Your child has been bouncing off the walls all week, sometimes almost literally, and it's like trying to contain an energetic puppy in a shoe box. Nothing you do seems to work and you are at wit's end. Hyper children are more than just a handful, they can stress you out so much you might even feel like a failure. This isn't the case and you are not alone. All children are hyper at some point -- it's just a matter of finding out what regulates your child and then to put that plan in action.
Uncage your child by letting him run loose in the wild. Of course, he isn't a wild animal, no matter how it seems, so pick a safe place for him that's easy to supervise. Play games that keep him moving, like "Red light, Green light" or "Tag." Sabina Dosani, author of "Calm Your Hyperactive Child," recommends at least 40 minutes of exercise a day for children 4 years and older. You can provide the exercise in 20-minute chunks.
Fuel your wild child with whole food that will provide him with a steady stream of energy instead of bursts of energy, crashing with sugar or caffeine. Avoid processed food because these products tend to be full of hidden white foods like white sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup and white flour. These cause spikes in blood sugar levels that make a hyper child peak and then crash, which usually makes him moody and irritable. Instead, feed whole food options like multi-grain bread and whole fruits or vegetables chopped into child-size pieces -- no bigger than a 1/2 inch. Dr. William Sears references Dr. C. Keith Conners about calcium levels and hyperactivity. Conners published a study that showed lower levels of calcium in children that were more hyper, so include almonds, milk and yogurt in your child's diet.
Give your child enough time to sleep every night. This includes the time it takes to fall asleep. Some children are asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow and others take an hour to fall asleep. Factor this in when setting up their bedtime routines. Hyper children who don't get enough sleep are more easily wound up and can get a little batty as the day progresses. According to KidsHealth.org, toddlers aged 1 to 3, need 10 to 13 hours of sleep a night while preschoolers need 10 to 12 hours a night. If you child is still napping, his nap time is counted for the total hours slept, during a 24-hour period.
Keep a regular routine at home. This helps hyperactive children stay on a regular sleep schedule. According to the University of Michigan Health System's website, regular routines are particularly important for hyper children with conditions like ADHD. A good routine includes getting up at the same time every day (even on weekends), having a nutritious breakfast, some exercise or socialization activities, followed by lunch and a nap. Supper and the bedtime routine should also be the same time each day. You don't have to the same thing every day or it will get boring (and you'll never get the laundry done), but set aside the same blocks of time each day for certain activities.
Teach your child how to calm himself. This isn't done overnight. Consider it a work in progress. Simple things like sitting with him in a quiet room and focusing on your breathing can help still a hyper child. You can also do yoga together or listen to classical music. At first, expect him to jump up and run around. This task will move in baby steps but over time, he will learn to settle and calm himself.
- Consult your pediatrician if you think your child needs further evaluation.
- Family Matters Parenting Magazine: Hyperactive Children - 3 Proactive Strategies to Calm Your Hyperactive Child
- University of Michigan Health System: ADHD: What Parents Need to Know
- KidsHealth: Caffeine Confusion
- AskDr.Sears: Omega-3 and DHA For Students
- Feeding The Brain: How Foods Affect Children; C. Keith Conners
- Calm Your Hyperactive Child; Sabina Dosani
- KidsHealth: All About Sleep
- HealthChildren.org: What Can I Do to Keep My Child from Choking?
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images