Handling the Non-stop Child

Submitted by PeterAKenny on July 17, 2018

“Constantly in motion. That’s our first-grader, Jonny.  If I can get him to stop for a minute, he stays poised on the edge of his seat, ready to run off as soon as I say okay….His mind is just as undisciplined, jumping from one thought to another. Homework time is a nightmare. His doctor prescribed medication to calm him without much success. Any ideas?”

Yes. Consider turning a negative into a positive.  Think of energy as a gift. Stop telling him to sit still.  He can’t.  Instead, go with what seems to propel him.

Encourage high-energy activities like fast walking, bike riding, soccer, dancing, and tumbling. Run and exercise with him. Copy exercise routines off the internet.  Make a game of running and push-ups.  Offer small token prizes like pennies, points, or M&Ms or for his physical achievements.

Involve him with physical household chores. Possibilities include walking the dog, helping a parent clean house or with a large repair job, sorting recyclables before taking out the trash, and similar tasks.

Focus on short time-limited segments in doing his homework.  Reward him for each small unit completed. Let him stand and talk and walk around while completing work for school if he wants to.  I had a physician friend who ran marathons who was known for his advice: “Never trust an idea you get while sitting down.”  Motion makes our brains function better.

WebMD recommends that children with restless energy get at least 60 minutes of moderate to intense exercise every day.  Not only is physical activity helpful in burning off steam, but it releases the same neurotransmitters that are contained in drugs used to treat ADHD.  Exercise can help the child’s body learn to cope with distracting thoughts and impulsive behavior.

Children who suffer from hyperactivity and problems with concentration who exercised regularly performed better on tests of attention and had less impulsivity, even without medication.  Numerous research studies have confirmed these findings. 

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