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You are here : home > Manners and Discipline > The Hyperactive Child > The Overactive Child

The Overactive Child

Do you catch your child doing some mischief or the other all the time? Is your child overactive? Read on to find tips for dealing with an overactive child. 


Can a child be too active?

Shivani Goel describes her six-year-old son Arun as a 'human dynamo.' "He just won't sit still for a minute. He's constantly up to some mischief. I find it difficult to take him to restaurants or even other people's houses because he misbehaves. Other children from his class rarely invite him over to their houses. I'm tired and I just don't know what to do."

You can't expect children to be quiet and well behaved at all times. In fact, parents of shy, quiet children often complain that their children are too boring and wished that they would show a bit of life. In general, people expect children to be the life of the house - a little mischievous, quite noisy, full of questions and ideas. But some children cross the line and are wild, destructive and disruptive. They're just not cute any more and people find them a little hard to take. 
 

Are overactive children 'bad'?

Overactive children just don't fade into the background. They are loud, demanding and difficult to control. They soon discover that when they misbehave, they get noticed and are given attention even if it is of the negative kind. Their bad behaviour enables them to get their own way very often and this only reinforces their tantrums and indiscipline. As a result, hyperactive children often get labeled as 'bad' children and this affects the way they are treated by family, peers and teachers. This is unfortunate because if their excess energy were nurtured and channelized in the right direction, it could be an asset. 

Obnoxious behaviour could be a cry for help. So even if your child makes you tear your hair out in frustration, don't give up on him. You have to work with him to teach him to develop self-control, be considerate to others and to direct his energies towards constructive action.
 

What to do?

  • Take time out from your routine to give your child the attention he craves and to either tell him that you love him or show him by giving him a hug.
  • Get into the habit of making a plan for the day for your child and explaining it to him so that he knows what he's expected to do and when.
  • It is a given that your child is overactive so try to work within this framework. If he misbehaves, first give him a warning. If he pays no heed to you, firmly tell him to do something more constructive. For instance, if he's fiddling with the stereo system in somebody's house, remind him that it's not a play thing and that he should go and play outside with the other children.
  • If you are taking your child for an outing, remind him about the rules of good behaviour and promise him a treat if he behaves. Assign him some tasks like picking out a book in the library or choosing the flavour of ice cream that he would like. If he misbehaves, warn him that he might forfeit his treat and if he continues to behave badly, take him home.
  • Overactive children usually have really short attention spans. Offer your child the opportunity to switch to something else before he becomes bored and decides it's time to liven things up.

  • Show your child that you have a positive attitude towards him and praise him whenever he's well behaved. Don't let people label him as a brat or a terror.
  • Get your family and friends to help you in your disciplining programme. Speak to his teachers at school to be more patient and positive towards your child.
  • Be prepared to keep your child occupied when you take him out. Carry his favourite toys, colouring books and crayons, etc. and rotate these items from time to time.
  • Try to ensure that your child is not overstimulated and maintain as calm a home environment as possible.
  • If you can see that your child is becoming restless, give him an errand to run or find something for him to do.
  • Find outlets for his excess energy like tennis coaching or swimming lessons.
  • Try to spend as much time as possible with your child even if you have to forgo some social and extra-curricular activities.
  • Ask your child about his day and discuss any problems that he may have had.

Follow the above tips to the ‘T’ and do not lose patience. Your determination to teach your child self-control, you love and care will definitely help you to bring about a change in your child.  Remember that parenting is not easy and you are not alone. 

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Recent comments (43 comments)
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Comment: 
Name: Manish
Country: India

Respected, My son is 14, study in CBSE English class 8. He studied in the same school since last 8 years. He can sing very good. But since last 2 hours there are complain comes from his school regarding he is hyper. He cant ready to bear little wrong happend with him by other student. He cant listen any abusive words and so he react on that point. Rather to talk to teacher he direct took the actions and he come under the boundry of fault. what i do ?
 
Name: shaney
Country: India

my son has just completed his 3 years of age.....he is hyperactive...and at times makes me feel miserable...i wonder if this restlessness of his will always be there or with his growing age it's going to decrease? wish somebody wud advise me onthis topic.
 
Name: Miss Smith
Country: USA

redirecting is great but consistency with discipline works very well people tend to give in to easy to hyper children to quiet them.
 
Name: Christina
Country: USA

hello! i found the article very well written and containing some great advice. the advice however may work well with parents in an ideal situation. i am a single mother who lives a great distance away from any family. i do not have a real support network in this area. my daughter is 3 and a red head! she is wonderful and earns every strand of her red hair! i have to be able to get some work done in order to keep a roof over our heads. i have been out of the office for one week due to a case of head lice on my daughter. we have done everything that you suggest, nothing has helped. i have been unable to make the money i could have made from my home office. i am not even able to make a business phone call. i so much want to nuture my daughter's spirit, yet we also have to survive it. ;) any suggestions are welcome! sending all the love, light, and joy this life has to offer! christina
 
Name: Vee
Country: USA

my son turned 4 in january and is so active no-one wants him around, can someone give me some ideas of how to cope
 
Name: shaney
Country: India

my son has just completed his 3 years of age.....he is hyperactive...and at times makes me feel miserable...i wonder if this restlessness of his will always be there or with his growing age it's going to decrease? wish somebody wud advise me onthis topic.
 
Name: Lora
Country: USA

read this story and i have three over active children also. my middle child, who is four, is the most disruptive. my husband and i live far away from family so i understand christina's dilema about being a 24 hour/7 day a week mom with no vacation. perhaps, in our modern era the children as so hyper because our society is so demanding, competitive, and fast paced. every one i talk too seems to have the problem of extremely active children who have all the energy to be destructive but are un motivated to do chores or help others. even in school when i was growing up we took shop and home economics to learn how to help our parents. at eight years old i baby sat my sister. my mother taught me how to be responsible. at 9 i would ride my bike to all of my friends houses all around the neighborhood in the suburbs of new york city. up to the 1970's children could have more freedom and independence. now as a parent you feel until the age of 18 a child must be attached to your apron strings. you feel guilty just filling your gas at the station if on a cold day you must leave them in a locked car, despite the fact you can see them from the speedway register. we punish the freedom of children and parents because police do not want to lock up criminals who harm children. its easier to call a parent irresponsible and blame them for our violent society. even at school the children are given too much sugar which in my generation people ate less sweets and more comfort food. when i was a child i was always with my friends outside running around. the kids today are entertained by computer games and since they get little activity they are either hyper at the wrong times or obease and lazy. perhaps restlessness and hyper activity will continue to be a problem until society as a whole calms down and is less aggressive.
 
Name: Sophie
Country: England

hi im doing a kind of project for a course im on could any one help me can a child be over stimualted ?
 
Name: Anne
Country: Canada

hi, i have two children, a 4 year old boy and a 2 year old girl. they are very well behaved when they are not together, but put them in the same room and all heck breaks loose. all they do is run, scream and fight, nonstop until they are separated. does anyone have any suggestions as to what i should do with them. we live in a duplex so i have to consider the other people who live here and i can't just let them run wild, but their brother and sister, i can't separate them all the time. i just need to know what to do to make them play nicely once in a while, i feel like i've tried everything and i"m at the end of my rope. help!!
 
Name: Karen
Country: USA

this article and comments of other moms have helped me feel a lot better. i sometimes feel that i am the only person with a difficult child to deal with. sometimes my 4 year old son has streaks of sweet days, where i think he has finally outgrown his distructive and sometimes mean behavior, and then it pops up again. i love my son so much, it hurts me that he might not fit in with others. let's keep up being consistent with limitations, keep them feeling loved even when unloveable and maybe they will break through this out of control stage.
 
Name: Misty
Country: USA

my daughter will be five in october and she can't sit still for a minute.no matter what i do with her or tell her she just dosent listen.no matter where we go she acts up except for the doctors office.i talk to her doctor about it but since she never acts up while we are there i am told nothing is wrong with her and if there its because of bad parenting.if anyone has any ideas on how i can get her to listen and be good for atleast five minutes in a day please let me know.
 
Name: debl
Country: Other

4 year old help
 
Name: Annette
Country: England

my son has just had his 6th birthday and is in year 2 at school so he is one of the youngest in his class. he has always found it difficult to sit still unless he is doing something that he really enjoys and going to school is not one of them! his school have been fantastic and really supportive which is essential for parent and child. before i read this article i hadn't heard of overactivity but reading the article made me realise that this could well be the problem. so i am going to try the methods mentioned with the school and at home and see how it goes. i will keep you posted!
 
Name: lee
Country: Malaysia

i have a 4 year old son & he is a hypeactive children. i already try a lot way to help him but sometimes i do not what actually he want it. if you all have any idea of overactive article, please share with me.
 
Name: Dipti Adatia
Country: India

thank alot i got idea to handle my son who is very active.i was confused from last 4-5 months so i got it i will like to be in touch with u.
 
Name: tracey
Country: usa

my daughter is 3 years old and very very overactive. she has been out of control since she was one year old. i thought it would get better as time went on but it is getting worse. nobody ever keeps her because of her being hard to handle, and i never get a break it is wearing me down. we cant go out to eat or anything with her. she can get to anything theres nothing she cant climb or nothing she cant mess up even if u put it on top of the house. she even laughs when you get hurt or if u spank her it does not even phase her no matter how hard u spank her please can u help. thanks, tracey
 
Name: kids
Country: united kingdom

kids can be very over active they chucked them selves down on the floor when they cat get there own way, they cry a lot, clingy, u always have to watch them 24 7
 
Name: sheela
Country: india

my son is 21/2 yrs old . he is over active most of the time& we are worried that he will hurt himself.always some one has to be at the back of him,it is so difficult to take care of him. we are feeling misserable .please help.
 
Name: Maddie
Country: USA

my daughter maddie was just dianoised with autism on top of that she is extremely active she is very aggressive at her daycare we are having her evakuated at children's hospital for her behaviors nothing we do works for her and she continues to repeat the same behaviors day after day we talk to her and she promises she will be good. we are at our wits ends with her
 
Name: Sabrina Jacobs
Country: Other

my son 4 years old he's been overactive sense he was a year old an i dont know what to do i'm like most of you nobody dont want to keep my son even family members. he's always into something, he scream all the time, he kicks, he's really violent at time with is sister there always fighting. hes had problem with his ears sense he was born and he dont hardly talk. ive mention to the docter that hes very overactive an i cant keep up with him i even came a hair of loosing him in the wood it only took him a minute to get away from me i'm really afraid that hes going to really hurt or lost on me one of these days and the only thing the docter tells me is it could be two thing . hes acting out were he has trouble hearing and he cant express is self, or its pop an candy causing is overactivenes. i dont think some of these doctors no what there doing. i have found only one thing that will keep him still for at least 2-3hrs at a time an thats cartoons. but all kids might not keep them still but you can try or find a interest that they like an it might just work.
 
Name: Chitra
Country: india

my child is 2 and half year old is very hyperactive, it is very difficult to do anything when he is around. he is constant source of energy the only thing which can keep him at one place is cartoons which i think that make a bad impression on children and detain their social life. i always need one person running behind him. he is otherwise very brainy, i always keep some time in my schedule to play with him and to take him out in park ,the problem which i have is that at this age only he just dont want me to stand by him. like when he is on the swings and i stand by the side to hold him so that he may not hurt himself he says to me to get a side i don't no what to do
 
Name: Mrs Farmer
Country: south Africa

hi. i have two children aged 10 and 7. my youngest, stefan are over-active and we have trouble where ever we go. it seems to me that i use his name more often than breathing!usually i can get him to quiet down only when he can watch cartoons. i have noticed that alot of you say the same thing.he is in school and recently the teachers phones me often to complain about his behaviour in class. he makes friends very easily, but loose them quikly too. i feel bad for him, because even with people around him he is alone.no-one understand him, not even me. he can be sweet and caring one minute and agressive and rebellious the next. our whole family are suffering becuase we dont know how to deal with this.i made him a appointment to see a pediatrician for evaluation and hopefully there will be light at the end of the tunnel. thank you for the advice and i will try it out and see what happens! yolandi
 
Name: Jules
Country: United Kingdom

my son is 5 years old. he has been very active since birth. he never sleeps and can be very disruptive, especially at school. however he is always happy, regardless of how naughty he is being - he always laughs & smiles, but just has no idea how to sit still or be quiet. our gp says his difficulty is that he has a very high iq and that we need to wait for his maturity level to catch up. we have already tried all the things the article suggests, and i am quite sure he is safe and happy in his own little world. sometimes it would just be nice to get a good nights sleep. we love him dearly and wouldn't be without him, even though we know we will be waiting a long time to catch up on our sleep!!!
 
Name: lidia
Country: usa

"the police don't want to lock up criminals who harm children?!!?"(lora usa) that has got to be one of the most ignoany comments i have ever heard! crime has gone up incredibly from the 1970s, and officers are out there trying to keep this place a little more safe for your children......you are obviously the type of parent that leaves her kids in the car and lets them roam the streets by them selves and then wonders why they are disfunctional or get into trouble....get real.
 
Name: Grandma
Country: U.S.A.

i've heard that a lack of magnesium in a childs diet can cause the child's nervous system to run amuck. plus the food we eat is loaded with sugars. try getting a blood test to see if your childs magnesium levels are low and get a good liquid, magnesium, suppliment. change their diets! that is why so many children are being diagnosed with add now. doctor aren't trained sufficiently in natural methods of healing, only drugs. i would much rather give a child an apple than a pill. use your doctor to find out what the blood tests results are but please don't give your children ritalin unless there is no alternative. do your homework. your child is worth it. change their diet and probably yours to. organic milk, fresh fruit, organically raised beef and chicken (no antibiotic injected beef or cage raised chickens), fresh vegetables instead of the overcooked cardboard we serve them now. don't feed them dried processed food from boxes or fast food loaded with grease. we are setting them up for cancer, obesity and so many other maladys that their bodies can't handle without the proper fuel, that is, good wholesome food to fight disease. children love a plate of cut up fruit. if you sit and eat with them and comment on how delicious it is but let them eat what they want off the plate (i called it the "snacking plate" and my boys loved it) you might be surprised at what they will eat. don't serve them individual plates because that makes them think they have to eat what you put on their plate. one large plater for them to pick and choose from works better. i got my husband involved and when they saw dad eating and making a big deal out of how great it was, they treated it like a treat and gobbled it up. you may want to try some wholegrain bread that is warmed with real butter on it. don't use margarine. their is no food in it. if you left a tub of margarine outside for a couple of days you would find that even the bugs don't want it. they know better. well, good luck...and do your research. our children are worth it.


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