Tuesday 21 August 2012

We Get It: Hyper Toddlers

This post was written for the We Get It series. Each Tuesday, the We Get It series focuses on one challenging behaviour or trait in childhood from a parent's perspective.  You can find links to all the posts in the We Get It series at The Golden Gleam

(Goblin is 34 months)
My son is a bit of a hyper child. Not medically diagnosed hyper activity disorder type hyper, just full of energy, must be moving, touching, running, exploring, climbing, type of hyper. He learned to walk at 12 months and within a month he was attempting to run. Now he runs everywhere. And I don't mean occasionally he breaks into a run, its more like occasionally he breaks into a walk. I've said it before, he has two speeds - Hurtle and nap.

I quite like having a high octane child. I love his energy and enthusiasm and speed.  One of my lovely friends describes him as having "good energy". But while I'm proud of his cheery energetic nature it does create significant parental anxiety at times.
For instance going to friends houses can be a bit of a trauma. If their kids don't have the same mix of curiosity coupled with the need to constantly move, they may not have the same level of childproofing about the house: No baby gates (to stop Goblin exploring the upstairs rooms); No locks on the external doors (Goblin can turn a key and pull down a handle and disappear on an adventure if you aren't watching); and ornaments - I am constantly stunned by the number of my friends who are able to have toddlers/pre schoolers and breakable ornaments or glass doors and cabinets. Goblin wouldn't intentionally pick these up and damage them but within an hour he is quite likely to run face first into a glass door or accidentally smash an object while wielding a stick (Yes he will have found the only stick like object in the entire room).

Going out for a coffee isn't much better. I used to assume that every mum stepped into a cafe and did 'The Check' -
"Where are the doors, how easy are they to open, do they go straight out onto a busy road, is there a hidden backdoor that my child will find and exit through; Where is the kitchen, how accessible is the kitchen, can my toddler get to it by crawling under a counter where I can't follow; are there glasses and cutlery already on the tables, how stable are the tables, are they spaced out enough for me to run through at speed; what are the other customers like and how much will we annoy them." 
But over the years I have realised its not every mum that needs to do all these checks. Its us parents with the hyper kids.
Finally I don't really feel comfortable leaving him to be watched (even for a short time) by anyone who doesn't know him really well. Even friends who we regularly see don't necessarily realise the speed at which he can bolt. And how quickly he can get himself into precarious situations due to attempts at climbing, or investigating, or chase a duck!

If this sounds like your child, here are some ideas to help overcome the anxiety and embrace the energy.

1. Treat your child like a Dog!
I make sure that, like a dog, he gets at least one walk a day outside, rain or shine, preferably somewhere where he can run independently to burn off energy.

2. Take playdates outside, or to soft play areas
Some of my friends can handle Goblin's active and unpredictable nature, and others can't. Meeting in a neutral environments removes their need to stress about whether he's going to knock over a house plant, and my stress about how much their antique glass statue would cost to replace. It also means we can pick somewhere where Goblin can run freely.

3. Avoid situations that will make you feel judged because your very active child will be construed as "misbehaving"
We used to go to a music class, but Goblin would spend the entire time running around the outside of the room rather then sitting with the other kids and singing the songs. Rather than continuing to go and feel guilty on a weekly basis that my child wasn't conforming, we sought out activities that suited his nature like swimming and nature nursery.

4. Embrace the positive
  • He is never bored, as long as he has space to move he is always able to entertain himself; 
  • He can keep going for hours so we can go on really long outings and walks;
  • He still takes long naps because he wares himself out so easily; and 
  • He is pretty physically fearless. He will climb very big objects, jump from great heights and really enjoys rough housing and physical play. If he does fall and hurt himself he will normally pick himself up and carry on. On the rare occasion when its bad enough to bring tears they are usually short lived and brushed away after a kiss on the affected area - and he'll be off running again.
5. Consider Educational alternatives
Young children (especially boys) who can't sit still in class are often branded as trouble makers from an early age and this can cause problems throughout their school life. Many kids will grow out of their need to move and will fit in to the mainstream educational system. But I fear that Goblin may not be one of them, his high energy personality seems pretty ingrained. I don't want to change that, I want to find an environment that will work with that characteristic. So we are looking at other options to mainstream schooling. We have considered Steiner, Montessori and Homeschooling options, all of which may offer Goblin longer to develop the ability to maintain concentration and composure.

For insight and ideas on other challenging childhood behaviours don't for get to check out the We Get It series

I'm sharing this at
Tuesday Tots


  1. THis is such a useful post, that I really needed to read just now! :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas.

    1. So glad you found it useful. Having a very active child can make one feel like a bit of a failure when all around you seem to have passive and obedient kids, but at least our lives aren't boring right!

    2. Not sure boring is a great term to use. Everyone of our children are unique and worthwhile. Some are do'ers, others contemplate. But all nessasary for balance in society.

    3. I don't believe I called any child boring. I said my child does not get bored.

  2. Great article. I must admit that my son was not always the hyper one. (in fact I was concerned a bit about how reserved he use to be) HA! that has changed. In fact today we met friends at the park and my sons were the ones throwing wood chips at each other having a blast and running around like a crazy person. (just a little embarrassing) I love your "treat them like a dog" too funny and so true.

  3. Great tips, mama! #3 is really speaking to me at the moment. Bobo was also the child running laps around the storytime teacher, crawling under and jumping off everything! Since I also teach storytimes, and have seen this countless times, we stuck with it. He'll be turning 4 on Sunday, and will sit quietly for most of it now. He has the maturity to say when it's time to go, though.

  4. My kids are NOT hyper, and while it has its benefits, I've definitely noticed the positives you've mentioned in my friends' children who are hyper. There are ups and downs to every personality trait!

  5. I really enjoyed this post, thanks for sharing. I too have a very active boy, and have used many of these tips so that I can allow him to be who he is, and not try to contain him. We have even decided on homeschooling as an educational alternative that will work best for him, and for us as a family. I do believe if you were closer, our boys would get along splendidly.. and my house is very active-boy proof ;)

  6. Thank you for this! My two girls are very hyper. I was hoping my second would be a bit calmer, but she isn't much. Settings where we have to sit and listen are hard. My oldest (3) will do ok for a bit, but not long at all. We go on a walk every day, play in our backyard every morning, and she takes a dance class once a week. We try to do lots of running games and all that in the house as well just to get the energy out. I have no idea what will happen when she has to sit still for more than five minutes! She is getting better though and will hopefully be a good role model for her little sister (who wants to be just like her) at some point. Thanks for this! It's so nice to know I'm not alone.

  7. My toddler hasn't napped since she turned 1. People are always commenting on how active she is and "have you gotten her checked out yet?" I honestly don't know how she has this much energy without naps. I am told I should be thankful that she has always slept throughout the night.
    Thanks for reminding me that I'm not the only one who is exhausted from all the chasing!

  8. It is so nice to read this today...as it has been a mentally exhausting day. My son is also extremely hyper.

  9. Thanks for a great post! I have a 20 month old who is hyper, strong willed and doesnt like to sleep. He started walking at 8 months and started running probably at 9 months and never stops. Yes he climbs on everything he can, how exhausting making sure he doesn't get hurt! I am glad I am not the only one who doesnt let someone watch their kids unless they truely know how the kid is. You have to watch him at Every Moment!

  10. hi thanks for this post feel a bit relaxed reading it I have a very very mega hyper 2 year old who cannot sit still from a baby.. when im out she just wants to run run run and im worried at times if anything is mentally wrong with her she is mega strong willed and if she doesn't get her way its temper tantrums/distress im always on edge ..and wants her way always distraction helps at times doesn't sit in a trolly or pushchair and life is difficult exhausting for me shes vey intelligent etc.. im worn out she keeps waking nites for milk as well I hope one day she calms down I feel as if I don't have any control my eldest was nothing like this...


I have decided to turn off comments on the blog as I am being inundated with spam. I do this with sadness as I love genuine comments from readers. If you would like to leave a comment please email me at TamingtheGoblin@gmail.com or visit the TamingtheGoblin FaceBook page (you can access it through the FB icon in the top right corner of the blog homepage).
Thank you for taking the time to read the blog.

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...