Parenting can be challenging, whether or not you have a hyperactive child. All kids can cause you to want to tear your hair out at times, or make a quick break for Tahiti. It is especially difficult when you have a child whose activity level is very high and who might be labeled hyperactive. The suggestions for helping your child may work equally well with children in general, since they may help to promote a sense of calm in your household.
One of the most important aspects of helping your hyperactive child is to provide structure in your household routines. It can help a child to know that he or she must always brush their teeth after breakfast, that bedtime remains relatively static, that most of the time dinner takes place at a specific hour, and that there are particular outcomes for certain disagreeable behaviors. Routine helps provide the hyperactive child with a game plan for how life will occur.
Consistency in parenting is as equally important as routine. Kids do need to know that bad behavior like hitting, biting, destroying property or talking back will result in the same consequences. Make consequences realistic for the child. A five-year-old hyperactive child who hits should not be sent to his/her room for an hour. Attention span won’t last that long and it’s not appropriate to a child of this age. Rather, consider a minute time out per age. A five year old would get five minutes of time out, and you might consider even less for hyperactive children. Always keep consistent in how you respond to disagreeable behaviors, and keep in mind that a child may not be able to help certain behaviors.
As a parent, nothing can fuel hyperactive children more than your anger. Angry responses on your part like screaming or hitting will tend to increase negative behavior in your hyperactive child. If you feel angry all the time, help your child by helping yourself with therapy. Your emotional stability can positively affect your child.
You can also do things with a child to help them learn self-calming behaviors. DVDs or tapes that offer exercises for kids like yoga and tai chi can have an extraordinary effect on the hyperactive child. It’s true they may not get it at once, and it can take some time to show positive benefits. Some kids may not even make it through a whole tape at first. Yet if you consistently do these tapes with your child, you’ll help them learn focus and meditation techniques in the long run.
Hyperactive means overactive, and there cannot be enough stress placed on the need to provide hyperactive children with lots of exercise opportunities. Especially when you see a child getting overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to take exercise breaks. Do jumping jacks with your child for a few minutes, take a quick walk around the block, or race to the mailbox and back. Give your child plenty of times during the day for unstructured exercise times.
Also, provide a quiet time space. When a kid literately can’t stay still, convert a small closet or part of a child’s room into a space with a few books, quiet toys, and perhaps some papers for coloring with pens or crayons. Kids can learn to self-limit and impose “quiet time” on themselves. When they need to take a break they can, with special activities only available in the quiet time area.
Bedtime can prove especially challenging for the hyperactive child. It can help to have soothing routines available at night. A warm bath each night can prove relaxing. Avoid excess stimuli, like television or video games for at least an hour prior to beginning a bedtime routine.
Lastly, give some thought to your child’s diet. Protein rich foods tend to serve the hyperactive child well. Try to avoid simple carbohydrates, like white flour, which convert to sugars in the body. Your child typically does not need this kind of quick energy boost. Instead offer snacks of foods like peanut butter on whole grain toast, slices of lean meat, and dairy products (no sugar added) like yogurt. These foods have been shown to help reduce hyper behavior and can be your allies.