As every parent of a hyperactive child knows, no two days are the same. While we love our lively offspring with all our hearts, some days make your heart sing, while others can have you on your knees.
Knowing how to minimize meltdowns and misunderstandings comes with experience, but with the guidance parenting technique, you can incorporate tips into your family life that will not only sow the seeds for harmony but help you all flourish.
Many children with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and/or a hyperactive personality can be impulsive, restless, and find it hard to focus. They can also have mood swings and jump from one thing to another. This can have the knock-on effect of them finding it difficult in several situations:
- Following instructions
- Focusing on schoolwork
- Completing tasks
- Being organized
- Social interaction
But their behavior and reaction to situations are often stemming from the internal rather than the external – they’re not just ‘acting up,’ despite what others may think. And let’s face it, 2020 is shaping up to be a head-burner for the most level-headed of us, so you need to go easy on your little people! So what can we do to help them navigate this confusing world?
Here are my Top 5 Tips When it Comes to Coping With a Hyperactive Child
Find a constructive way to channel your child’s energy
Children need to be active, especially hyperactive ones, so find a way that incorporates burning off energy with something fun. Does your child like soccer, martial arts, to read, or is obsessed with a particular topic or animal? Whether you sign them up to a craft activity, afterschool sports club, or make your own games, there are many ways to keep them busy and engaged – and often while they’re still learning. Focusing on sensory and/or play-based activities helps boost their concentration, memory skills, and skill development.
Treat Your Child as an Equal
Ever heard that horrid expression, “Children should be seen and not heard?” It’s an old adage drawn from the Victorian era, and that’s precisely where it should remain! In the olden days, when the world was still black and white, some people thought that showering affection on their children could ‘spoil’ them – the same as holding a baby “too much.” We’ve moved on since then, and research shows quite the opposite. Nurturing and trusting, dependable relationships are imperative for optimal early brain development. In the early months of a child’s emotional development, learning and attachment are woven together. Studies show that when the skin is stimulated from being held, it fires up the right side of the brain, whereby the child learns to trust. It’s crucial for this to happen so that individuals can learn. You should never try and mute a hyperactive and headstrong child.
Routine, Routine, Routine
An army-type regimen of strict rules and regulations can be too stifling for a hyperactive child. But having a regular routine, and keeping everyone on the same page and helping your child feel safe and secure. It could be as simple as waking up, going to bed, brushing teeth and having meals at the same time every day, and/or tasking them with chores. Hyperactive kids like to know what is ‘happening next,’ and it can help prevent boredom.
Be Your Child’s Advocate
When your hyperactive child is diagnosed (or suspected), everyone in your life suddenly becomes an expert on ADD. Parents, in-laws, siblings, teachers, well-meaning friends, the person in the shop down the road… even the way the dog raises his eyebrow can have you wondering if he’s silently judging you! You know your child best, and know what will and won’t work. And with the help of those closest to you and professionals and teachers, you can formulate a plan and ongoing strategy. Don’t be afraid to tell people to back off (however you want to phrase it) when their ‘help’ is unwelcome and potentially damaging.
Don’t Let Your Child Get Overtired
Fatigue makes children ‘testy’ at the best of times, and parents! When your hyperactive child is exhausted or overtired, they can lose self-control. Research shows that ten to 15 percent of children with ADD have trouble getting to sleep, which is twice the rate of those who aren’t hyperactive. Sticking to regular rest and bedtimes can help combat this. If your child is tired (maybe from physical activity or mental stimulation), let your child sleep or have quiet time if required.
Sudden defiant and aggressive outbursts can be frequent with hyperactive children. Up to 40 percent of children with ADD are estimated to be diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). This can result in a pattern of disruptive, angry, and violent behavior. This can also include disruptive behaviors towards authority figures, parents, caretakers, and your child’s peers. ODD tends to be most common in boys before puberty but is equally common in both genders afterward. Working with a guidance parenting coach and cognitive therapist can help you handle your child’s behavior. Remember too that a child whose needs for autonomy and self-direction are being trampled over will appear as though they have ODD. They don’t! They are in the 3R’s (retaliation, rebellion and resistance).
Use ‘Guidance Discipline’ Instead of ‘Traditional’ Discipline
Most children, not just hyperactive ones, respond better with guided discipline, i.e. non-authoritarian discipline. While this kind of discipline can be more time consuming, your child will feel like they’re being treated respectfully and listening to them. This keeps the lines of communication open and means your child will be more cooperative than combative. The key points with guidance discipline are to have a strategy, use positive guidance, and ensure it’s carried out in a nurturing environment. You also need to be mindful of how your child is likely to respond. Remember, how you treat your child is, ultimately, how they learn to manage themselves. For tips on how to use guidance discipline, read the blog I recently wrote about it here.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
It sounds simple, but with a hyperactive child, it’s essential to pick your battles. Losing your cool and shouting at a child suffering from ADD will only cause them to get more anxious and do more harm than good. Sick of always asking them to brush their teeth, put on their socks, shoes, tidy their room, etc? If they’re struggling with following these instructions, help them if you can. Make the activity fun, or offering a distraction or multiple choice can help, i.e, “Would you rather tidy up your room now or in an hour?” It’s also important to accept your child’s limitations but encourage their potential, and not compare them to siblings or peers, especially when it comes to their achievements.
Ask for Help
While everyone has tough days if it’s getting too much and struggling and feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help. You’re probably already getting advice from doctors and specialists. If not, make an appointment with one and keep searching until you find ‘the right fit.’ Don’t be afraid to lean on family and friends too.
You can also glean tips from a parenting coach or reconnect with your child by signing up for a course such as my Guidance Approach to Parenting, which begins September 28th, 2020.
If you enjoyed this blog, check out my blog post to identify if your child is suffering from anxiety. Click here now.