High Energy Child

My son has always been extremely active. He doesn’t ever stop moving. Ever. I signed him up for soccer in the fall and he loved it – but it didn’t necessarily have the desired effect which was to tire him out! He could exercise all day – come home and still run laps. With that much energy, it’s not hard to get into trouble. Our house isn’t big and there’s not much room to run – so furniture just becomes part of the raceway. I’m constantly on him to settle down, not run on the furniture, etc. etc. but it doesn’t make a difference. I was afraid that with so much activity – no one would want to set up any playdates with him. We don’t do many of them – but I swear that when he does have one, it’s because he runs circles around everyone so much that THE OTHER kid is sure to get a good night sleep. Mine, on the other hand? He’ll be awake until about 9 or 10pm. Sometimes even later on the weekends. (Even though his actual bed time is much earlier) Going to bed is a punishment – or at least that’s the way he sees it. I used to think that maybe the hyperactivity was just a symptom of him being overtired. But there is literally no “making” him go to sleep. He sleeps when he’s ready to and not a moment before – regardless of what I do. You can’t make someone sleep.

Last night I was at the end of my rope, and patience. I know he doesn’t have ADHD or anything along those lines – he is capable of sitting still. I’ve seen him do it at school. When he’s finished with his work, the kids are supposed to go to a quiet corner and read a book – which he happily and proudly does. I don’t get complaints from the teacher about him acting out – so I think he’s doing ok (although I will be grilling her next parent teacher conference on exactly how well he really is doing on that to make sure). So I turned to the all-knowing Google. “Kid never sits still” “Excessively active child” “High energy child” – the last one came up with lots of good hits. “High Energy Child” is apparently the key phrase to describe him – and he’s not the only one. Here is what I got out of the links I read:

1) Limit TV and Video Games. Big time. These will overstimulate him. Other kids get over stimulated, but not nearly to the degree a high-energy child does. So our new plan: I have a chore chart – when all the things on the chore chart are done he can either have ONE (and only ONE) hour of TV OR video games – OR he can have a quarter. (He loves to buy junky toys from those bubble-gum vending machines)

2) Did you see the movie Gremlins? I didn’t actually – but I know there was something about not feeding the things after midnight. Similar rules apply – with similar results when you don’t comply – but in this case it’s the TV and video games again. That hour of media entertainment? Not to be done before bed!!!

3) Redirection. This is where that chore chart comes in. Once he starts complaining about not having the TV and video games – I remind him how he can earn it for an hour for the day. Try to give him “jobs”. Keep him assigned to a task. If he’s idle – trouble will follow.

4) Whatever you do. WHATEVER you do! Don’t lose your cool. Getting angry will make things worse. It will make him amplify his hyperactivity and make you even angrier. You’ll begin a viscous cycle. That’s not to say don’t tell him to get off the furniture or don’t punish him when he refuses to listen. But all punishment and directions must come completely without emotion.

I’m trying to see the world through his eyes and it is helping me to understand how to deal with him. Imagine you have boundless energy… and then imagine there is someone there who is always trying to bring you down – make you go to sleep? How can you sleep when you still have enough energy to jump tall buildings in a single bound.

The good news is that he’s a good kid. He’s sensitive to others. (Well to the extent a 6 year old is capable of) He doesn’t get into fights. He has a lot of friends at school. He’s bright, creative, smart, funny and can focus on school work when needed. He’s going to grow up and be an amazing human being some day. If we can direct that energy to something positive, I can’t even imagine the things he’ll be able to accomplish.

We’ll see how the plan above goes as time wears on. It’s always difficult to maintain these things in the long term. I’m hoping we do, and I’m hoping it works so we can all live a more happy life together. It has been really stressful to say the least.

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