- 7 Effective Games & Activities To Handle Hyperactive Kids By Ekta Sharma Bhatnagar Parenting
- Here’s how you spot hyperactivity in kids:
- 5 Easy Ways To Handle Hyperactive Kids
- 7 Games & Activities To Keep Hyperactive Kids Busy And Motivated:
- ADHD in Children
- Is it really ADHD?
- Helping a child with ADHD
- Parenting a Child With ADHD
- How to Handle a Hyperactive Child without Losing Your Mind
- Why is My Child Hyperactive?
- The Game Changer for Hyperactive Kids…
- How to Handle a Hyperactive Child
- Tips for the Hyperactive Toddler
- More Help for How to Handle a Hyperactive Child
- 5 Ways To Turn Your Child’s Hyperactivity Into Productivity
- Safe, Productive Movement Ideas for Hyperactive Students
- What is Hyperactivity in Children?
- What Causes Hyperactivity in Kids?
- Signs and Symptoms of Child Hyperactivity
- How is Childhood Hyperactivity Diagnosed?
- How Can You Deal with Your Hyperactive Child?
- Activities and Games to Keep Hyperactive Kids Busy
- The Parents’ Guide to Art Therapy Techniques & Projects
- ADHD Parenting Tips
- Learn what you can do to manage your child’s behavior and deal with common ADHD challenges.
- ADHD and your family
- ADHD parenting tip 1: Stay positive and healthy yourself
- Tip 2: Establish structure and stick to it
- Tip 3: Encourage movement and sleep
- Tip 4: Set clear expectations and rules
- Tip 5: Help your child eat right
- Tip 6: Teach your child how to make friends
7 Effective Games & Activities To Handle Hyperactive Kids
By Ekta Sharma Bhatnagar
Is your child hyperactive? Almost every other parent would respond in affirmative. But before you think you can boast of this quality of your child, let’s try to understand it better.
Instability and inattentiveness make it difficult to handle hyperactive kids and more often you see them bouncing from activity to activity with seemingly limitless energy and ease.
You see, a hyperactive kid may have problems paying attention and sitting still in their seats. Also, they can be impulsive, which means doing things without thinking about the results.
Not a desirable trait, agree? But think about it! A hyperactive child is not ‘bad,’. It’s just that he/she may just need little more attention and patience to channelise their energy and thought-process.
Here’s how you spot hyperactivity in kids:
- Hyperactive kids have difficulty in listening to or following directions.
- They can’t sit back in their seats and move around a lot.
- They talk too much, or interrupt other people’s conversations.
- Hyperactive kids fail to follow instructions, or do a step-by-step routine.
- They are impulsive, overenthusiastic and bouncing with energy.
- They can easily become worried, frustrated, angry, and sad.
Hyperactivity is related to the brain. Hence, the best way to handle hyperactive kids is to make him/her relax and take things one at a time. So, help your child to pay attention, focus better, and be less hyper. Wondering how? We have a few tips that will help you deal with hyperactive kids better.
RELATED: 13 mind-blowing tips to increase concentration in kids
5 Easy Ways To Handle Hyperactive Kids
1. Channelise Their Energy
Find means to vent their energy and calm their minds. Children need to run around and play a lot.
Invest in classes that help them use up their energy, physical activity, and soothe the mind.
You can also get your child activity boxes to help them engage meaningfully and focus on play-based activities.
This will help boost their memory skills and concentration- not to forget skill development as well!
There are several companies that produce discovery boxes – one such company is Flintobox. They make theme-based activity boxes for children between 2 to 16 years of age.
Each month’s theme is unique and they produce a limited number of boxes every month, you can check the boxes here.
2. Talk To Your Child In A Simple Manner
Give them your complete attention and lend an ear to their concerns, interests, and apprehensions. Also get them to make to-do lists and break down the instructions given to them.
3. Help Them Deal With Their Feelings
Children with hyperactivity find it difficult to handle anger, sadness, and worry. Help them to deal with their feelings and tell them what is good and what is bad.
4. Make Them Relax
Minimize distractions and screen time. Take them out to green surroundings. Just be patient, take a deep breath, be determined to calm him/her, and put his/her high energy levels to good use.
5. Behaviour Therapy
Reward them for good manners, listening to you, sticking to a routine, encourage them to establish order, and let them know what is expected of him/her. The best way to deal with a hyperactive kid is to engage his mind and body and channelise their energy.
Also, TV and video games do little to channel energy and are a major distraction.
7 Games & Activities To Keep Hyperactive Kids Busy And Motivated:
Karate/Martial Arts To Channelise Energy
‘Karate’ means empty-handed.
When kids learn karate, they do different postures that help in channelising their energy.
It also helps them to concentrate and calm their minds.
Building confidence, learning to focus, and developing enhanced coordination are just a few of the benefits of martial arts for hyperactive kids.
Outdoor Sports For Constant Activity
Outdoor sports like football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and badminton are great games for hyperactive kids as there is no standing around time in these games.
Your children will be constantly moving and using large muscle groups, keeping them focused and energy-drained. They also get to learn about team spirit, sportsmanship, and competition.
However, if you can’t put them for any outdoor sports, make them take up running, which offers constant movement, health benefits, and a sense of accomplishment.
Music To Calm The Mind
Music is a great way to unwind after school. Music exercises both sides of the brain at the same time, thus calming the brain, which in turn makes your kids multi-task and store information better.
When they are part of a band, or sing/play chorus, they learn also to be a team player.
Swimming For Self-Discipline
Another effecrive activity is swimming. Olympic gold-medalist Michael Phelps was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 9.
He took up swimming to master a sport and vent his energy.
Swimming is a great exercise for hyperactive kids as it offers constant movement, self-discipline, and calorie-burn.
Theatre For Creative Engagement
Drama or theatre is a creative activity to engage the hyperactive kids. It needs practice, co-ordination, sharp memory, stage confidence, and people skills. It also helps the kids to take personal challenges ,and hone their public-speaking skills.
Nature Trails To Soothe The Body
Nature has its own ways to soothe a hyperactive child.
And trust us, kids will love to be in natural surroundings.
Trekking, hiking, rock-climbing, rowing, etc. are great options for your bundle of high-energy.
Games like scrabble, chess, matching pairs, etc. are great exercises for the brain.
These are engaging options for hyperactive kids as they make them sit in one place and concentrate.
These types of games are ideal for kids with short-attention-span and high energy as it helps them build their confidence and interest.
Please note: Let’s understand so much, not all active kids are hyperactive. Hyperactivity is different.
Share your ideas to handle hyperactive kids in the comments section below. What do you think are other ways to reduce hyperactivity in kids?
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ADHD in Children
ADHD has nothing to do with intelligence or talent. What’s more, kids with attention deficit disorder often demonstrate the following positive traits:
Creativity – Children who have ADHD can be marvelously creative and imaginative. The child who daydreams and has ten different thoughts at once can become a master problem-solver, a fountain of ideas, or an inventive artist. Children with ADHD may be easily distracted, but sometimes they notice what others don’t see.
Flexibility – Because children with ADHD consider a lot of options at once, they don’t become set on one alternative early on and are more open to different ideas.
Enthusiasm and spontaneity – Children with ADHD are rarely boring! They’re interested in a lot of different things and have lively personalities. In short, if they’re not exasperating you (and sometimes even when they are), they’re a lot of fun to be with.
Energy and drive – When kids with ADHD are motivated, they work or play hard and strive to succeed. It actually may be difficult to distract them from a task that interests them, especially if the activity is interactive or hands-on.
Is it really ADHD?
Just because a child has symptoms of inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity does not mean that he or she has ADHD. Certain medical conditions, psychological disorders, and stressful life events can cause symptoms that look like ADHD. Before an accurate diagnosis of ADHD can be made, it is important that you see a mental health professional to explore and rule out the following possibilities:
Learning disabilities or problems with reading, writing, motor skills, or language.
Major life events or traumatic experiences (e.g. a recent move, death of a loved one, bullying, divorce).
Psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Behavioral disorders such as conduct disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and oppositional defiant disorder.
Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, neurological conditions, epilepsy, and sleep disorders.
Helping a child with ADHD
Whether or not your child’s symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are due to ADHD, they can cause many problems if left untreated. Children who can’t focus and control themselves may struggle in school, get into frequent trouble, and find it hard to get along with others or make friends. These frustrations and difficulties can lead to low self-esteem as well as friction and stress for the whole family.
But treatment can make a dramatic difference in your child’s symptoms. With the right support, your child can get on track for success in all areas of life. If your child struggles with symptoms that look like ADHD, don’t wait to seek professional help. You can treat your child’s symptoms of hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity without having a diagnosis of attention deficit disorder. Options to start with include getting your child into therapy, implementing a better diet and exercise plan, and modifying the home environment to minimize distractions.
If you do receive a diagnosis of ADHD, you can then work with your child’s doctor, therapist, and school to make a personalized treatment plan that meets his or her specific needs. Effective treatment for childhood ADHD involves behavioral therapy, parent education and training, social support, and assistance at school. Medication may also be used; however, it should never be the sole attention deficit disorder treatment.
Parenting tips for children with ADHD
If your child is hyperactive, inattentive, or impulsive, it may take a lot of energy to get him or her to listen, finish a task, or sit still. The constant monitoring can be frustrating and exhausting. Sometimes you may feel like your child is running the show. But there are steps you can take to regain control of the situation, while simultaneously helping your child make the most of his or her abilities.
While attention deficit disorder is not caused by bad parenting, there are effective parenting strategies that can go a long way to correct problem behaviors. Children with ADHD need structure, consistency, clear communication, and rewards and consequences for their behavior. They also need lots of love, support, and encouragement.
There are many things parents can do to reduce the signs and symptoms of ADHD without sacrificing the natural energy, playfulness, and sense of wonder unique in every child.
Take care of yourself so you’re better able to care for your child. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, find ways to reduce stress, and seek face-to-face support from family and friends as well as your child’s doctor and teachers.
Establish structure and stick to it. Help your child stay focused and organized by following daily routines, simplifying your child’s schedule, and keeping your child busy with healthy activities.
Set clear expectations. Make the rules of behavior simple and explain what will happen when they are obeyed or broken—and follow through each time with a reward or a consequence.
Encourage exercise and sleep. Physical activity improves concentration and promotes brain growth. Importantly for children with ADHD, it also leads to better sleep, which in turn can reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Help your child eat right. To manage symptoms of ADHD, schedule regular healthy meals or snacks every three hours and cut back on junk and sugary food.
Teach your child how to make friends. Help him or her become a better listener, learn to read people’s faces and body language, and interact more smoothly with others.
School tips for children with ADHD
ADHD, obviously, gets in the way of learning. You can’t absorb information or get your work done if you’re running around the classroom or zoning out on what you’re supposed to be reading or listening to. Think of what the school setting requires children to do: Sit still. Listen quietly. Pay attention. Follow instructions. Concentrate. These are the very things kids with ADHD have a hard time doing—not because they aren’t willing, but because their brains won’t let them.
But that doesn’t mean kids with ADHD can’t succeed at school. There are many things both parents and teachers can do to help children with ADHD thrive in the classroom. It starts with evaluating each child’s individual weaknesses and strengths, then coming up with creative strategies for helping the child focus, stay on task, and learn to his or her full capability.
Parenting a Child With ADHD
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How ADHD Affects Kids
ADHD causes kids to be more distractible, hyperactive, and impulsive than is normal for their age. ADHD makes it harder for kids to develop the skills that control attention, behavior, emotions, and activity. As a result, they often act in ways that are difficult for parents manage.
For example, because they are distractible, kids with ADHD may:
- seem not to listen
- have trouble paying attention
- not follow directions well
- need many reminders to do things
- show poor effort in schoolwork
Because they are hyperactive, kids with ADHD may:
- climb, jump, or roughhouse when it’s time to play quietly
- be disorganized or messy
- fidget and seem unable to sit still
- rush instead of take their time
- make careless mistakes
Because they are impulsive, kids with ADHD may:
- interrupt a lot
- do things without thinking
- do things they shouldn’t, even though they know better
- have trouble waiting, taking turns, or sharing
- have emotional outbursts, lose their temper, or lack self-control
At first, parents might not realize that these behaviors are part of ADHD. It may seem like a child is just misbehaving. ADHD can leave parents feeling stressed, frustrated, or disrespected.
Parents may feel embarrassed about what others think of their child’s behavior. They may wonder if they did something to cause it. But for kids with ADHD, the skills that control attention, behavior, and activity don’t come naturally.
When parents learn about ADHD and which parenting approaches work best, they can help kids improve and do well.
What Parents Can Do
Parenting is as important as any other part of ADHD treatment. The way parents respond can make ADHD better — or worse.
If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD:
Be involved. Learn all you can about ADHD. Follow the treatment your child’s provider recommends. Keep all recommended therapy appointments. If your child takes ADHD medicines, give them at the recommended time. Don’t change the dose without checking with your doctor. Keep your child’s medicines in a safe place where others can’t get to them.
Know how ADHD affects your child. Every child is different. Identify the difficulties your child has because of ADHD. Some kids need to get better at paying attention and listening. Others need to get better at slowing down. Ask your child’s therapist for tips and ways you can help your child practice and improve.
Focus on teaching your child one thing at a time. Don’t try to work on everything at once. Start small. Pick one thing to focus on. Praise your child’s effort.
Discipline with purpose and warmth. Learn what discipline approaches are best for a child with ADHD and which can make ADHD worse. Get coaching from your child’s therapist on ways to respond to your child’s behaviors. Kids with ADHD might be sensitive to criticism. Correcting their behavior is best done in a way that’s encouraging and supportive rather than punishing.
Set clear expectations. Before you go somewhere, talk with your child to explain how you want him to behave. Focus more energy on teaching your child what to do, rather than reacting to what not to do.
Talk about it. Don’t shy away from talking with your child about ADHD. Help kids understand that having ADHD is not their fault, and that they can learn ways to improve the problems it causes.
Spend special time together every day. Make time to talk and enjoy relaxing, fun activities with your child — even if it’s just for a few minutes. Give your child your full attention. Compliment positive behaviors. Don’t over-praise, but do comment when your child does something good. For example, when your child waits her turn, say, “You’re taking turns so nicely.”
Your relationship with your child matters most. Kids with ADHD often feel they’re letting others down, doing things wrong, or not being “good.” Protect your child’s self-esteem by being patient, understanding, and accepting. Let your child know you believe in him and see all the good things about him. Build resilience by keeping your relationship with your child positive and loving.
Work with your child’s school. Talk with your child’s teacher to find out if your child should have an IEP. Meet often with your child’s teacher to find out how your child is doing. Work with the teacher to help your child do well.
Connect with others for support and awareness. Join a support organization for ADHD like CHADD to get updates on treatment and info, etc.
Find out if you have ADHD. ADHD is often inherited. Parents (or other relatives) of kids with ADHD might not know they have it too. When parents with ADHD get diagnosed and treated, it helps them be at their best as parents.
Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD Date reviewed: November 2017
How to Handle a Hyperactive Child without Losing Your Mind
Want to know how to handle a hyperactive child? I’ve got you covered with three big strategies and over 20 simple activities that can change everything for hyperactive kids. Improve focus, attention, learning, and communication!
Sometimes my house can feel a little crazy. On any given day, I can be washing dishes at the sink (I spend a lot of time there) while I watch what seems like pure chaos unfolding around me. I try to focus on the sound of the rushing water that’s coming out of the spout and not the loud screams and shrills of laughing and playing coming from my boys.
I see my son Isaac running through the living room, down the hallway, and back again, making a loop a few times before heading to the couch and jumping on it, kicking all the throw pillows onto the floor (and on top of the toys that are scattered across the carpet). He’s yelling or singing in a big loud voice, I can’t tell which as I turn to scrub crusty food off of another plate.
But, it’s not long before I feel him whiz by me on his way upstairs only to be found moments later dragging all sorts of pillows and stuffed animals downstairs to jump and crash on.
This level of activity, energy, or whatever you want to call it, can continue unceasingly, and if I try to interrupt or yell from the sink it seems as though not a person can hear me. I begin to wonder, “Am I invisible?”
Au contraire, I need not worry long because now somebody is hurt, crying, and calling for me.
Is your home anything like mine?
Some will say, “Oh that’s boys.” But, I’ve seen girls have just as much energy, although maybe not as often. Other’s might say, “You’re not parenting him right, get him under control.” And, still other’s will wonder, “Is he hyperactive?”
Why is My Child Hyperactive?
Personally, I think the word “hyperactive” is a big blanket term to describe any kid that is particularly active, like my Isaac. We use it to describe all sorts of behaviors, usually ones we don’t fully understand. To make it clear for this post, let’s define a hyperactive child as one that frequently seeks out movement and can have difficulty sitting still.
What makes some kids hyperactive? Well, there are tons of factors that include:
- Temperament – It’s who they are!
- Genetics – The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, if a parent was “hyperactive”, well, you get it.
- Diet – Can play a role if its a high carb/sugar diet or possible food sensitivities are involved.
- Environment – If it’s wild and disorganized in a room, it often promotes the same kind of actions.
- Season – Winter months may increase hyperactivity because of less free play outdoors.
- Sensory processing – How a child takes in the sensations from their environment is totally unique and kids that are hyperactive may be wanting more of those sensations simply because of how their brain works! (More on this in a minute…)
For most “hyperactive” children a combination of these reasons are likely in play. And, the reasons can vary from day to day and week to week. On top of that, some kids can be hyperactive on particular days or all of the time.
The Game Changer for Hyperactive Kids…
While any of the above reasons can affect a child’s hyperactivity, there’s one common denominator that’s often at the root of a hyperactive child or toddler, and that’s sensory. It’s almost impossible for hyperactivity and sensory not to go together, they’re like peanut butter and jelly. Hyperactivity in and of itself is looking for more activity whether that means a child is tipping back on their chair, jumping on the couch again, or getting up from the table 20 times during dinner.
See the brain is looking for MORE sensations and it won’t be satisfied until it gets it. That’s why our hyperactive kids keep pushing the envelope, seeming not to hear or understand us when we tell them to sit down.
It seems like they’re being bad or defiant. This makes us feel like bad parents, and I am speaking from personal experience.
BUT, there’s a huge bright light at the end of the tunnel and that’s using sensory strategies to help us deal with and handle a hyperactive child or toddler.
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How to Handle a Hyperactive Child
When I think about how to handle a hyperactive child, three different solutions come to mind. They are sensory-based strategies that I’ve used as an OT and as a mom, but more importantly, they work! Let’s take a look:
1. Offer activities with rhythm and structure – It’s incredibly important for hyperactive and energetic kids to have an outlet for all that energy. Stifling it, or trying to, often will make it worse. But, sometimes a free for all can make things much worse as well. There’s a difference between going outside and running around everywhere and running back and forth between two points. The latter is putting some structure to an open activity that may otherwise just make your child more hyperactive.
Then, to kick it up a notch, if you combine some structure with rhythm, the rhythm is often even more calming and organizing to the body and mind (this is one of the sensory tricks). For instance, singing a rhythmic song like, “The Ants Go Marching One by One” or a military chant-like phrase, “March, one, two, three” over and over again to a specific beat during the activity.
I know that may sound strange but think about the sound of that military chant repeating in your mind right now. Do you want to lift your feet to march, do you feel a sense of calm? Those are common experiences and when we pair songs or chants with a rhythmic, repeatable beat to motions like jumping, marching, or running, it can calm kids down quickly.
Now take those ideas of structure and rhythm and apply it to these activities:
- Playing sports – This is built in structure. So many sports your child can play with you, a sibling, or friend in the backyard or safe space in the home. With tons of sports to choose from, you have endless options.
- Obstacle course – These don’t have to be too complicated, think about simple ideas like crawling over and under objects, walking on a line, and hopping to the finish line. for more inspiration.
- Going for a walk or run
- Jumping on a trampoline – as in my above example, try singing or simply counting, which is also great for steady focus. We have one like this.
- Climbing – Use a staircase on hands or knees, a jungle gym, a tree, or if you’re lucky enough a rock wall.
2. Free Active Time – Yes, the total opposite of what I just told you. While structure is important for a hyperactive child, so is free play. A time when they can run wildly if they choose without anyone telling them to stop.
Sometimes it’s best to lead with a period of time where they have the time and space to run wild and do what they like. Great if this can be outside, but inside the home can work too. Set some ground rules about safe behavior, and if it’s hard to watch, maybe there are some dishes you can do!
Here are some specific ideas for free active time you could use with your child:
- Run around outside
- Play on swingset
- Jump on couch or bed
- Have a dance party
- Roughhouse or playfully wrestle together
If your child is really ramped up instead of calmed down after some free play, then you may want to transition to either the first or third strategy afterward.
3. Relax – This is usually the last strategy I use for a hyperactive kid and especially before bed or during activities they need to sit as still for as possible. These aren’t always necessary, it depends on your child and the day. But, hyperactive kids can have a particularly hard time going from a high energy level to a lower one, using some calming activities, like these can make a huge difference:
- Rocking – either in a swing, hammock, or rocking chair
- Swinging – think porch swing, not a contest for who can go the highest on the swingset (which is a great activity and can be helpful in its own right, but if you’re going for relaxation, that may not be it).
- Dim lights – don’t underestimate this subtle change. Sometimes just dimming the lights can help calm a child.
- Organized room – an organized space with toys and items put away can also have a big impact.
- Music – think soft, slower music.
- Changing light – at times my kids use these slow changing night lights/diffusers to watch as they drift off to sleep. A lava lamp can have the same effect.
Having a hyperactive child can be exhausting, in every sense of the word, but don’t lose hope, these three solutions, either used independently or together can have a tremendous impact on your child’s life. One caveat though, don’t give up on these too soon. It’s so important that you try all of these strategies multiple times. It will take you and your child some time to figure out what’s working and what’s not.
Tips for the Hyperactive Toddler
While everything above definitely applies to the younger crowd, toddlers can be a bit of their own beast, so I wanted to share a couple of extra tips for hyperactive toddlers:
Use sensory bins – Might be best to try this after some structured movement time, but many kids will become very attentive and focused on exploring different textures, often for longer than they’ll do other activities. Head over to my list of sensory bins for ideas and how to make them educational too.
Riding toys – Most toddlers have one, have it out often and encourage your hyperactive toddler to ride it and push it around. It’s fantastic sensory input that will likely calm them down.
Pile the couch cushions on the floor – All kids love this, but it’s especially perfect for toddlers. The climbing and jumping will meet their sensory needs.
Decrease screen time – I know how much the tv or tablet can be a lifesaver, but watch how often your hyperactive toddler is watching it. More and more studies are showing that screen time actually increases hyperactivity (See this article). I’ve noticed in my house, with much older kids that after we watch a movie, which isn’t that often, it’s like someone just lit a fire under their behinds. Their hyperactivity is through the roof!
You’ve got a plan now for how to deal with a hyperactive child or toddler! But, if you haven’t got it already you need to grab my Sensory Red Flags You Might Be Missing Printable. Whether sensory is new to your or not it’s an important checklist to have.
More Help for How to Handle a Hyperactive Child
Genius Activities for Sensory Seeking Kids
8 Steps to Keep Your Child Seated for Meals
Powerful Proprioceptive Activities that Calm, Focus, & Alert
Epic Messy Play List that’s Sensory-filled, Inspiring, and Easy!
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Alisha Grogan is a licensed occupational therapist and founder of Your Kid’s Table. She has over 14 years experience with expertise in sensory processing and feeding development in babies, toddlers, and children. Alisha also has 3 boys of her own at home. Learn more about her here.
5 Ways To Turn Your Child’s Hyperactivity Into Productivity
There’s a fine line between a naturally active child and a child who is affected by hyperactivity disorder.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) tends to become noticeable early on in childhood, at around 2 or three years old, but because most kids are naturally prone to daydreaming, fidgety behavior and a short attention span, ADHD is often not recognized until much later on in life.
The Signs Of ADHD
Signs of ADHD include what are normally looked at as behavioral problems such as difficulty concentrating or following instructions and the inability to control inappropriate behavior such as running in the halls or constantly interrupting conversations.
It can be frustrating for a child with ADHD to be criticized or punished for such behavior if parents, teachers or other caretakers aren’t aware of their disorder.
Monitor Your Child
For this reason, it is important to pay close attention to unusually rowdy or seemingly disrespectful behavior. If behavioral problems are exhibited only occasionally in certain situations, your child is probably just going through normal “kid behavior.”
However, if you notice that your child is having difficulty concentrating, both at school and at home, and consistently seems to have trouble following directions or controlling unruly behavior; it may be time to speak to your healthcare provider about possible causes.
While ADHD isn’t usually seen as a positive thing, it doesn’t have to be a disability. By finding ways to channel hyperactivity into productive activities, you can teach your child to use their energy as fuel for creativity.
Here are five ways to meet your child’s need for more physical movement and help them to harness their energy and gain more control over their impulses.
Physical activity is essential for a child with ADHD, so pretty much any sport from biking to swimming will be beneficial for your child, although there are some sports that are even more effective than others.
Martial arts for example, like Karate, Kung Fu or Tae Kwon Do can be extremely beneficial due to the perfect balance of mental concentration along with physical exertion that they require. This can help kids to learn how to focus their energy and learn self-discipline and control.
Team sports like football or basketball are also great, as they require the child to get involved and work together with others (which is good for their social skills).
2. Dance, acting or music classes
Depending on where your child’s interests lie, learning a musical instrument, taking drama classes or learning coordination through dancing can all be excellent afterschool activities.
Research has shown that playing a musical instrument requires both sides of the brain to work at the same time, which helps train the brain to multi-task, while dancing allows kids to get their energy out while still remaining in control of their movements.
Acting, while less physical than dance or sport, helps a child to practice their memorization skills and get in touch with their creative side. Being allowed to act out different characters and scenes helps them to channel their energy and emotions into something productive.
3. Arts and crafts
Arts and crafts projects are great for teaching children to act on their ideas and turn creative concepts into something concrete. Whether they enjoy painting, model building, woodworking or sewing, taking an idea and seeing it through to completion can be extremely motivating for any child but especially for a child with ADHD.
It shows them that they are capable of using all their energy a driving force for something creative and productive.
4. Camping and outdoor activities
There is nothing like fresh air, nature and physical activity to help your hyperactive child to use their energy for something positive. Taking your child camping is a great opportunity to teach them about nature and help them develop some practical skills.
If you don’t have the time to personally take your child on nature walks or go hiking and camping as often as you’d like, scouting camps are a great way to ensure that your child doesn’t miss out on those great experiences. Scouting also helps kids to learn team work and improved social skills.
5. Helping around the home
If your child comes home from school practically bouncing off the walls with energy, don’t sit them down in front of the TV or allow them to play video games.
Instead, ask them if they’d like to help you get dinner ready or do a few simply chores like dusting or vacuuming. Kids often enjoy this kind of quality time with a parent, and it also gives them a sense of responsibility and helps them take pride in their work.
About the Author
Jane Bongato is part of the team behind Open Colleges, Australia’s provider of counselling courses and childcare. Jane is an early childhood educator with a background in Psychology and closely works with children who have special needs for about 6 years now. She enjoys reading, painting or meeting friends during her spare time.
Not all children with ADHD have hyperactivity, but for those that do, sitting still is an almost impossible feat. The constant physical activity can be frustrating for parents and a nightmare for teachers when hyperactivity causes a child to constantly disrupt the class. But for children with hyperactivity, physical activity is not the only aspect. Their minds often don’t shut down. Thoughts go a million miles an hour and in many different directions. To help a child learn to manage or reduce hyperactivity includes strategies to help lower physical activity levels and to calm thoughts.
The following are 10 ways parents can help reduce hyperactivity.
1. Provide a good breakfast.
If your child’s teacher complains that he is frequently disrupting the class by fidgeting or getting up from his seat, start your child off with a good, healthy breakfast. Hunger and blood-sugar peaks and valleys can make a child more hyperactive.
2. Teach deep breathing/yoga/tai chi/meditation.
While many of the strategies are things a parent can do to help their child, it is also important to teach your child methods for self-regulation. Deep breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, or meditation all help a child learn to slow down their thoughts and their bodies. Work with a professional if you aren’t sure how to teach your child these different methods of relaxation.
3. Take a walk.
For moments of high activity at home, taking a walk outside can help your child calm down. Being outside and regular exercise have both been shown to reduce ADHD symptoms. If your child is still young, plan a daily walk around the block into your routine. If he is older, have him take a short walk outside before settling down to do homework or another quiet time activity.
4. Use a boredom box.
Hyperactivity zooms when boredom sets in. Create a box of activities geared toward your child’s interests. The box might contain dress-up clothes, art supplies, Legos, models, or whatever activity tends to hold your child’s interest. To keep the box interesting and novel, switch items once in awhile and once he has lost interest, put the box away until it is needed again.
5. Routine and structure.
Make sure your days, even weekends and vacations, follow a routine. Children with ADHD thrive in structured environments, when they know what to expect. Allow for transitional time in between activities to help your child move from one to another
6. Use music.
Soothing music, such as classical music, can help some children calm down. Experiment with different types of music to find out what works for your child. Use music in the background for times when activity levels should be low, such as homework time, dinner time, or before bedtime.
7. Create a quiet time area.
Create a space in your house for your child to retreat to during “quiet time.” You could use a bean bag chair and have plenty of books, puzzles, and coloring books to keep your child busy and quiet.
8. Exercise every day.
Add exercise to your child’s daily routine. Making sure your child gets at least 20 minutes of exercise each day can help reduce ADHD symptoms all day – and reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Even during the cold winter months or on rainy days, try to find indoor exercises for your child. Many of the video games have an exercise game to help your child keep moving and entertained.
9. Stay calm yourself.
Children react to your reaction. If you get upset, frustrated, or angry, their hyperactivity levels may increase. Take a few deep breaths, go into the other room, and take a short break if you need one. Staying calm and reacting with a neutral voice will help your child remain calm.
10. Provide fidget alternatives.
For children who seem eternally restless or must fidget whenever they are trying to sit still, provide fidgeting alternatives to help them release energy and keep moving without disturbing others. Your child might sit still for longer periods of time if he has a stress ball or other object in his hand he can manipulate. Chewing gum may also help (but usually isn’t allowed in school.)
While hyperactivity can cause inappropriate behavior in some situations, remember, hyperactivity is also seen as a positive trait. Many adults with ADHD appreciate their endless energy and feel they are able to accomplish much more than those without hyperactivity. Help your children learn to harness the excessive energy and use it to help them accomplish their goals.
Safe, Productive Movement Ideas for Hyperactive Students
Many children with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD) are in constant motion. In school, hyperactive children squirm in their seats, jiggle their feet, tap their pencils, and talk incessantly. They might even get up and roam around the classroom. One recent study of boys with ADHD found they moved about the room eight times as often as other boys, and made twice as many arm motions.
Hyperactive behavior isn’t a choice, but an expression of a brain-based biological disorder. Hyperactive students also have problems with impulse control — among other things, they can’t resist the impulse to move. You can tell them to sit still or stop fidgeting or talking, but within minutes they’ll be at it again.
The best way to help hyperactive children? Channel excess energy into constructive activities, or provide ample opportunities for kids to burn it off.
How Can I Deal With a Hyperactive Child at School?
- Keep in mind that a child with ADHD may lag in social maturity. Even if he’s on target academically, think of him as being two years younger than his classmates — and work with him accordingly.
- Build in movement throughout the school day. In kindergarten and first grade, get the whole class stretching, jogging in place, and singing songs accompanied by hand and body motions. With older students, create opportunities for the hyperactive students to move around. Have them hand out supplies, collect papers, and deliver messages to the school office. Responsibilities like these help kids feel special while allowing them to blow off steam.
- Alternate high- and low-energy lessons. Follow a spirited music class with a period of creative writing. Schedule a subject that requires great concentration — such as math — after recess or physical education.
- Provide alternatives to the standard classroom seat. Some children do better work if they’re allowed to move while doing their lessons; not having to focus on keeping still frees up energy for learning. Have them stand at raised tables at the back of the classroom, or allow them to pace quietly while thinking through a problem. During literature or free reading, let students sit on pillows, in armchairs, or on the floor.
- Recognize the breaking point. Even if you’ve provided ample downtime between lessons, some children with ADHD can be still for only a short time. If you sense that a hyperactive student is reaching his limit, let him get up to stretch his legs — even in the middle of a test.
How Can I Address Hyperactivity in Children At Home?
- Acknowledge your child’s need to move. Allow her to take a quick break from the dinner table to get rid of surplus energy — and to rejoin the family when she’s able. Use the same strategy at sporting events, religious services, and other settings that require kids to sit still for extended periods.
- Encourage physical activity before school. Have your child take the dog for an early morning run or ride her bike to school. Inclement weather? Jumping rope or bouncing a ball provides a great energy release for children with hyperactive tendencies. Exercise is great for children with ADHD.
- Get a rocking chair — the rhythm can be calming. Place it in a quiet spot where your hyperactive child can sit to read. If he’s a serious squirmer, try CoreDisk, an inflatable 12-inch cushion that lets a child wiggle while sitting at a desk or table ($21, schoolspecialty.com).
Strategies to Combat Hyperactivity in Action
THE WIGGLE METHOD: “I had one of my students with ADHD sit on an exercise ball during class. He could wiggle back and forth without standing up, and, for the first time, he was able to complete his work consistently. Now I have three or four students sitting on balls!”
-Martha Highfill, third-grade teacher, Oxnard, California
FIDGETING BRINGS FOCUS: “My middle-school son fidgets in order to focus. At first, his teachers didn’t understand how fidgeting could be helpful, and it was hard to find ways for him to keep his hands busy without bothering classmates. What finally worked? Doodling, bendable pencils, origami — and educating the teachers.”
–Kris, Grand Island, Nebraska
Updated on August 27, 2019
If you’ve got a problem-child at home who can’t seem to sit still or listen mindfully, then that may be a sign of hyperactivity. It gets even worse if you hear complaints from the teachers of your child’s recklessness and lack of care both inside and outside the classroom. Here’s everything you need to know about hyperactivity in children and tips for dealing with them.
What is Hyperactivity in Children?
Hyperactivity in children is characterized by reckless behaviour and too much activity that stems from receiving a lack of sufficient attention. Hyperactive kids are prone to never get tired, can’t focus or have short attention spans in general. Hyperactivity in children results in poor academic performance, lack of socialization and in severe cases, even complete withdrawal from participation in group activities, thus leading to depression, frustration, and poor self-esteem.
What Causes Hyperactivity in Kids?
Hyperactivity in kids is caused when there is an imbalance in the production of the two neurotransmitters – adrenaline and dopamine – in the brain. Hyperactivity primarily stems from ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and most cases of hyperactivity are linked to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
The other causes of hyperactivity include the environment and the families kids belong to. Here’s how hyperactivity is caused in kids in households-
Authoritarian Parenting – When parents become too restrictive with their rules and do not allow the child to be flexible such as – when a kid gets constantly punished for failing to get his grades up and is scolded instead of being talked to, that’s a sign of authoritarian parenting. Authoritarian parenting lowers children’s confidence, weakens self-esteem and all that lack of mental upbringing translates to poor results and hyperactivity in the classroom. Since kids feel inferior, they vent out their frustration by failing even more or being hyperactive at home or in school.
Neglectful Parenting – If you constantly neglect your kid and don’t tend to his needs, then he won’t have a person or parent to turn to for advice when he’s in trouble or faces something outside his comfort zone. Neglectful parenting also imbibes a lack of sense of certainty and children sometimes don’t know the consequences of their actions, thus acting reckless and hyperactive without a second care in the world.
Overprotective Parenting – Do you clothe your kids, decide how much pocket money they get or in general, dictate how they proceed through every minute of their life? That’s what we call overprotective parenting. Kids need freedom and autonomy to a certain degree and when you invade their space every waking minute of their lives, they become frustrated, uncomfortable and hyperactive.
Signs and Symptoms of Child Hyperactivity
The hyperactive child symptoms and signs in kids are as follows-
- Impulsiveness or a lack of self-control
- Lack of focus and extremely short attention spans.
- Interrupts conversations constantly and shares their thoughts aloud
- Too much motor activity and exhibition of uncontrolled movements
- Unable to sit still for a few seconds to minutes
How is Childhood Hyperactivity Diagnosed?
There are no specific signs or symptoms of hyperactivity since most pre-schoolers and young children are hyperactive to a certain degree. However, these are some ways your doctor may diagnose childhood hyperactivity-
- Through the review of family and medical history
- Asking daycare givers, pre-school teachers, and neighbours for daily reports
- He may ask for a record of your child’s daily activities and nutrition info
- Through a behavioural therapy consultation
How Can You Deal with Your Hyperactive Child?
Here are some tricks and tips on how to control hyperactive child-
- Take him for a walk – Walking not only rejuvenates the mind but also the soul. Besides losing weight and improving cardiovascular health, walking ensures that your child will stay in tip-top shape and also enhance his focus. Walking is a way to let loose his wandering mind and enjoy the scenery along the way as well.
- Yoga And Meditation – Your child has abundant energy and a meaningful way to get him to calm down is to channel it in a positive direction. Yoga and meditation, when combined, will teach him how to channel that energy and live life mindfully. He will develop an awareness of his surroundings, stay focused in the present and finally, improve his attention span and long-term memory too.
- Household Chores – Household chores may seem boring at first glance, but they can transform into a fun family activity when done together. Split your chores amongst your kids, be it gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning the kitchen, cooking or whatever else you need running in the house. Doing household chores inculcates a sense of discipline, responsibility and improves self-esteem too!
- Good Reads – Giving your children a collection of interesting books to read will foster their learning, memory and improve intelligence too. The more you learn, the more you grow but at the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them too much. Make sure you start off with a few books and let them pick one or two, to begin with. Once they finish, they can proceed to choose the next few ones.
- Change Diet – Nutritionally speaking, ADHD and OCD can be cured to a certain extent (or totally in some cases) when you alter your child’s diet. Make sure they skip processed foods, added sugars, salt and anything that comes packaged or looks unhealthy on the labels. Give them fresh organic home cooked meals that are free of preservatives and artificial flavours. Eating clean goes a long way towards improving mood, lifestyle, and overall physical and mental wellbeing.
- Maintain Balance – Create a system of routines and rewards in the household that’s a bit flexible in nature. You don’t want to bore your kid to death by instilling sheer discipline and spoil his mood that way. Good parents know when to enforce consequences for failing to meet goals while spending enough time with their kids, on the other hand, to reinforce and remind them that they’re still okay once they realize their mistakes. Be an authoritative parent, not an authoritarian or dictator-type one.
- Never Neglect – Don’t leave your kids all alone every day. Be involved with their schoolwork, daily activities and give them some of your attention which they so crave. Hyperactivity stems from receiving a lack of attention and by showing appreciation in moments when you catch them doing something good or productive, they calm down and are reassured of their efforts. Hyperactivity automatically goes away. Just make sure not to be too quick to judge and focus on the positives while ignoring the negatives.
- Give Breaks – Don’t deny them recess or breaks. When you let the feeling of hyperactivity being allowed in the classroom sink into them, they calm down and respond appropriately.
- Allow Second Chances – Encourage the child to pay attention to detail and review their work before submitting or showing. Give second chances to them if they make mistakes and seem to be stumbling academically.
- Talk To Them – Allow your child to talk about their feelings and share how they feel on a day-to-day basis. Give them closure and a sense of freedom in sharing their thoughts and expressions with you. Give them attention, basically.
Activities and Games to Keep Hyperactive Kids Busy
Here are a couple of activities and games to keep hyperactive kids busy-
- Share Activities With Others – Assign a collaborative project with another kid in the classroom. By pairing the child up with a buddy, you reduce fidgeting and also increase their tolerance for working from a seated position.
- Martial Arts – If your child’s got excess energy, then it’s time to put it to some good use. Enrol him in a Martial Arts class like Kung Fu or traditional Karate and watch him get fit, confident and calm in the process.
- Give A Stress Ball – Stress balls are squishy and aid in developing their attention and focus. A stress ball is a wonderful way to tackle child sensory integration problems effectively.
- Play Games – Whether it’s indoors or outdoors, a little bit of gaming with your kids won’t hurt. Try chess, ludo, Chinese checkers and UNO with them. If they’re feeling a bit adventurous, then take it outdoors with games like table tennis, badminton, soccer, and cricket.
- Swimming – Swimming is an amazing activity for hyperactive kids. It builds self-discipline, burns calories, provides room for constant movement and is fun too! Who knows? You may even have a professional athlete in the making as he masters the art of swimming and gets good at it.
Hyperactivity is a natural phase in children and sometimes we have to pay extra attention to it before it becomes a full-blown problem later in life. Remember these tips, be patient with your child, and you’ll see results soon enough.
Attention Seeking Behaviour in Children
The Parents’ Guide to Art Therapy Techniques & Projects
Art therapy is a form of alternative treatment based on the premise that art helps express emotions – anxiety, sadness, or anger – that are sometimes difficult to put into words. Art therapy helps some children (and adults) who communicate their thoughts more easily though visual images and artistry – and who are more comfortable with pictures than they are with words.
“As a parent, you likely quickly recognize struggles in how your child approaches schoolwork. As an art therapist, I will notice the same attention difficulties in how a child approaches an art task,” says Stacey Nelson, LCPC, LCPAT, ATR-BC. “The process of making art can reveal problems with focus, motor control, memory, managing emotions, organization, sequencing and decision making. It also has the potential to improve emotional well-being, develop problem solving skills, and enhance social interaction.”
During a typical art therapy session, a child works on structured projects — a process that helps him work through feelings, resolve conflicts, and develop important skills. After school and during the summer, when routines and schedules allow for more flexibility, parents can carve out time to use the techniques of art therapy to build skills and encourage a child to express emotions.
Through art therapy, children with ADHD can build mental flexibility, problem-solving skills, and communication practice as they explain what they made to a parent or friend. Art also creates natural moments for positive social interactions, like sharing materials, sharing space, making compliments, or even making suggestions. Here are some ideas for making it work for your family this summer.
Setting the Stage to Make Art
Every creative environment begins with a positive and motivating attitude. The benefits of art therapy emerge from the process of making art, not the visual appeal of the final product, so be certain to focus on your child’s effort rather than the outcome.
Create a workspace with few visual distractions. Put away all electronics. Make sure your art supplies are in good condition, washable, and easy to access.
Limit the choices to two or three for each material or craft. Try creating a visual boundary around the workspace by marking off the perimeter with blue painter’s tape to help focus inside the box.
A simple, relaxing task can help a child with ADHD release excess energy and enter a creative state of mind.
A mandala is a circle with a pattern inside it that represents the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism. Drawing mandalas can help to create calm energy and promote focus. Some art therapists begin their sessions by asking a child to trace a round, flat object – like a plate – on a blank piece of paper, then fill it with color and designs.
A child can draw simple scribbles, a face, images of the moon, or whatever sparks her creativity.
Give a child a piece of paper and a marker. Ask him to scribble all over one side of the paper with his dominant hands. Then, flip the paper over, and scribble on the other side using the non-dominant hand.
Ask the child to write down a worry he wants to put aside while making art, then tell him to tear up the paper using both hands.
“As a parent, you might also ask your child what a particular feeling or experience looks like,” says Stacey Nelson. “They may draw it realistically or abstractly, but it can be a starting off point of them telling you their point of view.”
Sample Art Projects
The best art projects comprise a series of simple steps, and incorporate movements like pounding clay or walking across the room to get another material. When working with a younger child, write down the steps and check off each one as your complete it. With older children, reflect on the steps after a project is completed by asking how they made it.
1. Summertime Snowman
Materials: Clay, Small Sticks, Paint or markers
- Roll out three balls of clay
- Stack the balls
- Add details like a face, buttons, and arms
2. Ripped Paper Collage
Materials: Paper, drawing tools, tape or glue
- Think of something that makes you feel angry, and draw it quickly
- Rip up the paper
- Use some of the pieces to make a collage or another piece of art that makes you feel happy
3. Create Your Own Coloring Sheet
Materials: Paper, and drawing tools
- With a black or dark colored marker, close your eyes and draw a scribble
- Open your eyes
- Color in each section of the scribble with a different color
4. Circle Weaving
The motion of weaving can be calming. This can also create a soft fidget for children who benefit from keeping their hands busy.
Make the Circle Loom
- Draw a circle on paper
- Cut out circle
- Make pencil marks an even distance apart at the perimeter of the circle
- Cut a notch at each pencil mark
Thread the Loom
- (Back) Tape yarn to the back of the loom and insert it through any notch
- (Front) Wrap the yarn over to the front and insert through the opposite notch
- (Back) Continue wrapping the yarn across the back, and insert the yarn through the notch next to the notch used in Step 5
- (Front) Wrap the yarn over to the front and insert it through the opposite notch (which is next to the notch used in Step 6
- Continue wrapping the yarn over the front and back of the loom until you get to the last notch
- Bring the yarn to the back of the loom, cut and tape it to the back
Start the Weaving
- If using a sewing needle, thread another piece of yarn. If not, wrap 2 inches of the yarn’s tail with tape
- Cut off a piece of yarn to weave (about an arm’s length)
- In the center of the loom, tie a double knot of the threaded yarn, to a line of yarn of the loom (called the warp)
- Weave over and under each line of the warp, making your way around the circle. After a few rows, a pattern will appear
Add Yarn or Change Color
- Double knot the end of the old yarn to the beginning of the new yarn
- Continue adding more yarn of different colors as you wish
Remove Weave from the Loom
- Cut the lines of yarn at the back of the loom. Be sure to cut close to the center
- Tie two adjacent pieces of yarn; double know them
- Continue knotting two adjacent pieces of yarns until you have knotted all the loose ends
- String beads to the loose pieces of yarn
- Encourage children to choose beads that symbolize calm. Or, encourage children to assign a gratitude to each bead
Circle weaving (2016). Retrieved from http://www.instructables.com/id/Circle-Weaving/?ALLSTEPS.
For More Ideas
Read the Art Therapy Sourcebook, by Cathy Malchiodi.
Visit the ADDitude Pinterest Board for inspiration and ideas, and please add your own recommendations.
Look up easy clay or dough recipes that children can shape, then bake. Find a wooden project to build, or buy a pack of balsa wood to glue together in an interesting way. Get some big paper, and try the Jackson Pollack style of flicking paint. If a child has a favorite character, like Super Mario, ask him to draw Mario on an adventure, or paint Mario expressing a feeling he has. Or, have him build a home for Mario to relax in. Start from the child’s natural interests, then incorporate other things.
Getting Kids to Talk About Their Art
“Making art as a family provides natural opportunities for positive social interactions like sharing materials, sharing space, making compliments or even making suggestions if someone needs some help with problem solving,” says Stacey Nelson. “Sometimes it’s easier to talk about our artwork than ourselves.”
To get children to open up about their creations, start with these questions and comments:
- Tell me about your picture.
- Is there a story that goes along with your drawing?
- What feeling would you put with your picture?
- Is there a title?
- How did you make this?
- Where did your ideas come from?
- What was the most challenging part of making this?
“For instance, if children draw and tell you about an experience of being angry at school, you can ask what the worst part was for them. You can ask them what helped them get through it,” suggests Stacey Nelson. “Then, highlight some skills or some resiliency that they might not have noticed in themselves. It can provide an opportunity for you to provide some support.”
It’s much more important to comment on positive behavior than it is to discuss how the art looks. For example, say, “I really like how you…”
- …followed the steps carefully.
- …focused for a long time.
- …kept working even when you were frustrated.
The most important thing is to have fun. It doesn’t matter if a project doesn’t work out perfectly the first time – it’s an opportunity to try again tomorrow. As Stacey Nelson reminds parents, “Remember, it’s only paper and art materials are meant to be used up and enjoyed.”
Updated on October 27, 2019
ADHD Parenting Tips
Learn what you can do to manage your child’s behavior and deal with common ADHD challenges.
Life with a child or teen with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) can be frustrating, even overwhelming. But as a parent you can help your child overcome daily challenges, channel their energy into positive arenas, and bring greater calm to your family. And the earlier and more consistently you address your child’s problems, the greater chance they have for success in life.
Children with ADHD generally have deficits in executive function: the ability to think and plan ahead, organize, control impulses, and complete tasks. That means you need to take over as the executive, providing extra guidance while your child gradually acquires executive skills of their own.
Although the symptoms of ADHD can be nothing short of exasperating, it’s important to remember that the child who is ignoring, annoying, or embarrassing you is not acting willfully. Kids with ADHD want to sit quietly; they want to make their rooms tidy and organized; they want to do everything their parent says to do—but they don’t know how to make these things happen.
If you keep in mind that having ADHD is just as frustrating for your child, it will be a lot easier to respond in positive, supportive ways. With patience, compassion, and plenty of support, you can manage childhood ADHD while enjoying a stable, happy home.
ADHD and your family
Before you can successfully parent a child with ADHD, it’s essential to understand the impact of your child’s symptoms on the family as a whole. Children with ADHD exhibit a slew of behaviors that can disrupt family life. They often don’t “hear” parental instructions, so they don’t obey them. They’re disorganized and easily distracted, keeping other family members waiting. Or they start projects and forget to finish them—let alone clean up after them. Children with impulsivity issues often interrupt conversations, demand attention at inappropriate times, and speak before they think, saying tactless or embarrassing things. It’s often difficult to get them to bed and to sleep. Hyperactive children may tear around the house or even put themselves in physical danger.
Because of these behaviors, siblings of children with ADHD face a number of challenges. Their needs often get less attention than those of the child with ADHD. They may be rebuked more sharply when they err, and their successes may be less celebrated or taken for granted. They may be enlisted as assistant parents—and blamed if the sibling with ADHD misbehaves under their supervision. As a result, siblings may find their love for a brother or sister with ADHD mixed with jealousy and resentment.
The demands of monitoring a child with ADHD can be physically and mentally exhausting. Your child’s inability to “listen” can lead to frustration and that frustration to anger—followed by guilt about being angry at your child. Your child’s behavior can make you anxious and stressed. If there’s a basic difference between your personality and that of your child with ADHD, their behavior can be especially difficult to accept.
In order to meet the challenges of raising a child with ADHD, you must to be able to master a combination of compassion and consistency. Living in a home that provides both love and structure is the best thing for a child or teenager who is learning to manage ADHD.
ADHD parenting tip 1: Stay positive and healthy yourself
As a parent, you set the stage for your child’s emotional and physical health. You have control over many of the factors that can positively influence the symptoms of your child’s disorder.
Maintain a positive attitude. Your best assets for helping your child meet the challenges of ADHD are your positive attitude and common sense. When you are calm and focused, you are more likely to be able to connect with your child, helping him or her to be calm and focused as well.
Keep things in perspective. Remember that your child’s behavior is related to a disorder. Most of the time it is not intentional. Hold on to your sense of humor. What’s embarrassing today may be a funny family story ten years from now.
Don’t sweat the small stuff and be willing to make some compromises. One chore left undone isn’t a big deal when your child has completed two others plus the day’s homework. If you are a perfectionist, you will not only be constantly dissatisfied but also create impossible expectations for your child with ADHD.
Believe in your child. Think about or make a written list of everything that is positive, valuable, and unique about your child. Trust that your child can learn, change, mature, and succeed. Reaffirm this trust on a daily basis as you brush your teeth or make your coffee.
As your child’s role model and most important source of strength, it is vital that you live a healthy life. If you are overtired or have simply run out of patience, you risk losing sight of the structure and support you have so carefully set up for your child with ADHD.
Seek support. One of the most important things to remember in rearing a child with ADHD is that you don’t have to do it alone. Talk to your child’s doctors, therapists, and teachers. Join an organized support group for parents of children with ADHD. These groups offer a forum for giving and receiving advice, and provide a safe place to vent feelings and share experiences.
Take breaks. Friends and family can be wonderful about offering to babysit, but you may feel guilty about leaving your child, or leaving the volunteer with a child with ADHD. Next time, accept their offer and discuss honestly how best to handle your child.
Take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and find ways to reduce stress, whether it means taking a nightly bath or practicing morning meditation. If you do get sick, acknowledge it and get help.
Tip 2: Establish structure and stick to it
Children with ADHD are more likely to succeed in completing tasks when the tasks occur in predictable patterns and in predictable places. Your job is to create and sustain structure in your home, so that your child knows what to expect and what they are expected to do.
Tips for helping your child with ADHD stay focused and organized:
Follow a routine. It is important to set a time and a place for everything to help the child with ADHD understand and meet expectations. Establish simple and predictable rituals for meals, homework, play, and bed. Have your child lay out clothes for the next morning before going to bed, and make sure whatever he or she needs to take to school is in a special place, ready to grab.
Use clocks and timers. Consider placing clocks throughout the house, with a big one in your child’s bedroom. Allow enough time for what your child needs to do, such as homework or getting ready in the morning. Use a timer for homework or transitional times, such as between finishing up play and getting ready for bed.
Simplify your child’s schedule. It is good to avoid idle time, but a child with ADHD may become more distracted and “wound up” if there are many after-school activities. You may need to make adjustments to the child’s after-school commitments based on the individual child’s abilities and the demands of particular activities.
Create a quiet place. Make sure your child has a quiet, private space of their own. A porch or a bedroom work well, as long as it’s not the same place as the child goes for a time-out.
Do your best to be neat and organized. Set up your home in an organized way. Make sure your child knows that everything has its place. Lead by example with neatness and organization as much as possible.
Avoid problems by keeping kids with ADHD busy!
For kids with ADHD, idle time may exacerbate their symptoms and create chaos in your home. It is important to keep a child with ADHD busy without piling on so many things that the child becomes overwhelmed.
Sign your child up for a sport, art class, or music. At home, organize simple activities that fill up your child’s time. These can be tasks like helping you cook, playing a board game with a sibling, or drawing a picture. Try not to over-rely on the television or computer/video games as time-fillers. Unfortunately, TV and video games are increasingly violent in nature and may only increase your child’s symptoms of ADHD.
Tip 3: Encourage movement and sleep
Children with ADHD often have energy to burn. Organized sports and other physical activities can help them get their energy out in healthy ways and focus their attention on specific movements and skills. The benefits of physical activity are endless: it improves concentration, decreases depression and anxiety, and promotes brain growth. Most importantly for children with attention deficits, however, is the fact that exercise leads to better sleep, which in turn can also reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
Find a sport that your child will enjoy and that suits their strengths. For example, sports such as softball that involve a lot of “down time” are not the best fit for children with attention problems. Individual or team sports like basketball and hockey that require constant motion are better options. Children with ADHD may also benefit from training in martial arts (such as tae kwon do) or yoga, which enhance mental control as they work out the body.
Insufficient sleep can make anyone less attentive, but it can be highly detrimental for children with ADHD. Kids with ADHD need at least as much sleep as their unaffected peers, but tend not to get what they need. Their attention problems can lead to overstimulation and trouble falling asleep. A consistent, early bedtime is the most helpful strategy to combat this problem, but it may not completely solve it.
Help your child get better rest by trying out one or more of the following strategies:
Decrease television time and increase your child’s activities and exercise levels during the day.
Eliminate caffeine from your child’s diet.
Create a buffer time to lower down the activity level for an hour or so before bedtime. Find quieter activities such as coloring, reading or playing quietly.
Spend ten minutes cuddling with your child. This will build a sense of love and security as well as provide a time to calm down.
Use lavender or other aromas in your child’s room. The scent may help to calm your child.
Use relaxation tapes as background noise for your child when falling asleep. There are many varieties available including nature sounds and calming music. Children with ADHD often find “white noise” to be calming. You can create white noise by putting a radio on static or running an electric fan.
The benefits of “green time” in kids with attention deficit disorder
Research shows that children with ADHD benefit from spending time in nature. Kids experience a greater reduction of symptoms of ADHD when they play in a park full of grass and trees than on a concrete playground. Take note of this promising and simple approach to managing ADHD. Even in cities, most families have access to parks and other natural settings. Join your children in this “green time”—you’ll also get a much-deserved breath of fresh air for yourself.
Tip 4: Set clear expectations and rules
Children with ADHD need consistent rules that they can understand and follow. Make the rules of behavior for the family simple and clear. Write down the rules and hang them up in a place where your child can easily read them.
Children with ADHD respond particularly well to organized systems of rewards and consequences. It’s important to explain what will happen when the rules are obeyed and when they are broken. Finally, stick to your system: follow through each and every time with a reward or a consequence.
As you establish these consistent structures, keep in mind that children with ADHD often receive criticism. Be on the lookout for good behavior—and praise it. Praise is especially important for children who have ADHD because they typically get so little of it. These children receive correction, remediation, and complaints about their behavior—but little positive reinforcement.
A smile, positive comment, or other reward from you can improve the attention, concentration and impulse control of your child with ADHD. Do your best to focus on giving positive praise for appropriate behavior and task completion, while giving as few negative responses as possible to inappropriate behavior or poor task performance. Reward your child for small achievements that you might take for granted in another child.
Using Rewards and Consequences
- Reward your child with privileges, praise, or activities, rather than with food or toys.
- Change rewards frequently. Kids with ADHD get bored if the reward is always the same.
- Make a chart with points or stars awarded for good behavior, so your child has a visual reminder of their successes.
- Immediate rewards work better than the promise of a future reward, but small rewards leading to a big one can also work.
- Always follow through with a reward.
- Consequences should be spelled out in advance and occur immediately after your child has misbehaved.
- Try time-outs and the removal of privileges as consequences for misbehavior.
- Remove your child from situations and environments that trigger inappropriate behavior.
- When your child misbehaves, ask what he or she could have done instead. Then have your child demonstrate it.
- Always follow through with a consequence.
Tip 5: Help your child eat right
Diet is not a direct cause of attention deficit disorder, but food can and does affect your child’s mental state, which in turn seems to affect behavior. Monitoring and modifying what, when, and how much your child eats can help decrease the symptoms of ADHD.
All children benefit from fresh foods, regular meal times, and staying away from junk food. These tenets are especially true for children with ADHD, whose impulsiveness and distractedness can lead to missed meals, disordered eating, and overeating.
Children with ADHD are notorious for not eating regularly. Without parental guidance, these children might not eat for hours and then binge on whatever is around. The result of this pattern can be devastating to the child’s physical and emotional health.
Prevent unhealthy eating habits by scheduling regular nutritious meals or snacks for your child no more than three hours apart. Physically, a child with ADHD needs a regular intake of healthy food; mentally, meal times are a necessary break and a scheduled rhythm to the day.
- Get rid of the junk foods in your home.
- Put fatty and sugary foods off-limits when eating out.
- Turn off television shows riddled with junk-food ads.
- Give your child a daily vitamin-and-mineral supplement.
Tip 6: Teach your child how to make friends
Children with ADHD often have difficulty with simple social interactions. They may struggle with reading social cues, talk too much, interrupt frequently, or come off as aggressive or “too intense.” Their relative emotional immaturity can make them stand out among children their own age, and make them targets for unfriendly teasing.
Don’t forget, though, that many kids with ADHD are exceptionally intelligent and creative and will eventually figure out for themselves how to get along with others and spot people who aren’t appropriate as friends. Moreover, personality traits that might exasperate parents and teachers may come across to peers as funny and charming.
It’s hard for children with ADHD to learn social skills and social rules. You can help your child with ADHD become a better listener, learn to read people’s faces and body language, and interact more smoothly in groups.
- Speak gently but honestly with your child about their challenges and how to make changes.
- Role-play various social scenarios with your child. Trade roles often and try to make it fun.
- Be careful to select playmates for your child with similar language and physical skills.
- Invite only one or two friends at a time at first. Watch them closely while they play and have a zero-tolerance policy for hitting, pushing and yelling.
- Make time and space for your child to play, and reward good play behaviors often.