Parents are often quite frustrated when dealing with hyperactive kids. Even kids who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD, and who are medicated may still pose challenges to any caregiver or to teachers. The following tips may help you better respond to hyperactive kids.
1)Set clear rules, consequences and boundaries for hyperactive kids and for the whole family. If necessary, write out the rules and keep them in a place that is visible the family. Don’t be flexible, because hyperactive kids really need rules they clearly understand. Be sure when introducing rules that you speak directly to your child, using eye contact, and asking the child to repeat back to you what you have told them. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer choices to hyperactive kids, but certain things like hitting, spitting or defiance should result in predictable consequences.
2)Establishing regular routines can help any child, especially hyperactive kids. Children of all types tend to have difficulty transitioning when routines are not clear and consistent. If a child knows that bedtime is at 8:00 pm, then he or she will naturally fall into the pattern of going to bed at 8:00. If bedtime is “anytime,” or if one allows a child with an 8:00 bedtime to go to bed at 9:00, or 8:30, then the child suffers from lack of routine, and will act up accordingly.
Routine activities cannot be stressed enough, but some parents find this means they have little opportunity to be spontaneous. Spontaneity may not serve hyperactive kids very well, but scheduling free time each day can. For very hyperactive kids, these blocks of time should probably be no longer thirty minutes, if you are not planning to actively supervise the child.
3)Use free time to take a trip to the park, read a special book together, take a walk, or simply giggle and be silly with your child or children. These free time moments can be especially helpful in bonding with hyperactive kids. With the exception of following normal household rules, the child is not required to do anything but be with you in a natural and free way.
4) Hyperactive kids are filled to the brim with energy, making focus very difficult. Parents of hyperactive kids often feel that one way to help with this extra energy is to give children lots of opportunities for exercise.
Some parents give their kids running time or install a basketball hoop to let the children burn off extra steam. Others break off a fit by suggesting a round of jumping jacks. While you shouldn’t let a child run to the point of exhaustion, exercise is a very beneficial way to help refocus energies. It is also helpful in improving mood function.
5) Because of the somewhat kinetic energy of the hyperactive child, punishment should not be from restriction of exercise. This is likely to exacerbate a child’s problem. Earning privileges and using positive rather than negative reinforcement is likely to be more effective in the long-term, though it may take some time to establish this.
6) As Dr. Phil McGraw is fond of saying, the best discipline is catching your child doing something good. Children respond to praise, and are more likely to seek your attention by doing something good, if they are reinforced when they behave well. Hyperactive kids frequently receive attention from their parents in negative ways, whether the parent yells, spanks or punishes. Changing to positive reinforcement techniques can retrain a child to desire your positive strokes rather than your negative responses.
7) Most experts recommend that you avoid overstimulation. Keep television watching to a minimum, and don’t allow TV watching at night. Loud or superfluous sounds, or the semi-trance state of TV, can really hype up hyperactive kids. Choose one or two programs a day, and keep it at that. Hyperactive kids benefit by doing, not sitting. So offer lots of hands on activities, in preference to watching hours of TV.
8) It’s important to recognize that hyperactive kids don't always have the control other children possess. Don’t fault a child for what he or she can’t control. Some teachers are fond of saying that if a child can behave appropriately once, they can always do so. This is not the case with hyperactive kids.
Many factors can influence their ability to exhibit self-control. Be sensitive to external factors that can make self-control more difficult, like tension between parents, the death of a beloved pet, a poor sleep the night before or a bad day at school. Illness in children often leads to regression, so watch the health of hyperactive kids as well.