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Harnessing a Child's Hyperactivity

by Ron Kurtus (revised 27 August 2015)

Some children—especially boys—seem to be hyperactive. In extreme cases where the child is also impulsive and unable to retain attention, it is known Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). There are also children who are not hyperactive, but still have problems retaining attention. They are classified as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Any of these conditions can be a problem if it is not managed properly. If you suspect your child has such a condition, you should check with your physician to see whether it is treatable by medication or some sort of therapy. In many cases, the drug Ritalin is prescribed. Unfortunately, it is also over-prescribed to children who may be simply active children.

Hyperactivity in less severe cases is energy that actually can be harnessed to the child's benefit. But it does take patience.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions. Health Disclaimer



Characteristics of a hyperactive child

There are people who seem to have a natural high level of energy and need to be constantly active. In children, this is often called hyperactivity. Some children--and even adults--also have difficulty paying attention and often act impulsively. They exhibit various characteristics that can be bothersome to teachers, other students and even themselves. They can be considered having ADD or ADHD.

Hyperactive

Hyperactive children often get restless sitting in a class in school and may fidget with their hands or feet or squirm in their seats. They may have difficulty engaging in activities quietly and even act as if they are driven by a motor. They also may talk excessively.

If this type of excess energy is a medical problem, it may be treatable. Otherwise, it needs to be managed and harnessed into something productive.

Short attention span

Children who have problems paying attention are easily distracted. In school, they may often look about the classroom instead of at the teacher or chalkboard. Such students may not read directions or follow instructions and then make silly mistakes. Some are forgetful and often lose things necessary for doing tasks. Others are very disorganized.

When in a conversation, such a child may not pay attention to what the other person is saying and seem rude or uncaring. It takes a lot of self-discipline for such a person to be able to maintain attention.

Impulsive

Some children are impulsive, blurting out answers before questions have been completed. Such children may even have difficulty waiting for their turn and often interrupt or intrude upon others. They also may dominate activities, interfere in what others are doing, or quit a game or activity before it’s done.

These children are also often disorganized and fail to plan ahead. They need to learn to control their impulsive nature and make it useful.

Consequences of uncontrolled behavior

Children who don’t learn to manage hyperactive and attention deficit behavior may suffer unpleasant consequences in school and later in life.

Silly mistakes can mean poor grades

Children who are hyperactive and don't pay attention in school may be prone to make silly mistakes in tests or homework. They may forget to do required assignments or even do the wrong one. Also, they may often lose their homework, books, or other necessary items.

Can irritate people

Inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsiveness can result in serious social problems. Some children can irritate teachers and fellow students by talking out of turn in class, answering someone else’s question, or simply being disruptive in class.

People don’t like always being interrupted. Such children may end up getting poor grades and not having many—or any—friends. Such behavioral excesses can make it difficult to make and keep friendships.

Don’t get good jobs

Later on in their lives, this uncontrolled behavior can result in them not getting the good jobs or pay that they should, according to their intellectual ability or skills. They may even lose their jobs due to poor job performance, attention and organizational problems, or relationship difficulties. Other times, they may simply quit out of boredom.

Can get depressed

Problems in this area can lead to loneliness, low self-esteem and depression.

But such children should not get discouraged, if they have some of these excessive behaviors. There are ways to harness their energy productively.

Managing hyperactivity and ADHD

Children who learn to manage or control their hyperactive behavior and to harness that energy and creativity can excel in school, their social life and their careers. Parents and teachers can help them in their effort to control their behavior.

Children have drive

These children have the energy and drive to accomplish many things at once, while other children are struggling to do one thing at a time. Hyperactive or impulsive children are often more curious, which causes them to be easily distracted. They can be more creative, because their mind is always searching for different possibilities and ideas.

Many leaders and entrepreneurs who start their own businesses were once considered hyperactive. Through great self-discipline they were able to control their excessive behaviors and transform them into the energy and creativity needed for greatness.

Ways to control and harness energy

Following are some ideas on how children can control their tendencies to get distracted, to make silly mistakes, or to be hyperactive or impulsive. They can turn that energy into creative and useful forces. The child must:

  1. First of all, become motivated to improve him- or herself
  2. Next, be aware of what he or she does that causes problems
  3. Then, use tricks to harness his or her energy
  4. Finally, acknowledge his or her own good behavior

Becoming motivated to improve

The child can identify his or her areas of strength. By focusing on these areas, he can develop the confidence and skills to tackle other, difficult situations. If he realizes the consequences of being impulsive or forgetful, then he can be motivated to use some tricks to manage his forgetfulness.

Being aware of what behavior causes problems

The child needs to be aware of behavior that he or she doesn't think is good, that causes problems, or that turns off other people. Are there things he seems to be always doing—like losing things or getting bored? Do other students seem not to like to talk to him? Is he always interrupting other people when they are talking? The child needs to realize these are areas of concern.

If the child is old enough, he can analyze what he does and perhaps even make a list of some of these traits that may be causing him trouble. Once he is aware of what he is doing, it is much easier for him to correct his problems and to improve the way he acts.

Ideas to harness that energy

There are a number of ideas that the child can use to try to harness his or her energy and to control any excessive behavior.

1. Break projects into small parts

Since the child is able to do several things at once, he can use that ability to his advantage. If he has a large project to do, he can break it into little pieces and do several of those smaller tasks at once—making sure he completes each of them. This way, he won't get bored or sidetracked from the larger project, and soon the little, completed pieces will add up to the whole project being completed.

If he can complete several things at once, he can be proud of the fact. Juggle activities effectively, but he shouldn't let things go undone.

2. Take notes in class, along with ideas

In class, you can take notes of the important facts that the teacher is explaining. This skill is very useful when you are in college. But since your mind is so active, assign an area on your note paper for other ideas, inventions, doodles or such. You may have to let your teacher what you are doing, so she doesn't think you are goofing around. Or at least be careful about it.

I remember when I was in the 7th grade, I took down notes what the teacher was saying, but I also wrote ideas and doodled in the columns of my notepaper. When my  teacher saw that I had drawings of Superman and fast cars on my notepaper, he showed my notes to the class to try to embarrass me. I just learned to be more careful with this teacher. I still got an A in the class.

3. Let others know

People like to help those who want to improve. If you have been having trouble because you are somewhat hyperactive, you can let your teachers, parents and friends know you are trying to manage and control being impulsive. This may be very hard to do, and it depends on how others will respond. At the very least, they should think more of you for trying to rectify any problems.

Although, some may want to give advice, which can be boring.

4. Answering questions in class or in discussions

Be careful not to dominate the discussion all the time. Cool it once in a while. Try to be considerate of others and let them give their opinions. It is tough to force yourself to listen to others and to pay attention, but it is a skill you should perfect. People don't like those who only talk and don't listen.

5. Taking tests

Thoroughly prepare for test. Try to be methodical. Learn to read faster, so you don't miss important information.

6. Doing homework

Do several things at once, preferably two different subjects. Watching TV and doing homework is not too effective, although some students  can talk on the phone or listen to the radio and still do their homework.

7. Give yourself a pat on the back

Pat yourself on the back when you complete a task or avoid a distraction When you catch yourself doing something negative, tell yourself the correct behavior, but don't put yourself down.

Summary

Examine yourself. If you have some of these characteristics, think about correcting them, so you won’t be making silly mistakes in school and turning off other people in the process. Harness your energy and creativity and become a champion in school and in life.


Children want to be normal


Resources and references

Ron Kurtus' Credentials

Websites

Treatment Options for ADHD in Children and Teens - (PDF)

Creating the Optimal Living Environment for a Child with ADHD

ADD/ADHD and School: Helping Children and Teens with ADHD Succeed at School

ADHD and Learning Disabilities: School Help

The Best Software and Gadgets for ADHD Students

Strategies to Empower, Not Control, Kids Labeled ADD/ADHD

ADHD Online Community for Parents 

Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Carol's Teaching Tips for ADHD

Mental Health Resources

Books

Litebooks.net - Picture books to help relax hyperactive children

Top-rated books on ADHD in Children

Top-rated books on Mental Health


Questions and comments

If you have questions, comments, or opinions on this subject, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.


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