An overly rambunctious and active child can be a challenge to any parent. Every child has the tendency to display hyperactive behavior, and it’s therefore important that every parent understands how to best handle this behavior when it appears.* Hyperactivity and restlessness is the result of a child that is easily bored and who has difficulty with concentration. This does not mean that there is anything “wrong” with the child, it simply means that they have an active and stimulated mind—a mind that can sometimes feel cluttered and unorganized. With the help of parents and caregivers, a hyperactive child can obtain some much needed calm in their lives.

A hyperactive child needs structure and routine. Create a schedule of tasks and chores for a child. These scheduled tasks not only provide an outlet for excess energy, they also increase a child’s feeling of self-worth when the completion of tasks is positively reinforced. With your child’s input, create a fun and interactive way to display this schedule, and a way to indicate when a task has been completed. This schedule need not be limited to household chores, but should include time for creative play and physical exercise. A child who is easily bored needs all parts of their mind stimulated, and cannot feel that their routine is a punishment.

Encourage a well-organized and clutter-free environment…”a place for everything and everything in its place.” A child with an active mind can sometimes feel “messy” with their thoughts, and therefore a clean external environment decreases the tendency for a child to feel internally overwhelmed.

In addition, sugar is a stimulant that can greatly increase the energy levels of an already energetic child. Cut down or eliminate sugary sweets, sodas and juices. Along with the monitoring of diet, encouragement of physical exercise does wonders for a restless child. Again, it’s important to not communicate this as a punishment, but stress the positive and fun aspects of physical activity. Participating in physical play with your children is a good way to model the benefits of exercise. Modeling behavior works far greater than words and demands.

A “frisky” child requires constant and consistent mental and physical activity. It is the lack of stimulation and subsequent boredom that often leads to “acting out” behavior such as emotional outbursts (i.e. temper tantrums) or a decrease of interest in school or social activities. If you as parents are positive in your encouragement and firm in your requirements towards your children with “excess energy”, then EVERYONE will feel a sense of relief and calm that you all desperately desire!

PROBLEM: Children with “excess energy” have difficulty concentrating and focusing on tasks, and have the tendency to be forgetful. These children can often experience intense shifts in mood and can become emotionally overwhelmed quite easily. High- energy children are also easily bored and become restless quite quickly.

SOLUTION: Provide structure and routine for children as well as physical and mental “exercises” as children are easily bored and require constant stimulation. It is essential to create an uncluttered and organized environment for a child with excess energy so as to decrease “mental clutter” and help to provide the calm that an overactive child craves. In addition, eliminate or limit the amount of sugar in the child’s diet, as sugar can act as a stimulant to an already anxious child.

*Children with a tendency to display “excess energy” should not be quickly labeled “hyperactive”, as all children have the potential to display hyperactive behavior from time to time. However, children that have a pervasive difficulty with concentration, forgetfulness, restlessness and mood swings could possibly benefit from meeting with a specialist in child psychology.

Author's Bio: 

Matt Casper, M.A. MFT; Matt is a licensed Psychotherapist with a private practice in Los Angeles, California. He graduated cum laude from Duke University where he studied personality psychology, comparative religion and film. He received his master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the California Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology and Psychoanalysis and has worked with a diverse population including individual adults, teens and children as well as with groups and couples. Matt has been involved with the Maple Counseling Center, a non-profit counseling clinic, as well as with the Julia-Ann Singer Therapeutic School where he worked with children who fall somewhere on the Autism spectrum, and has served as a supervisor for teenagers at TEEN LINE, a hotline and website that provides teen-to-teen outreach for teenagers facing emotional challenges. Matt is also the author of a series of 12 books in the "Emotes!" series which aims to help children identify, express and manage their emotions.