Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

How To Help a High Energy Child

There’s no denying that some children are just born with more energy than others. These children often need help channeling their energy and learning ways to keep their bodies under control.

When helping a high energy child channel his energy, it’s important to remind him that he alone controls his body – his body doesn’t control him. If he’s too young to understand the concept of exercising self-control then it’s up to you, as the parent, to provide a controlled environment for the child versus letting the high energy of the child set the tone for the entire household. Providing structure can help calm your rambunctious child, whereas letting him run free can lead to overstimulation.

Your child will need to find ways to release this energy, though. Try to promote tranquility by having a quiet corner in the house where your child can sit and read or play calmly with a toy. Turn off the television or radio during certain hours of the day to minimize the chaos that can ensue from the sounds and images of the media. Sit with your child and soak in the quiet peacefulness together.

Playing soothing music during quiet activities is also a good way to quell any anxious energy. It often helps to sit alongside your child and help him read or do an easy craft project. Try building a house together using graham crackers or sugar cubes and cake frosting. Not only is this craft fun, but everything is edible and cleanup is easy. Because high energy children are often also very creative, this type of activity can help channel both their energy and creativity.

Walking and running around outdoors, playing on a jungle gym or riding a bicycle are all fun activities the whole family can join in on that also serve to burn off excess energy. If you have a park nearby, take a ride to the park and then get out and play for a bit.

It’s very important to provide structure for high energy children. They need routines and schedules in place before school begins. Proper nap times, quiet reading times, craft times, and even household chores are good for your child. As soon as your child begins to walk put him in charge of picking up his toys and putting them away or helping put his clean clothes in the dresser. He may need help and encouragement, but it’s the perfect opportunity to start learning responsibility. Having responsibility is a wonderful way to teach him self-discipline, a concept that will come in handy as you try to get him to understand that he is in control of his actions.

High energy children typically need to be evaluated early on, sometimes even before entering school. It’s becoming more common to immediately label children who can’t sit still as suffering from ADHD problems, even before they’re emotionally mature enough to sit still and learn. You can help combat this by providing structure at home and encouraging quiet crafts, reading and listening to others. Doing so will help prepare your child for a school setting. Having him evaluated will ensure that you are prepared to answer the teachers concerns and to know what, if any, special needs your child has.

While high energy children need ways to release their energy, it’s important to give them more ways to do this than just sending them outside to run around (though this is a good way to burn off excess energy!). They need to learn to exercise self-control and understand that they control their environment, their environment doesn’t control them.

Watching what your child eats is important, too. Try to avoid feeding him too many sweets and instead focus on giving him a diet that is diverse and rich in nutrition. Record what your child eats and note any changes in behavior when he consumes certain foods – sometimes food allergies can wreak havoc on a small child’s body and emotions.

Knowing your child inside and out is key to finding the answers that will help him. Observation and structure are two great ways to help. As a parent, you can help your child by channeling him in the right direction, teaching him techniques on how to keep his body under control, and giving him good choices for activities that will help him stay calm.

Having a high energy child does not have to be difficult if you start helping him focus his energy at a very young age. These children are often very bright and creative, and when their energy is properly channeled it can be a benefit to them for the rest of their lives.

This guest post was written by Ken Myers, a father of three who is passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

Image courtesy of photostock /

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