can get very difficult for a child with ADHD to understand and put complex instructions into practice. It is, therefore, important that you break even a simple task into smaller chunks that your child can understand easily.
Teach your child to look you in the eye when you are trying to explain things to him. This will help him focus on what you are saying. Break the information into easy to digest chunks, and repeat it a few times if you have to. Once you are convinced that your child has understood the instructions, you can have him repeat each step. Do not get impatient or hurry with your child, as he will sense your impatience and get more anxious.
You can also write down instructions for an older child who can read. Step to step instructions pinned up to the refrigerator or the board in their room will help your child focus on each step and follow them one by one. He can also refer to the list and cross the steps as he completes them. Be sure to reward your child when he gets it right. This will motivate him to do better the next time round.
4. Minimize The Distractions:
Small things that you may not even notice can distract and bother a child with ADHD. Thus, it is important that you set the right atmosphere, especially when your child is performing important tasks like doing homework or preparing for a test. Begin with seating your child in a location that is cozy and away from windows and doors. Do not restrain him to his seat as this can make him restless. But, reducing the distractions around will help him focus.
It is important that you create a warm and inviting workspace. Throw in his favorite chair and maybe his car on the desk, so he likes the place he has to work. Make sure that he understands that homework and studies is not punishment. Take your child’s help while designing his study space to make him more comfortable and help him concentrate better.
[ Read: Developmental Disorders In Children ]
5. Utilize Positive Reinforcement:
Completing a task at hand is no less than a huge struggle for a hyperactive child. It is hence important that your child understands that the task is important and worth completing. You may need to reward your child and praise him every time he finishes his work with or without your assistance. Start by giving him assistance and slowly reduce the extent of help you render. You can also let your child reward himself, for example, he can reward himself half an hour of TV time or play time if he completes the task at hand.
While bribing a child to participate can become habitual with normal kids, it helps to bribe a child suffering from ADHD. Positive reinforcement, small rewards, hugs, a pat on the back, etc., will help your child through the struggle of task completion.
6. Help Your Child Create Simple To-Do Lists:
Helping your child get responsible will help you and be rewarding for your child too. Create a list of responsibilities, he can handle, to help the child build independence. Give him a written list of what he can do. It can be something as simple as filling up bottles or clearing up the table after dinner. The list can be made with diagrams that are attractive and will act as a visual reference to your child when he either forgets or gets distracted on what he should be doing. Instruct your child to refer to this list when he begins to feel bored or is unsure about what he should be doing. This will help your child feel important and responsible for certain chores around the house. Rewards for a job well done will help greatly.
Try not to punish or lose your temper if your child fails to follow the list. Remember your progress can be staggering in the beginning, but with patience and positive reinforcement, you will get past this one too! Allowing your child to work through the tasks in any order rather than starting from the top and working down the list, can make the entire exercise less forbidding.
7. Make Way For Unstructured Time:
Your child too needs to run around and simply play for his overall development. Your child is like any other child, so it is important that you allow him to play, run and jump or do what he feels like without restraining him too much. It is sad but true that most schools today focus on merely academics and do not allow children to let loose and play in an unstructured setting. It, therefore, falls upon you as a parent to give your child the time to explore. Try not to make your child’s schedule overly ordered and do not decide for him on what he should be playing. Allow your child to play outside daily while keeping an eye from a distance. This will help your child vent his energies and feel more in control of his moods.
8. Advocate For Your Child:
Once a diagnosis is made, that your child is hyperactive, everyone swoops in to give their expert opinion. Your parents, his teachers, your neighbors- the list is endless. Educators to doctors to specialists to laymen, everyone, becomes an expert and thinks he or she knows what you should do and what is best for your child. But remember, though all these people may mean well, their opinions can be conflicting and detrimental to your child’s wellbeing. If you begin to start listening to each of them, you will make your child all the more confused and lost.
You know your child best, so you make an expert. With the cooperation and support of people you trust, develop a plan that incorporates other’s expertise with your own judgment that will help motivate your child better.
Let those around you understand that it is you who are responsible for your child and understand his disorder best. This is necessary so that people around you know how to behave with your child. Dealing with hyperactive child is difficult for even those who understand, so you can imagine how trying it can be for the uninformed. You can also discuss the situation well in advance with people who spend considerable time with your child. Like, for example, your babysitter can be brought up to date about the situation and the ways you are currently following with your child. This can also be discussed with your child’s teacher so that she can help your child in a more adept manner.
[ Read: Personality Disorders In Children ]
9. Read More:
The more you know, the more equipped will you be in handling your child’s disorders. Read up and learn as much as you can about your child’s condition. Apart from reading handouts and informational material, try and make time to perform your research. However, while implementing anything new use your judgment, as the information on the World Wide Web may not always be reliable. If you prefer to go by information available on the internet, try to limit yourself to trustworthy sources.
Do not feel obligated to make a decision regarding what course of treatment your child must follow. Feel free to seek for a second or even third opinion. Remember, it is your right to ask and seek. Coping with a child who is hyperactive is a challenge in itself. However, with some handy tips this burden can be made easier to bear. To maximize your child’s success, it is important that you advocate for him with not just professionals and experts, but also the other people that your child interacts with.
10. Consult Your Physician:
Though it is helpful and quite pacifying to equip yourself with tips to handle your child, feel free to consult your physician when you do not know what to do. Also, consult the doctor before changing a set routine.
11. Accept Your Child’s Limitations And Potential:
Hyperactivity is in no way intentional, and your child does not intend to hurt you or irritate you. It is also important for you to understand that undue criticism can have a negative effect on your child’s progress. Do not ask your child to stay quiet or force him to emulate your neighbor’s child. Hyperactivity cannot be eliminated in totality. But, it can be kept under reasonable control. Learn to understand and acknowledge the fact that your child will always be active and over-energetic, and you need to find ways to be exercised more tolerance and patience.
12. Provide New Outlets To Vent:
We need not tell you that energy can’t be bottled up and stored. Energy needs a vent, and you need to help your child release his energy. Make some time to take your child to the outdoors. Let him indulge in activities like running, sports and walks. If you have a yard, allow your child to go out play every evening. In bad weather, you can allow him to use a large room to run around and play and do what he pleases without being criticized. If you have no room in your house for your child to play, clear up the garage. Do not needlessly encourage hyper-activity, but allow for your child to vent his energy through physical activities that do him good. Do not engender rough housing with your child if he suffers from ADHD and do not allow for siblings to instigate noisy games.
13. Avoid Fatigue:
Children with ADHD sometimes struggle to communicate what they feel and need. It, therefore, falls upon you that you watch over what your child does and do not allow him to get too tired. You’re your child becomes too tired or exhausted, his self-control will break down, and he will become all the more hard to handle. Exercise some amount of caution and lay down rules subtly. Fix a time for play and urge your child back home, once the time is up.
14. Avoid Large Gatherings:
If your child suffers from severe ADHD symptoms, try and avoid taking him to settings where hyperactivity can reach its peak. Churches, formal gatherings, where people are forced to follow a certain decorum can be difficult for a young child who is hyperactive. Till you have been able to find ways to handle your child’s hyperactiveness in an easy way, forgo trips to the supermarkets, churches or large parties where you expect your child to behave and cause unnecessary friction between you and your child. This does not mean that you and your child need to be cooped up indoors always. Take it slow and gradually introduce your child to new settings as he develops self-control at home.
15. Maintain Discipline:
Children with ADHD are unquestionably difficult to handle. These kids need more careful and planned discipline than the regular average kid. Rules need to be formulated and exercised in a subtle manner. You will also need to make these rules keeping your child and other kids at home in mind. Few rules to prevent harm to your kids and other kids, also need to be put into action. No matter how much you love your child, do not reward or encourage, aggressive or manipulative behavior from your child.
Also, make rules and show your displeasure if your child indulges in breaking things or harming property. This said, do not throw in unnecessary rules as kids with ADHD tend to be less tolerant about rules. Have common rules for the entire household, that are clear and easy to comprehend. Avoid using negativity even in words. Try to reduce phrases like- don’t do this, stop that that is wrong, etc
[ Read: Tips To Understand Child Psychology ]
16. Reinforce Discipline Through Nonphysical Punishment:
Most parents lose their calm with kids who do not listen and often pick up the stick. If your child is hyperactive, understand that this kind of behavior is detrimental to him. You will need to find novel ways to make your child understand that what he did was unacceptable. A good idea to reinforce discipline and make your child understand the difference between good and bad is to have an isolation room. Introduce the room as a time out place where your child can be sent to shape himself up when he misbehaves. Let him out as soon as he is apologetic and changes his behavior. Parents of hyperactive kids have found great success with this method. Their kids tend to be less aggressive and understand that what they did was wrong. Remain calm and composed, and your child will understand what is being told to him.
17. Improve Your Child’s Attention Span:
Make sure you reward non-hyperactive behavior. This is the key to preparing your child for social interaction and school. You can also begin teaching your child how to be persistent at what he does and thereby increase his attention span. Show your child pictures in a book. If you find that he is attentive, give him a big hug and tell him why you did do. Coloring pages, listening to a story and attempting to repeat it also can be rewarded.
Another novel way to improve your child’s attention span is to introduce him to games of increasing difficulty, Matching pictures, simple card games and even building blocks can help improve your child’s memory and attention span. Introduce him to one new game at a time and avoid giving him too many games that can distract him. Try and give unbreakable toys that are safe to play with, as aggression is a noted symptom in kids with ADHD and they may end up hurting themselves or others.
18. Buffer Your Child:
Do not let your child be termed and called a bad child. Often neighbors and parents of other kids who do not know what your child suffers from can say hurtful things. Also, make sure he is known to be the good child with excess energy at home. His siblings should not yell, scream or fight with him. Acceptance goes a long way in helping kids who are hyperactive. When your child feels accepted, his self-esteem and confidence will grow.
19. Take A Break:
You are a parent and not a superhero. Take a break when you have to. Take turns with your partner in taking care of a hyperactive child. Even the most patient of parents can have a nervous breakdown with a hyperactive child. Have a babysitter take care of your child once a week and head out to the movies, or have a drink together. Rejuvenate yourselves and give yourself the break you deserve. It is when you are calm and composed that you can handle your child better.
20. Do Not Be Hasty With Medication:
Today, there is a pill for everything. While getting your hyperactive child a prescription may seem the easiest thing to do, do not be too hasty. Yes, certain medication for hyperactive child do help in balancing out the brain chemistry and helps many children with ADHD. It is also true that these medications have side effects and should not be made a habit. In many cases, behavior modification and therapy help greatly. Try some therapy for hyperactive child before you decide they needs to be medicated. Patience is the key to achieving success with your child.
These simple tips go a long way in helping maintain sanity and normalcy in a household of a hyperactive child. If there is something that you think can help parents of hyperactive children cope better; please feel free to mention your pointers in the notes below.
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