Children are full of energy and many months of pandemic uncertainty have likely been a challenge for kids (and their parents) who are used to having access to multiple recreation areas outside of the home. Sometimes, as any parent or guardian would know, high energy and excitement can morph very quickly into a state of hyperactivity.
What causes hyperactivity in some kids?
Hyperactive kids may not have appropriate outlets for their energy. According to licensed pediatric occupation therapist Alisha Grogan, hyperactivity is also often related to sensory issues, which leads them to constantly search for new sensations. If you believe this may be the case with your children, then simply wearing them out with physical activity won’t be enough.
But don’t fret—Grogan, a mother of three boys, has some strategies for tired parents of hyperactive children. Her advice for dealing with hyperactive kids is to come up with activities that fit one of three criteria—though strategies will vary according to your child’s needs.
Offer activities with rhythm and structure
Hyperactive kids are often misjudged as being resistant to rules or organization, however, most of the time just because a child has a lot of energy doesn’t mean that they don’t crave structure (whether they know it or not).
If your child suddenly feels the urge to jump up and down, Grogan suggests also turning up their favorite song so that they can jump to the beat. This will help them move intentionally and with direction, which will occupy more parts of their mind and ultimately lift their mood.
If dancing isn’t your kid’s thing, then try playing sports, going for a hike, climbing a free-standing structure, or setting up an obstacle course. Moving around will get them physically tired, but having a structure to follow will keep them focused.
Offer free active time
To balance out structured play, make sure to also allow time for your kid to run a little wild. This will hopefully give them an outlet for all their restlessness. Take them to the playground or let them jump on the bed—whatever will help them get their excess energy out without getting hurt. Sometimes, it’s okay to let your children indulge in their restless energy for a while and will make it easier for them to cool off later.
Offer a relaxing environment to help with transitions
Kids tend to have trouble with transitions, like going from active time to quiet time, so it’s no surprise that hyperactive kids will struggle just a bit more than most. This makes providing a smooth transition of utmost importance.
Sometimes a hyperactive child will show signs of tiredness yet won’t be able to wind down. Grogan suggests creating a relaxing atmosphere by dimming the lights, rocking them back and forth, or playing calming music. If they truly can’t sit still, then try to do a quiet activity together, like organizing the toys in their room which can help put them (and you) in a calmer state.