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.
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.
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.
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
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