Your child can’t sit still for more than 30 seconds. They’re constantly running, jumping, sliding and generally careening from surface to surface. Their energy is limitless…but yours isn’t. Sometimes, you just need a break! After spending day after day chasing them around with no end to their energy in sight, you might start to wonder if they’ll ever calm down.
Some kids are naturally more energetic than others or have difficulties letting their energy out in constructive ways. This can cause disruptions at home, in school and in social situations and can totally wear you out. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be a constant reality. There are many easy ways to help your child calm down naturally while still having fun!
Many child psychology professionals note that there are a wide range of options when it comes to calming hyperactive children—as parents, we just need to learn how to identify and address a few underlying causes.
How to manage your child’s boundless, erratic energy
There are many different stimulants in a child’s life that may be contributing to their energy problems—a lack of creative outlets, poor diet, problems communicating and more. Looking at these contributing factors is the key to helping kids find balance.
If you’re dealing with a child who’s putting you through the ringer each and every day, whose energy just doesn’t seem to ever bottom out, here are five tips to help manage it:
- Find a creative outlet: Does your child have an affinity for singing or dancing? Arts and crafts? Sports or karate? Pay attention to these things and lean into them! Creativity is a productive form of expression and, many times, a great way to channel excess energy. Your child is more likely to stay engaged in something they’re passionate about, or at the very least, something that holds their interests.
- Watch their diet: It’s so easy for kids to load up on sugar and processed foods. Cereals, snacks, fast food and more are all in high demand by kids, and parents everywhere know the effects of the sugar highs (and the dreaded sugar crashes) that can affect their children. Additionally, excess salt, sugar and fat in a diet can impact gut health, which also impacts brain health! Getting your child on a healthier diet with whole foods that are prepared fresh can go a long way in stabilizing their hyperactivity.
- Create routines and structure: Routine is the basic building block for habit formation. Creating routines can help kids develop good habits that prevent them from being so overstimulated. For example, maintaining the same after-school regimen—homework, TV time, dinner, bath, family time, bedtime—will help their bodies naturally adjust, limiting erratic energy spurts. Just make sure you’re not too rigid! Kids need the freedom to be kids, too.
- Limit screen time: Screens are a modern-day epidemic for many reasons. For kids, they’re a particular menace. Overstimulation from excess screen time can cause the pent-up energy they’re not spending on physical activity to be expressed in sporadic, anxious ways. Screens also overstimulate the body’s developing nervous system, distorting real life. For example, hours and hours of quick-paced YouTube videos with sound effects, cut-scenes and CGI can make real life seem boring by comparison. Kids might overcompensate through energetic outbursts.
- Teach relaxation: Teaching kids guided meditation, visualization, mindfulness and rhythmic breathing at a young age can profoundly impact their ability to refocus and re-center themselves. Start by teaching simple visualization techniques or standard breathing exercises, then move into more intense exercises as they master the basics. It might take a simple two-minute “stop and breathe” exercise to help your child come down from an energetic outburst. These exercises are also great for parents feeling overstretched by their rambunctious child! Try practicing them together.
These five tips are a great place to start if your child’s energy is starting to encroach on your patience and their ability to function in school or at home. A combination of the methods can provide a well-rounded approach and teach your child good coping skills for the future.