By Jeannine Virtue
Parents of hyperactive children know the "Would you please just settle down?!" phrase well, and likely use it on a regular basis.
There are a number of tips to help parents settle their hyperactive child down. These quick tips and relaxation techniques take the same amount of time as yelling and scolding but produce incredibly different results in hyperactive children.
Quick Calming Tips:
Try quick tips to calm a hyperactive child down during temper outbursts or unusually rowdy days. These calming tips are not novel to adults by any stretch. How many times have you heard "Take a deep breath and count to 10" or "Calgon, take me away." What works for big people works for little people as well._ Deep breathing is one of the simplest ways to calm the body. Teach your children to take deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) when they begin to feel frustrated and out of control. Parents, you do this too!
_ Draw a warm salt bath or bubble bath to wash away the hyperactive child's stresses of the day.
_ Take your hyperactive child for a walk or send them around the block on their own if they are old enough. Not only does walking burn off excess energy, the repetitive thump, thump, thump of feet hitting pavement brings the mind back into focus.
_ Give your hyperactive child a mini-massage. Touch is very important to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children. Massaging their temples, giving a shoulder rub or lightly running your fingers through their hair can calm children quickly.
_ Put together a "Boredom Box" that provides creative outlets for your hyperactive child. Fill this box or plastic storage bin with paint sets, coloring books, crossword puzzles, modeling clay, jewelry making kits and other artistic areas of interest. Hyperactive children bore easily and their fast spinning minds need extra stimulation. In the absence of nothing better to do, hyperactive children will lean on their own devises and you don't want them doing that. Better that they draw than set the cat on fire...
The quick-fix calming techniques work to sooth the hyperactive child after they already became too stressed or active. There are also techniques that parents can teach their hyperactive children to help them get the "stuff" out before it builds up and explodes.
Create a calming home environment:
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder children have difficulty remaining calm in a hectic environment. Clearing the clutter and taking a "less is more" approach to decorating can reduce the sensory overload on Attention Deficit and hyperactive children.
The Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder child's bedroom especially should be free of clutter. Use plastic bins to organize and store all those precious little plastic treasures (that we adults commonly refer to as "junk") and small toys. Open the curtains to provide natural lighting. Keep posters and wall hangings to a minimum. Paint the child's bedroom in calming muted colors instead of bright primary colors.
If you play music in the house, opt for soft "elevator music" or classical music instead of rock. Try to avoid loud clatters and noises when your Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder child is at home.
Follow a Routine:
All children thrive in homes that provide routines, consistency and structure. Attention Deficit and hyperactive children especially need structure and schedules to feel secure in their surroundings. For these children, a more "military" approach to routines works better. Waking up, eating meals, doing homework, and bed times should all occur at about the same time every day, with few surprises to upset the Attention Deficit or hyperactive child.
A Place to Relax:
If at all possible, find a space in the house to designate as a relaxation space. It does not have to be a large space but it does need to be away from high activity areas. This little corner (or even a portion of a walk-in closet) can have a beanbag chair and a few books, coloring books or other quiet time activities.
Encourage your child to go to this space when they become angry or out of control, but never make this a place of punishment. This special spot in the house is a positive place where they can go to settle down, sort things out or just hang out when they need to be alone.
For the child who is old enough to write, journaling is an excellent way to untangle frazzled minds and get things off their chest. This technique allows hyperactive children to spill their internal stresses outside themselves and onto paper.
Develop a daily habit of having your child write a page or two, depending on their age, about anything that comes to mind. They can write "I hate school, the dog just drooled, the baby's crying is driving me crazy..." - whatever comes to mind. Eventually, they will get to the guts of what is going on inside them. Then rumple or tear the paper up and throw it away.
These private internal thoughts are not for you or anyone else to read, ever. Please respect their privacy and let them know they can write anything down without fear of reprimand.
Last, but certainly not least, diet:
Some parents find that reducing or eliminating sugar from the diet goes a long way in calming the hyperactive child. If your child is a finicky eater, you will need to supplement the diet to make sure your Attention Deficit or hyperactive child has the fuels needed for his body to function well.
Starting the day out with a healthy breakfast balanced with proteins, fats and carbs is important. An egg sandwich, peanut butter toast and fresh fruit, protein shakes and fresh fruit smoothies are great ways to start the day for Attention Deficit and hyperactive children.
Sugar cereals are quick and convenient but should not be used as a breakfast mainstay. Fruit juices are high in calories and sugar and not recommended for children, especially those with Attention Deficit or hyperactivity. Instead of juice or sodas, get in the habit of offering plain old H2O. With plenty of bottled waters that offer fruit flavors and vitamin enhancements, getting your children hydrated is easier now than ever before.
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