How can I help my hyperactive child

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My child can be impulsive and highly active.  He is a hands on and very physical boy.  And when I ask him to “stop,” sometimes the behavior even escalates.  Is he disobeying?  How can I help him just calm down?!  Sound familiar?  Or should I be asking how can he use up his energy?  His body is craving to move!!  His reaction to his vestibular system is hypersensitive.  And he needs to constantly over-stimulate his proprioceptive system.  How can I positively help my child with his sensory output?

Over 20+ Tools to help my Hyperactive Child from Wildflower Ramblings

Impulsive, hyperactive boy

There are times during the day when John is, quite literally, bouncing off the walls.  Or the couch, or his sister.  He likes to swing his arms or a broom or a stick around.  There are times when he crashes into things {well, every day}, there is the occasional impulsive hitting, and not being able to sit still.  After turning four, he has become less inclined to purposely push or hit his sister, but he still will bump or crash into her during moments of hyperactivity.  I see that he is not trying to hurt his sister, or the furniture, or himself, but we live in a small home, so accidents definitely do happen.  I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

“Boys will be boys.”  But what if there is more going on here?

“He just needs a little discipline.”  Uh, no, he has energy that needs to be respected, and used in a positive way.

John has this energy that cannot be “stopped” just by my just asking.  He is not “disobeying” when I ask him to stop, his body simply cannot stop. It is in GO! mode.

These are my aims for helping my over-active child:

  • I want my child to be safe.
  • I want others around him to be safe too.
  • I want our property and home respected.
  • I want my son to thrive and feel comfortable in his own home.

How can I help my son during over-active periods in the day?

When I see that my son is about to begin crashing into furniture, begin running around, not sitting still at the table, I give him an alternative plan :

“How about we ____ instead?”

Always giving him an option, a re-direction.  Simply saying, “stop doing that!” will not make him stop.  And him not listening will just make me upset about my parenting skills {though the situation has nothing to do with my parenting}.  And a “STOP!” type of statement will make him feel even more frustrated and usually the behavior will escalate.  But since most of his rambunctious behavior is unsafe, and he may hurt himself, or his sister, I want to be able to help him choose better.

I have often demanded him to “stop right now” :

  • Put your feet on the ground.
  • Sit in your seat now.
  • Don’t swing your arms, you’ll hit your sister.
  • Stop running in the house.
  • Don’t slam onto the couch again.

Well aren’t most of my commands, “DON’T DON’T DON’T”.  I am not showing my son what he CAN do, what he is WELCOME to do in his own home.

Re-directing my child with another safe, active choice

So, just now, while writing this, my son took one of our Fort Magic rods and was hitting the floor {near his sister}.  I asked him, “let’s hit your mattress or this pillow instead of the floor?”  This gave him an IMMEDIATE option for what he could do alternatively to the activity his body had unconsciously chosen.  Then I can explain to him “the why” I asked him to switch what he was hitting.

“Thanks for listening, hitting your mattress or a pillow is much more appropriate because it won’t hurt yourself or others or the furniture!  Doesn’t that make a cool sound?”

Quietly and calming EXPLAINING the why can help John make a better choice next time, perhaps even on his own, when he is faced with needing to move his muscles.  I also pointed out a simple simple positive to why this new choice is just as cool, nothing is lost from now hitting the floor, i.e. it did make a neat percussion noise, so why not start hitting what mom suggested….

Questions to ask regarding my child’s hyperactivity:

What are his triggers?

Can he recognize when his needs are not met?  

What can he do on his own to help/correct himself?

What tools can we give him?


{This post contains affiliate links, please see my disclosure policy.} 

Ideas for helping a child with hyperactivity

First, give him another safe, active option.  Don’t just say “stop.”  Let him/her know what he/she can do instead!!

How can I help my child with his proprioceptive sensory difficulties {muscle movement and control}?

  • Get outside to play!
  • Rough-house and wrestle with daddy, but know his/her limits and have a plan!
  • Running around the house 10 times, or the tree, etc.
  • Tell your child to march with their knees high up
  • Encourage your child to growl!
  • Ask your child to do chores, or heavy work {link includes a free printable}
  • Family yoga {we do this at least twice a week and it really helps him jump start his day!}

Here are suggestions we are just starting to use for my son’s vestibular sensory system {balance and coordination}:

  • Balance beam {this one from Ikea looks wonderful, and I cannot wait to set one up in our basement!}
  • Swinging outside
  • Try a crab crawl, planks, push ups, jumping jacks!

You can also try the 60 ideas in The Ultimate Guide to Brain Breaks — an amazing book, available in PDF eBook or in real copy!!  We love this amazing resource for jumping-off-the-wall times.  See our full review


What are these sensory systems?

The body possesses eight sensory processing systems.  Every child’s sensitivity to these systems is different.  My child’s reactions look different from yours.  I am educating myself on my son’s processing dysfunctions with the vestibular and proprioceptive systems.  He also can occasionally have input sensitivities to some of the other systems {they include : tactile, auditory, visual, oral, olfactory, and interoception}.   Each system can be over- or under- responded to, that is, where children will seek out or avoid a sensory response.  Find out more about each of the body’s sensory processing systems over at Lemon Lime Adventures.

These are the two that my son has the greatest challenges with, and they are the ones I have discussed here :

The vestibular system is the body’s spatial awareness tool, conducted by the inner ear.  The vestibular system allows us to maintain our body’s orientation and balance and helps it remain in control when in movement.

The proprioceptive system allows the body to regulate muscles and joints to allow for movement and body position.  This system makes the body aware of motion, acceleration, motor control, and posture.


All Children have Sensory Needs

To support Sensory Processing Month for the month of October, I have teamed with Project Sensory and a fabulous group of bloggers to raise awareness about the sensory needs of children.  Project Sensory provides tools to help children satisfy their sensory processing needs and it educates parents, educators, and caregivers about why children act out in seemingly defiant or inappropriate ways.  Understanding the reasons behind a behavior can help us develop interventions and beneficial tools so the child can become content in their environment.

Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors is a blog hop, hosted by Lemon Lime Adventures, that discusses over 40 common kid behaviors, the sensory needs behind those actions, and what we as parents and caretakers can do to help our children!!  This is truly an amazing series, and I have already learned so much from reading others’ posts!

tools to help hyper active child

I hope this post helps you to understand how you can help a hyperactive child!!  There are so many resources out there, and no parent should ever feel alone!!  Please follow my Sensory Processing Pinterest Board for many more resources on how you can help your child :

Follow Amy – Wildflower Ramblings’s board Sensory Processing on Pinterest.

Pin it!!

Over 20+ Tools to help my Hyperactive Child from Wildflower Ramblings

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  1. I really enjoyed reading this Amy, lots of practical ideas and advice. My time in the classroom came with lots of ‘Don’ts and Stops!’ I wonder now how the kids would have reacted if I had redirected instead, a lot less stressful for all of us I’m sure!

    1. Thank you so much Alison!! Writing this post has really helped me solidify my thoughts on how I can truly help my son!!

  2. Your son and mine sound so similar, and the same age. I also have a 2 yo son who sometimes gets tangled in the over-active surges, but other times instigates them. I love some of the ideas like the crash mat and family yoga. I have been looking for more ways to challenge his balance and focus, which he craves, and am looking get him a Spooner Board. I appreciate the redirection ideas too. I can only imagine how stifled they feel when I tell them “stop” and “don’t.” Thank you for taking the time to put all of your thoughts on this subject in writing. I find it immensely helpful!

  3. Awesome post! Lots of great ideas! Caden is very often hyperactive too! This is why I try to get him outside multiple times throughout the day, and I know when he gets restless around the house it’s time to head outside! Running laps around the house outside really helps in the evenings.

  4. This is a load. Look for your letters behind your name somewhere else. Children for the most part are on a natural path of development that does not need to be changed. How they experience their senses and interact with the world is part of their innate personhood, how dare you psychoanalyze this as if childhood is a disorder?

    1. Don’t know if you read the post, Cassie, I am sharing ways to help and respect a child who always needs to move.


      I want my child to be safe.
      I want others around him to be safe too.
      I want our property and home respected.
      I want my son to thrive and feel comfortable in his own home.

  5. I have suspected for a long time that I have ADHD on top of autism and OCD, although no on in my family ever seemed to believe that. Most of my autistic friends have not struggled with academic learning the same way that I do. I have a hard time focusing even on things that I enjoy doing. Not all of it has anything to do with my obsessive intrusive thoughts or even my sensory issues. A lot of it is pure distraction, and knowing that I have things around me that I would rather do.

  6. We began to develop the activity of fine motor skills of the child. And these simple exercises are great for my son.

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