“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance! ~ Franklin Jones
Hyper active kids are not necessarily notorious, impulsive, fussy, pampered, ill-mannered or badly raised children, as many are perceived to be (unfortunately the parents always have to take the blame!). Most of them are very intelligent children, full of energy and enthusiasm and sadly a victim of I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-my-energy syndrome. It’s very important to understand their psyche and not try to curb their energy. Instead, patiently look out for avenues where they can release their energy, channelize their intellect, and unleash their potential.
Your child may be an introvert, extrovert, normal, naughty, docile, active, hyperactive one. No matter how you may choose to categorize your child, it’s very important to keep them “constructively busy”. More often than not, hyperactive kids love activities that test their “physical abilities” and strength. Engage them in productive exercises that may involve physical labour as well. Here are a few examples:
1. Get a basketball hoop: Fix a basketball hoop in the house and encourage your child to go slam dunk! This not only introduces them to a sport but also improves their hand to eye co-ordination and muscle strength.
2. Paint the walls: Bring out the Picasso and MF Husain in your child! Stick old newspapers or blank paper sheets on the walls, hand them paint brushes and colours and let them go berserk with them. They could just splash colours on the papers or make a rainbow or anything else! Once done you can always replace them with fresh new papers. This not only lets them experience freedom but also helps them understand that they need not dirty the walls. Frame their oeuvre d’art proudly!
3. Plant trees: Tools and instruments are tempting playthings for kids. Hand them a mini plastic shovel and a rake and dig with them in your garden or even a pot. Once done digging, plant a seed. Make them water it every day and watch the plant grow with them.
4. Play I Spy games: Give them clues and make them guess. For example, “I spy something that crawls, is black with red spots? Can you guess” Yes, it’s a ladybug. You can make up clues about their toys, about animals, about things they see around them. These games encourage thinking and improve observation skills.
5. Read together: If your children are not the sort who would sit patiently and read by themselves, have a family reading time. Read stories out to your child and discuss it – the character, the plot, the central idea. Get their opinion on everything. They would be thrilled to know that their opinions matter. This also helps them to develop a gradual interest in reading books independently.
6. Make them write: Yes, make them scribble their thoughts. This is a good way to vent out anything that’s on their mind. If they cannot write too well, ask them to write down say five words that are currently on their mind. Talk about it; connect the dots. You could also give them clues and topics and ask them to write a few lines about it. This exercise improves concentration and attention span.
7. Make something out of something else: The other day we went to a restaurant and my two year old went bananas running around the table, till he saw a straw. He first made a circle by joining the two ends and put it around his neck like a necklace. He then went on to make a triangle, a square, a kite, and even scared us with a snake! We not only had a peaceful dinner but other guests at the restaurant enjoyed my son’s imagination. Give your children some waste material and challenge them to make something out of it. This allows thinking out-of-the-box and brings out their creative side.
8. Say a prayer: It would be nice to pray together every morning, before meals, and before going to bed. From the time my son was a few months old, we pray together. Now every time he gets worked up about something, I just ask him to calm down and he puts his hand on his chest and says, “Om” with a deep breath. A prayer is one of the best ways to calm hyperactive nerves – helps them think clearly and put things in perspective. I guess this is true for us too!
Sometimes hyperactive behavior is a result of lack of attention by loved ones. They do strange things to get your attention. Avoid making a big deal of their screaming and noisy activities. Once they realize that such things do not garner any attention, they will gradually stop. Encourage their achievements, help them to understand their mistakes or slip-ups (breaking a toy, falling and getting hurt) saying that it’s not unnatural for things to break or fall and for people to get hurt. Show them how to be more careful and take care of their own things.
They need time, patience, understanding, and loads of love.
Just like we did, when we were kids.
Artwork courtesy: Kruti Kothari. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Vaishali Shroff is a freelance writer and editor and runs a reading club for children in Pune. Her work has been published in over 10 titles of the Chicken Soup India Series and her children’s stories can be read at smories.