Tips for Reducing Your Child’s Hyperactivity

Having a hyperactive child can be challenging for parents. Hyperactivity is characterized by excessive movement, fidgeting, constant activity, impulsive behavior, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sitting still. While medication is sometimes used, there are many non-pharmaceutical ways parents can help reduce their child’s hyperactive symptoms. Here are some tips:

Create Structure and Routines

Children with hyperactivity thrive when they have structure and predictability in their daily routine. Make a schedule for regular times for meals, naps, school, playtime, family time, etc. Try to stick to it as closely as possible. Having a consistent routine helps give their brain some reprieve from constant change and chaos. Post the schedule for your child to see and go over it with them.

Provide Frequent Breaks

Hyperactive children have trouble sitting still for long periods. During extended activities, provide frequent breaks to get up and move around. If they must sit for class or homework, allowing movement breaks every 10-15 minutes can help. Simple things like a quick walk, jumping jacks, or doing a silly dance gives their body a chance to expend some energy.

Limit Distractions

Reduce any distracting stimuli when you need your child to focus. Turn off electronics, TV, and loud music when they are doing tasks that require concentration. Have them work in an area that is clutter-free and devoid of things that may sidetrack them. Soft, calming music can help some kids focus.

Encourage Exercise and Motion

Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise and movement throughout the day. Plan active playtime both indoors and outdoors. Activities that allow them to run, jump, dance, swim, play sports, etc. can help channel their tendency towards motion. Just be sure they still receive plenty of unstructured playtime as well.

Teach Calming Strategies

Work with your child to identify and practice strategies to induce calm. Breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, imagery visualization, and quiet hobbies like reading, coloring, or crafts can all help counterbalance their high energy. Have them practice using the strategies when they start to feel overwhelmed.

Use Positive Reinforcement

Instead of focusing primarily on the negative behaviors you want to eliminate, try actively praising and rewarding your child when they demonstrate the opposite. For example, if you want them to stop interrupting, take notice and congratulate them when they wait their turn patiently. Positive reinforcement is very effective for kids with hyperactivity.

Make Time for Unstructured Play

While structured routines have their place, make sure your hyperactive child has plenty of time for unstructured free play every day. Playing freely with minimal rules and expectations allows them to burn energy, stimulate creativity, and strengthen social skills. Outdoor playtime is great, but don’t underestimate the value of indoor play as well.

Encourage Adequate Sleep

Lack of sleep exacerbates ADHD and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Set a regular bedtime and pre-bedtime wind down routine. Limit electronics and vigorous play in the hour leading up to bedtime. A calming, predictable routine helps signal the brain it’s time to sleep. Some natural supplements like melatonin can aid sleep, but check with your pediatrician first.

Adjust Their Diet

Sugary, processed foods and chemical additives may negatively impact hyperactivity. Provide your child a diet rich in whole foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats. Make sure they stay well hydrated with plenty of water throughout the day. Limiting caffeine and ensuring they take a daily multivitamin may also help manage symptoms.

Use Behavior Modification Tools

Systems like sticker charts, token economies, and prize bins can motivate hyperactive kids to practice good behaviors. For example, earning a star each time they keep their hands to themselves during story time. Save rewards for your child to “spend” later. This gives immediate feedback and incentive to achieve their goals.

Find Appropriate Outlets

Channel your child’s tendencies towards hyperactivity into healthy physical outlets when possible. Dance classes, youth sports teams, gymnastics, and martial arts classes are great options. Creative outlets like music, theater, arts and crafts can also help them redirect their energy productively.

Schedule One-on-One Time

Make sure to spend some quality one-on-one time talking, listening, and playing with your child each day without distractions. Hyperactive children often act out to get attention. Giving them focused attention and undivided time makes them feel loved and secure. It also builds their confidence and self-esteem.

Parenting a hyperactive child undoubtedly requires a lot of patience and creativity. But implementing some of these tips can help reduce challenging behaviors and set your child up for success. Work closely with teachers and your child’s pediatrician as well. With the right mix of structure, reinforcement and outlet for energy, your hyperactive child can thrive.