Who doesn't shudder at the sight of a seemingly out of control child, emitting high pitched noises, running through a public place? Often, the parent in hot pursuit is a target for judgmental thoughts from on lookers. But why? Why do we pathologize a normal behavior in children and their responding caregivers? Children are developing, growing and experiencing life in a very fresh and rapid way. It is completely normal for them to have bursts of energy causing the need to exclaim, run, throw, jump and sometimes simultaneously. Childhood is the time to learn the life-long skill of how to recognize and respond to regulate impulses.
When parenting is thought about in terms of submission and control, with obedience being the measure of success, low self-esteem and feelings of failure are inevitable, for everyone involved. How we, as caregivers respond to disruptive/hyper behavior, role models emotional regulation for our children. Meeting very normal hyper-behavior creatively, with empathy and compassion creates a blueprint for life long skills.
Some practical tips for dealing with a hyper child: First, notice out loud how your child's behavior is coming across. "It looks like you have a lot of energy!" Your child will either agree or disagree. If they disagree, offer further observation: "I say this because your legs and arms are moving quite a bit and you're talking faster than usual." This will help the child connect the behaviors to inner sensations they are feeling increasing emotional awareness. Next suggest a regulation activity that suits the environment you are in. Give them an outlet and integrate the senses!
Give them some gum to chew on. (anytime, anywhere)
This can be a reward and an incentive.
Suggest a physical activity. (push ups, bear crawl, sprints, etc.)
Make it fun, "how many times can you run to the fence and back in one minute?!"
Provide some fidgets. (Great for school time and restaurants)
It's a great idea to always have a few on hand.
Interlock hands and allow child to push with all their strength into your hands. This gives them an opportunity connect and expel energy without going far. This also satisfies 1 of our 8 senses - our proprioceptive sense
(Great for waiting in lines.)
Get creative! Have fun! Role model!