9 Strategies for Parenting an Energetic Child

High Energy Child
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Energetic kids love to climb, bounce, tumble, jump, and wiggle. As long as they’re awake, they prefer to be in constant motion. Keeping up with a high energy child can be exhausting, but here are some strategies for successfully parenting a child with lots of energy:

1. Channel the Energy Effectively

If a high energy level is part of a child’s temperament, don't try to convince him to be less active.

Trying to force a high energy kid to color for hours and to spend an entire day playing with a puzzle isn't likely to be effective. Focus on channeling that energy into the most productive activities as possible. Provide opportunities for outdoor play,  as well as indoor exercise, every day.

2. Avoid Allowing Your Child to Get Overtired

Sometimes it’s tempting to a tire a child out so he’ll become exhausted. But exhaustion only seems to reduce a high energy child’s self-control, without reducing their hyperactivity. Make sure your child gets plenty of rest each night, because a lack of sleep can contribute to many behavior problems. A well-rested child will be better able to manage his impulsive better.

3. Stick to a Healthy Diet

While the myth that sugar causes hyperactivity has been debunked, there is evidence that an unhealthy diet can impact a child’s behavior. For example, energy drinks have been linked to increased behavior problems because of the additives and caffeine in them.

Pay attention to your child’s overall diet. Make sure he’s getting proper nutrition that can help him manage his behavior and be at his best.

4. Keep Your Expectations Appropriate

Expecting an energetic 4-year-old to sit still during an hour long photo shoot isn’t realistic. Similarly, a hyperactive 5-year-old isn't likely to struggle to manage his behavior while visiting someone in the hospital for an afternoon.

Develop realistic and age appropriate expectations for your child.

Although it’s important to give your child opportunities to practice sitting quietly, learning those skills takes time. Challenge your child, but don’t set him up for failure. Create opportunities for him to practice managing his behavior appropriately without demanding he try and do something he isn’t ready for.

5. Make the Rules Clear

Energetic kids don’t understand why running at the playground is encouraged but jumping inside the library is inappropriate. Make all the rules and expectations clear before you enter into new situations. Ask your child to repeat the rules back to you to ensure he understands what's expected of him.

6. Offer One Warning

When your child acts inappropriately, offer a single if…then warning. Say something like, “If you don’t stop climbing on Grandma’s couch, then you won’t be able to play your game in the car ride home.” put your hand on your child’s shoulder and make eye contact when you offer your warning to ensure that he's heard what you said.

7. Enforce Consequences When Necessary

If your child breaks the rules, or doesn’t heed your warning, follow through with an immediate consequence. Taking away privileges, such as electronics use, can be an effective discipline strategy.

Avoid taking away privileges that will prevent your child from getting any exercise – such as playing outside for the day. Otherwise, you may inadvertently make behavior problems worse.

8. Use a Reward System

Energetic kids often enjoy point systems or token economy systems. They enjoy immediate feedback for their behavior and the frequent positive reinforcement motivates them to keep up the good work. Your child is less to require as many negative consequences when you establish an effective reward system.

9. Make Accommodations as Needed

Sometimes, a few simple changes can go a long way to creating a more peaceful family life.

Choose your battles wisely and consider creating helpful accommodations when necessary. For example, if your child really struggles to sit still at the dinner table after a long day at school, consider letting him stand up while he eats as long as he stays at the table. Or, if he has trouble getting his homework done because he’s too fidgety, allow for frequent breaks to satisfy his need to move around.

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