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Posts Tagged ‘hyper kids’

How to handle an energetic toddler

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by:

Do you have a child who wakes up saying “no” and goes to bed saying “no” and says  “no” all day in between? I affectionately call these little ones “gladiators.” Gladiator kids are feisty and full of energy. They tend to be smart, inquisitive–and strong willed.

Gladiator kids can fill up a room with their personalities, but often have trouble settling and knowing when enough is enough. They’re amazing kids, but have to learn to control all the big feelings they have inside. Here’s how to avoid doing battle with your little gladiator.

Stay Neutral: getting angry and upset only fuels the fire, adding to the emotional mix (you won’t be able to do this all the time, but try–it really helps!)

Frontload: in each new situation, help your child understand what you expect and how you can help him make the right choices. Let him know what the consequences (natural) if possible will be ahead if time for negative behaviour.

Adrenaline Play: these kids have energy and running around outside is not enough. They will often tantrum or bug to release energy. Try wrestling and chasing games, or games like hide and seek to get their energy out in a positive way.

Name the Behaviour: give their behaviour a name, like the silly bug or the “no” monster. It can really help so that you can work on the behaviour together.

Be Consistent: Be loving, but firm and consistent. Don’t threaten with consequences you know you won’t follow through on. It is better to pick smaller consequences and stick to them then bigger ones that you take back or forget about.

Praise Them: catch them being good–it’s so important to let your child know you see the positive behaviours too. Children listen to the things we say to them and form a sense of themselves based on what we feed back to them.

Connect Through Play: different from adrenaline play, this should be a wonderful cuddle time where you really make them feel delicious and loved.

Use Empathy: I describe how to use it effectively with the CALM technique in my book. It really works to defuse tantrums, helps them understand their own feelings and increases compliance.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and founder of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at info@connectedparenting.com or visit www.connectedparenting.com.

Relieving your child’s excess energy

Monday, April 19th, 2010 by:

If your little one often has major meltdowns, is constantly bugging his brothers or sisters, or just seems to have a lot of excess energy, there’s a trick called “adrenaline play” that can really help.

But first, it helps to understand where the behavior is coming from:

• Kids often hold tension and worries that they don’t know what to do with. They haven’t yet learned how to calm themselves or regulate their emotions, so this tension comes out in the form of fits, meltdowns or relentless bugging.

• These behaviors are common late in the day when kids are tired, overwhelmed or hungry.

• Other kids just seem to have an internal battery that’s always charged and if that energy isn’t used up, it can spill over into everyday behavior. It’s like an emotional thunderstorm that has built up–and they attempt to regulate this build up by getting other people upset. Setting Mom up for a big argument or sending their sister running out of the room screaming often does the trick. They get a blast of adrenaline because of the excitement, which provides a release so they feel better afterward.

One way to deal with this is something called adrenaline play—one of my favorite techniques. It is especially helpful for highly active children and children with ADHD.

When you see signs that a tantrum, meltdown or severe episode of silliness or bugging is building, you can use adrenaline play as a way to help your child release excess energy in a more positive way. It’s a great way to connect and, in many cases, ward off a tantrum. Try wrestling, chasing, playing hide and seek, or having a sock-throwing war. Go outside and have a race. Or, if you want to participate directly, have your child set up an obstacle course in a safe place and time him running the course.

Whatever activity you choose must have an element of excitement and a tiny bit of fear, which is why chasing or hide and seek is great. Just sending them outside to run around won’t do the trick. The activity must have a thrill that will give the child’s brain what it needs and help him to self-regulate. Tantrums won’t disappear altogether, but you may find that they occur less frequently because you have provided a release–and a positive one at that.

At this point, if you have a high-energy kid you are probably thinking, “that sounds great, but as soon as we start my child will get out of control and won’t know how to stop.” To avoid this, frontload the rules and tell your child that if he’s hurting anyone, won’t listen, or won’t stop when the game is over, there will be a consequence. A natural consequence—such as not playing again until later or the next day, or having to sit in the “penalty box” and getting ejected from the game after three penalties—is best. He may test you a couple of times, but that should work.

If you have a high-energy kid, I recommend adrenaline play at least once a day, maybe twice, but definitely not too close to bed time. Remember to stay neutral if the child blows it, and follow through with the penalties.

Jennifer Kolari is a child and parent therapist, and found of Connected Parenting. For more information you can contact jennifer at info@connectedparenting.com or visit www.connectedparenting.com.