Children, in general, are energetic and curious. They are full of zeal and always on a hunt for something or the other. There are times when everyone around them gets tired but they just seem to have the strength to go on. But there is a fine line which differentiates kids who are naturally active and kids who are hyperactive. Handling kids who are hyperactive is a little different from handling other active kids. Let us first understand what hyperactivity means.
Most children, between age 2 and 6, are full of energy and have been rarely affected by hyperactivity. The signs of hyperactivity cannot go unnoticed as they are often accompanied by inattention and impulsive actions. Such actions often get a negative response from the people around the child as the actual reason behind those actions is not known.
Hyperactivity is often the sign of a condition known as Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It is classified as a mental disorder. Children who suffer from this condition can have trouble paying attention, make impulsive decisions or are hyperactive (1).
The child finds it difficult to stay at a certain place for a longer period of time. What we need to understand that it is not just the body that is affected by overactivity but the child’s brain is unable to slow down too.
Common Signs Of Hyperactivity:
- Running around the room without any purpose.
- Excessive talking.
- Shifting attention from one task to another within few minutes.
- Constantly fidgeting with things that are around.
- Unable to sit through any task; even meals.
These signs are not the usual energy bursts that a child gets once in a while but are present constantly. Such actions may interfere with a child’s progress and it may be time to consult a developmental paediatrician.
Observe your child and ask others in the family to do so. See if you are able to find a pattern in his behaviour and any specific reactions. If the child has already started school, talk to the teachers or the caretakers about this and take their feedback. This way you will have a little knowledge about his behaviour and it would be easy to interact with the paediatrician during the consultation. Learn as much as you can and understand your child’s needs.
Ways To Calm Down Your Child:
Your paediatrician would certainly provide you with the guidelines you need to follow; but here are some ways that you can try from your side to manage his behaviour (2).
- Keep the child busy. Provide him with multiple options to cope up with his rush of energy. Engage him in activities like sports and dance which require energy and have a positive impact on his overall health.
- Take him to a park or a play area regularly and let him just play.
- Make a routine. Having a set schedule will give your child a sense of regularity and teach him orderliness. Making him stick to the schedule is going to be a difficult task. Patience and persistence will help you achieve the much-needed stability in your child.
- Create a place to relax. Your child is definitely going to get exhausted from all the activity he does and creating such a place would give him his space. Pick out a quiet place in the house where he can sit and enjoy his own company. This can be utilized for reading books or some relaxing activity like drawing or painting. Introducing him to yoga and other relaxing methods can prove to be beneficial.
- Accept the situation and set goals accordingly. This is the most difficult part: acceptance of the situation. What we all need to understand is that the child is restless and is not able to sit in one place. So, taking them to a museum or a place where they will touch things and possibly break them is probably not a good idea. It would be agonizing for the little one and you too.
- Keep the instructions short and specific. Using simple and direct words will work with his fast-running brain. Long sentences and complex instructions can go unnoticed.
- Reinforcements and time-out. Reward and praise your child for their good behaviour. But they also need to understand that disagreeable behaviour will not be accepted. They need to know that hurting others is unacceptable. The time-out method generally works with all the kids but they should be realistic when it comes to a hyperactive child. Keep the punishments for a short duration.
- Chalk out a healthy diet. Cut down on the packaged and processed foods. Incorporate whole grains, vegetables and lean meat in his diet. This will provide him the nutrition he needs without giving him that extra energy.
- Please remember that your hyperactive child is not doing these actions on purpose. Some of these are not even with their control. Yelling or using negative words will not only hurt the child but also may worsen their behaviour. Keeping calm is the key.
Handling a hyperactive child is not going to be an easy task. Find support of other family members and take turns to look after the child. At the same time make sure that anyone who is handling the child has adequate knowledge about them and has the same set of goals.