In Parenting

What You Should Know about your Hyperactive Child

It is common for a child to forget what he or she is supposed to do, space out in class, fidget or make inappropriate comments. Thankfully, a normal child does not exhibit hyperactive behavior all the time. Let us help you deal with your hyperactive child.

What’s Hyperactive Behavior?

There are some children who simply cannot sit still and do what they are told. Such children are often very difficult to handle, not only in a school setting but also at home. However, the child may not be fully at fault for being unable to fully control his or her behavior. In such instances, it is likely that a child has a hyperactivity disorder such as ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder)

Symptoms of ADD/ADHD

As Help Guide notes, the three main symptoms of ADD and/or ADHD are:

  • Hyperactivity.
  • Inability to pay attention.
  • Impulsive behavior.

Following is an explanation of these symptoms. It should help you understand if your hyperactive child does indeed have a hyperactive disorder:

Hyperactivity

To start with, it is important to understand that not every active child is a hyperactive one. Boys and girls alike need plenty of opportunity to run, jump, climb, play and engage in other physically stimulating activities. Children who do not get enough physical exercise every day are likely to run wild at school and/or at home. It should also be noted that foods with a high sugar content can give children a buzz and cause them to become more hyperactive than they would be otherwise.

On the other hand, hyperactive children simply cannot pay attention to a task unless they consider it to be particularly fun. For instance, such children may have no problem playing a computer game for hours on end or watching their favorite TV show. However, they cannot focus on a five minute explanation regarding how to do their homework. They fidget, run around the room, bounce off the furniture (literally in some cases) and can never seem to sit still. Hyperactive children may also easily forget what they are told and find it hard to keep themselves organized.

A quick temper is yet another symptom of hyperactivity. A hyperactive toddler or child may hit, yell, kick and/or bite at the slightest provocation.

Inattention

Hyperactive kids are not always running around, unable to sit still. Sometimes they are sitting quietly in class, not making a peep but not paying attention to anything that it is being said either. Such children are essentially off in a world of their own and are not listening to anything that is going on around them. Naturally, this inattention leads to careless mistakes and easily avoidable accidents.

Parents can often tell when their children are not paying attention to anything that is being said. Such children have a spaced out look, cannot remember what they were just told and find it nearly impossible to finish projects.

Impulsive Behavior

Almost all small children are impulsive to some extent. However, a child with hyperactive reflexes will be more impulsive than most. What is more, a hyperactive child will not be able to tame his or her impulsive behavior as he or she gets older. Signs of impulsive behavior that could be related to a hyperactive disorder such as ADD or ADHD include:

  • Impatience.
  • Inability to wait until someone is done talking to respond.
  • Difficulty waiting in line and/or waiting for a turn.
  • Inability to interact properly in social settings.
  • Making rude or inappropriate remarks without provocation.
  • Accident prone behavior.
  • Proclivity to engage in dangerous activities.

How to Work with an ADD/ADHD Child

As you can see, it is not easy to define hyperactive disorders. In fact, the symptoms vary from child to child. Some children only have a mild problem with ADD or ADHD while others may have more serious complications,

ADD and ADHD are not curable conditions. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Children with ADD or ADHD have special gifts and talents that can be brought to the fore with proper training and help. Following are some ways in which teachers and parents can work with a hyperactive child:

Behavioral Interventions

Psychologists have found that behavioral interventions can help a child with ADD or ADHD to perform better at school. What is more, such interventions can help children behave properly at home and even in social settings.

Interventions can involve giving immediate feedback when a child gives a right or wrong answer at school. One teacher who used this method found that a hyperactive child who did not even try to do his tests was able to not only complete his exams but get a reasonably high score to boot.

Another way to help a hyperactive child behave better is to offer immediate rewards for good behavior. This may be as simple as giving a child a star on a chart every time he or she exhibits desired behavior such as sitting still for five minutes, completing a homework assignment or chore, organizing his or her things, etc. However, it is important to note that the reward cannot be delayed; as was noted above, hyperactive children are impatient and forgetful by nature so putting off a promised reward can make the reward of no effect.

Therapeutic recreational programs can also be a great help to children with a hyperactive disorder. These programs cater to the needs of hyperactive children and not only offer traditional activities such as arts and crafts projects and sports but also behavioral interventions to cater to the needs of ADD and ADHD kids. Children in such a setting will receive social skills training and contingency management strategies that can enable them to work well with other people as they get older.

Dietary Interventions

Dietary interventions are controversial in nature, as many doctors note that changing a child’s diet will neither prevent ADD or ADHD, nor cure a child from them. Even so, researchers have noted that children who have a hyperactivity disorder do better when parents minimize or eliminate unhealthy, sugary foods from the children’s diet.

Some parents have noted that their hyperactive children behave better when certain foods are eliminated from their diet. Such parents will often remove a single food from a child’s menu and then monitor his or her behavior to see if there is an improvement. If the child seems to behave better than before, the food in question is permanently taken off the menu. However, this method should be used with care and parents should ensure that children get enough nutritious food to eat on a daily basis.

Medications

There are over a dozen different types of medications that are given to help reduce ADD and ADHD symptoms. Some of these medications are only suitable for adults. Others can be given to a child after he or she reaches a certain age. Both stimulant and non-stimulant drugs are often prescribed.

The exact type and amount of medication prescribed varies from patient to patient. In many instances, it will take time and even some experimentation for a doctor to determine the right drug and dosage.

It is important to note that while medications are effective in reducing ADD/ADHD symptoms, these medicines can also have unwanted symptoms, some of which can be quite serious. These include:

  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting or dizziness
  • Hallucinations
  • Suspicion or paranoia

Parents should also note that there are safety concerns related to the extended use of ADD and ADHD medications. Researchers have noted that these drugs may have a negative effect on a developing brain and even trigger or exacerbate mental health problems such as paranoia, anxiety and depression. Parents who opt to give their children medication for hyperactivity should monitor their children very carefully and report potential negative side effects to their family doctor immediately.

Hyperactivity in children is a common problem. It is multi-faceted and affects different people in different ways. Even so, there are several ways in which parents and teachers can help a hyperactive child come to grips with his or her problem and go on to lead a happy, productive life.

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