7 Ways to Deal with an Overactive Child
My story started when I became pregnant with my now two-and-a-half-year-old son. Even when he started moving inside my womb, he was extremely active; he kicked, he flipped and rolled, kicking both my ribs and pelvis at the same time. I even felt like he was stretching his arms and legs. While trying to do the ultrasound exam, the doctor once exclaimed that he couldn’t have him stay still for a second! True enough, after he was born, he turned out to be a spirited, energetic child, with a full battery that never dies. By the way, I will be using the word spirited rather than overactive, as I feel it is more positive and more appealing.
Whenever we go out, people will reach out to me and ask: “How can you handle his activity?” or “Is he always like this?” or “Oh, God bless him, the world can’t seem to be enough for him”. Whatever it is, I have never known any other way for children to act, but luckily, I was aware of many methods and techniques due to my specialization as a certified Kids and Parenting Coach. If you happen to have a high-spirited child, and he is not diagnosed with ADHD, isn’t causing himself or others any trouble, research shows that there are many activities to keep highly spirited children busy, with minimum frustration to the child as well as the parents. I have tried these with my wonderful, spirited child and I am sure you can use some of these techniques yourself:
· Routine: from day one, children love routines. It is easier for them to have a sense of what is happening next, than living haphazardly in this big world. From meal times to naps, to playtime etc. just try to stick to a form of routine through the week, and even during holidays and trips. Life is much easier and more enjoyable with routines. Ever since my son was born, we have traveled no less than five times a year, and all our trips run smooth; we have never had a crying baby on the plane!
· Nutrition: there are many opinions regarding this, but some children get more energy from eating a certain food, so keep an eye out for what is causing your child to become overactive. It doesn’t necessarily have to be something that made him more active, it could be something that upset him and he had no other way to communicate it.
· Nature and the outdoors: we spend a lot of our time outside, whether going to a nearby farm to feed the animals, or just walking in the fields and up the mountains to pick flowers, stones, and tree leaves. Kids become very creative when they are outside. If you haven’t tried such a thing, then it should be at the top of your list of activities.
· Sensorial play: yes, I bring sand and snow into my house, I am not KIDDING! My child gets a turn to wash vegetables and do the dishes. (Of course, I have to go over what he does, but still…). I find that kids spend a lot of their excess energy and stress by playing with sand and water.
· Exercise: We jump and dance around the house and while doing chores. He laughs and sings and shouts happily. When we can’t go outside for a run around the garage since we don’t have a garden, we do it at home, and we play loud music and just enjoy ourselves.
· Include your child in your schedule: I try to give my child some tasks to include him in whatever I am doing. If I am cooking, then I ask him to hand me some ingredients, or give him his safe knife and have him cut vegetables and put them in his own pan. If I am cleaning then he has his own cloth to clean a certain area, or he can use the broom or the vacuum cleaner, etc. With time, you will stop seeing the mess that you are dreading right now. I know what is going on in your minds as you’re reading this, but believe me, it becomes part of your routine to have your child around to help!
· Finally, accept your child for who he/ she is. No labels, no criticism, guide him/ her to new adventures and stay by their side. You will be surprised.
You don’t have to do all the activities every day and not all day long, choose what fits within your schedule and lifestyle, and what is acceptable to you at first, and explore further each time.
Keep it simple and stay calm. Connect with yourself and your child. Our children never have the intention to make us angry, we choose how we react.