In a broad sense, kids who are constantly fidgeting, not able to sit quietly, and unable to concentrate are called hyperactive. There are occasions when this is caused due to some physical or mental conditions, one being Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD. Sometimes, it could only be a passing phase and kids overcome this condition gradually, as they grow up.
For extreme cases, where the child causes self-harm or ends up harming or hurting others, or when it affects their everyday life, education, social interaction, or overall development, there must be professional and therapeutic intervention.
There are a few general features of hyperactivity:
i) Not able to be calm and sit at a place
iii) Easily distracted
iv) Excessive physical activity
v) Excessive talking
vi) Not able to wait for their turn
vii) Unable to focus
ix) Not follow instructions
x) Poor sense of danger
xi) Impulsive behavior
There are, however, certain ways in which hyperactive kids can be controlled. Today we would discuss 10 great tricks that work well:
1) Exhaust the energy-Hyperactive kids are full of energy. However, it is not wise to opt for medication for calming them down, unless doctors prescribe. Instead, try and channelize their energy in a constructive way. Outdoor games, dance, yoga, swimming, running are the best options for exhausting the abundant energy. When they are tired enough, they would settle down for a while.
2) Concentration building games and social interactions– Make the hyperactive kids play games that help in developing concentration like puzzles, chess, Sudoku, lego, building blocks, and the like. Buy them interesting games that also require them to focus. Encourage group play and park play. Call over friends at home or visit friends to improve the child’s social interactions. Maintain an absolute zero-tolerance policy against pushing, hitting, or any kind of harmful or disruptive behavior.
3) Activities that increase attention span– Engage the child in activities that improve the attention span considerably. For toddlers, activities as joining dots, cutting paper along a line with a pair of scissors, counting coins are effective in developing attention span. Let them practice these regularly under supervision. Grown-up kids could be made to stand on one leg, peel peas, separate different kinds of raw lentils mixed up together, and other such activities that would help them hold on to their attention for a longer time.
4) Drawing /coloring and music: Colouring and drawing in themselves are great attention building exercises. Buy color books to toddlers and make them practice coloring within lines every day. The older they grow, coloring must get more detailed and intricate. Drawing in any form develops concentration to a large extent. Learning to play musical instruments and singing boost attention. These are great ways to keep children occupied for a certain amount of time, with high focus.
5) Breathing exercises and meditation: Though it is a tough job to make kids meditate, once they learn, it helps immensely in developing focus and concentration. Meditation soothes nerves and calms the mind. Breathing exercises increases oxygen flow to the brain. Take help from experts initially.
6) Reduce screen time and distractions: Electronic gadgets induce hyperactivity. Reduce screen time as much as possible. The recommended screen time for kids is 1 to 2 hours a day. Be strict on this as it is crucial for the development of brain functions. At the same time, try and keep the hyperactive kids in calm and quiet environments with as few distractions as possible, especially during study time or when they are engaged in any activity.
7) Smaller instructions: Hyperactive kids find it difficult to fathom and remember complex instructions. Try and break the instructions into smaller parts. Tell them what is to be done, step by step. For example, instead of telling them “bring me the book from the second drawer of the cupboard in the bedroom,” say, “ Go to the bedroom, open the second drawer of the cupboard, take out the book and give it to me”. This would also reduce careless mistakes on the child’s part.
8) Sleep: Sleep curbs hyperactivity. To ensure the child gets enough sleep, put him or her to bed at a fixed time. Lessen the activity level before bedtime. You may make your child listen to soothing music or read a bedtime story before sleeping. The kid must not watch electronic gadgets before going to bed. There must be a buffer of at least an hour. Have minimum light in the bedroom and let it be as dark and quiet as possible.
9) No sugar or caffeine: Reduce the intake of sugar and caffeine by the kid. These cause hyperactivity. White flour, preservatives, and artificial colors are also thought to be bad for hyperactivity. Serve them more of fruits, home-cooked food with lots of green vegetables, and other necessary nutrients instead.
10) Calm them: make every effort to calm the hyperactive little ones. Hold them in an embrace, cuddle at bedtime, give head and foot massage. Have interesting conversations on various topics. While you interact, encourage them to maintain eye contact. If they look away, touch them on the shoulder or hands to draw their attention to you.
The above tricks would work only when parents practice them with utmost patience and calmness. However frustrating a situation might be, parents cannot afford to lose their cool. Overcoming or controlling hyperactive kids is a gradual process and it cannot happen overnight.
Whether the hyperactivity is a temporary phase or happening due to any physical or mental condition, you must first accept your child as he or she is. Trying to forcibly change them or punish them would not help in the long run. It could be more damaging than a cure. A child can be molded to a great extent by proper upbringing. Maintain a positive attitude and deal with them with a lot of perseverance.
As mentioned earlier, do consult doctors and therapists if your hyperactive kid becomes a hindrance to his or her learning or all-round development. The earlier you seek intervention, the better is the chance of improvement