What I’ve learned as a parent of 3 is that each one of them approaches life from such a different perspective. It keeps me on my toes that’s for sure! My oldest child is often hyperactive and that seemed to be escalating while she was in Kindergarten. So instead of panicking (okay, I panicked a little bit) we just started to research and put into practice some valuable techniques that helped us communicate with her without losing our ever-loving minds in the process. Ahem.
#1 Get Them To Look You In The Eyes
She has this spectacular brain. It’s so spectacular that I think it’s in about 12 different places at once and listening to the sound of my voice is low on her priority list. So when I need to tell her something important or ask her to do something I first say “Honey, look at me”. Sometimes I have to repeat myself a couple of times but I can’t tell you what a difference this makes in effectiveness. I then often follow up by making her acknowledge me by saying “Yes Mommy” or “Okay”.
It may sound silly but there’s something about eye contact that suddenly gives my voice the priority.
#2 Get Them Outside
We live in Colorado where there’s beautiful sunshine almost all year long, but even when it’s cold outside we just bundle them up (or not according to the photo above!) because we are adamant about getting the kids to play outside. Kids are just sedentary way too many hours of the day (especially if they are school age children) and for a hyperactive child this is a recipe for disaster. Fresh air, room to run around and a place they can use their voices to their hearts content – that’s a little slice of heaven for them.
#3 Find Their Focus
Believe it or not, many kids who are hyperactive have some activity that they will have laser focus on, you just have to figure out what it is. I tried dance for my little one and she does love it but when I would peek in the room I could see that she was barely checked in…making silly faces in the mirror and sometimes distracting the other kids. So we decided to capitalize on her love for music and tried guitar lessons.
Holy moly, she sits still and silent for her guitar teacher like I’ve never seen her do with anyone else. She’s tired when she’s done and it just puts her in a calm space.
(Options that don’t require spending any money might be puzzles, legos, drawing or coloring)
#4 Diet and Nutrition
I know I know, you might hate me for this one but I can’t stress it enough. The moment we found out that her hyperactivity and inattentiveness was affecting her performance in school I made the decision to change her diet. Her Dad is gluten intolerant so it wasn’t a far stretch (also given some other symptoms) to think that she might be too. We saw some changes immediately (mostly physical) and slowly, over time we also saw what was almost like a ‘fog’ lifted from her mind. It’s as though part of the barrier that was making it difficult to communicate was slowly disappearing.
For some people it’s dairy, for some it’s gluten, for some it’s processed foods but let me just say this – for almost every child it’s gonna be sugar. Going gluten free was not the end all be all, we also have to monitor her sugar (which, let’s face it, is HARD). Every time you turn your back someone is giving your child sugar so really we just do the best we can. It’s hard on days when she has too much, it’s like her brain is buzzing and she can’t sit still. Those are the days she spends a lot of time outside 🙂
We also give her Omega 3’s for children and Focus Fizz and use essential oils in moderation that help keep her balanced. Please note that every child is different and I think it’s important to discuss any dietary or nutrition changes with your pediatrician. These are just the things that have worked well for us. At the very least, eating a balanced diet with minimal processed food and sugar will be beneficial no matter what.
#5 Use Your Imagination (and theirs) And Get Creative
We have what we call ‘witching hour’ in our house. It’s right about the end of the workday (my husband and I both work from home) right before dinner. The kids are tired, restless and usually starting to fight. The house is also upside down at this point. Witching hour might not be the appropriate term because one hour doesn’t cut it. Getting ready for bed is just as crazy. So during those times my husband often uses the most creative ways to get their attention and in turn get the job done. He gets creative which engages their imaginations and then suddenly the task at hand is fun actually utilizes the hyperactivity.
For instance, the other night he pretended to be a Drill Sergeant and the kids were his soldiers. They had to salute him, say ‘Yes Sir!” and complete their tasks perfectly and in a timely manner. Suddenly picking up their toys and getting ready for bed was a whole new ballgame.
During the Olympics he played a commentator and the kids were athletes in competition. I have never seen them move so quickly to get their pajamas on!!! They were gleeful and compliant all at once.
Kids who are hyperactive are often mistaken for being disobedient and get a bad rap. But the truth is they are smart and amazing and just need to be approached a little differently. With some patience and understanding and employing these techniques we have transformed our relationship with our daughter. We’re doing our best to help her channel her energy and embracing what makes her special!
Author: Jennifer Faris is a photographer, writer, mom of 3 littles and wife to a rock star (at least in her eyes). You can see more of her work at www.jenniferfaris.com and follow her on Facebook, Pinterest,Instagram.
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