13 answers

3-Year Old with Non-stop Energy!

My son is CONSTANTLY running around, and pretty much ignoring everything I tell him. He doesn't want to listen to anything I tell him, he runs around all day and is sometimes rough with his younger sister who is 16 months. He acts fine with my youngest daughter who is 9 weeks. He is extremely active, and tends to dstroy things around the house. My husband and I don't know what to do. He's a very sweet and loving boy...he just has his moments. He refuses to take naps, so he's usually running around from 10am until around 11 or 11:30pm. I've tried making his bed time 8:45, but he gets up saying he's scared, or he's hungry, or "the dinosaurs are coming." I don't let him watch anything violent, and he isn't allowed to watching anything too exciting before bed. I even read a story and pray with him every night before bed. I'm out of ideas, and I'm desperate. I appreciate any and all suggestions.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank all of you so much for the advice! He still won't take a nap, but he is going to bed at 9 now, as opposed to 11 or 12. I've started waking him up at 8--which he's still adjusting to but he isn't fighting the 9:00 bedtime anymore!! It's so much easier on me now! And yesterday since it waas nice he got to run around in our backyard for a bit with his uncle. and my grandparents (they live next door)

I've stopped letting him have anything too sugary after 7pm...and that seems to help. My husband and I have been making more one on one time with him, and he's been loving it! Yesterday we played with his megablocks and we raced his hot wheels. He had a blast!!!

Thank you all so much again!

Featured Answers

Sounds like some anxiety issues. My son had them (still does but he's 12 now and we've worked on it). He started showing signs at 2. Finding the cause is the trick. Does he eat anything with Red dye? That can be a problem for some kids. I'd keep track of what he's eaten around those episodes, and if there is a pattern, make some changes. If that's not it, I'd try a counselor.

More Answers

Tell us about his diet, about what he eats. Behavior can be affected by food, particulary MILK/DAIRY, and food dyes, preservatives.

You may need to try to alter his bed time by waking him earlier, and there are books that outline for you how to do that.

At bedtime, let the house darken w/ the day, use as little lighting as possible, no TV, no Leapster, no computer -- all those things interfere with turning melatonin on and helping him feel sleepy. And in the morning, open blinds and let natural sunlight in to turn melatonin OFF. One doctor told me to make sure to take the kids out at noon -- melatonin works naturally in sleep cycles and you want it kicking on and off at the right times.

"Is This Your Child?" by Dr Doris Rapp is a good one. You might want to check it out.

It sounds like he's running on adrenaline. He's not getting enough sleep! My daughter was like that. The more tired she got, the wilder she got. We had to literally hold her down sometimes to take a nap and then when she finally gave in, she slept peacefully for hours. She so needed naps but fought them from the day she was born. It was always a struggle to get her to sleep but it made all the difference in the world when she did. So necessary! She took them up until she went to kindergarten. Good sleep begets good sleep. It takes time on your part to get them to sleep, but it's worth it! You have some time to yourself and your kid will be happier and healthier. Good luck! I feel for you!

He needs time out and alot of them and he needs to be told to go to bed and there is nothing going to get him you need to make him stay in bed. His bed time should be 9 no later. If he doesn't go to bed at 9 nicely for you than tell him the next night you add on 15 mins before nine than if he still doesn't go to bed he gets another 15 mins. So thant he next night put him to bed at 830. He keeps it up he gets out time in his bed and than made to go to bed. Just leave him in his bed to fall asleep. He may scream and cry but he is fine. He will finally get it.

People are always trying to tell me that boys are no different than girls. We train them to be different. LOL I guess the proof is in your house and mine!

My son was the same way! Refused to have down time. I suggest setting a schedule and keeping with it. Try "settle down" time about an hour before bed. Quiet play. Books, bath, snuggle up. Use "monster spray" if you have to to keep anything scarey out of his room and make him go to bed. These are habits that will be very important when school becomes a factor.

Good luck!


Oh my...I had to re-read the "from: J." part of the post b/c I swear that it came from me!! LOL! And believe me I know about the constant energy I wish I could bottle it and sell it, or at least stash some away for myself. And my son can be too rough with his twin 5 month old sisters too, soooo fustrating. So I really do feel your pain.

And to be honest, that's jsut how 3 yr olds are. And they do not test children this young for ADD/ADHD for a reason and that's b/c it's completly normal!!! Now if he was a few years older then I would say maybe get him tested, but not at 3. A few years ago I worked at a Preschool and then a daycare, and thta is how ALL of the kids act but at verious degrees.
Now is the time when they are testing their limits, and now is the time the we need to each them what they can/can't get away with.
Right now he really needs conistancy, but he also needs you to be cool with your temper. I am generally a very passive and calm person by nature, very few things set me off. But boy does this kid know how to get me going like no other, it can be soo hard to stay calm after he has done that same thing 100 times after you said to stop 101 times.
He is also looking for attention form you, and he will take whatever he cam get. wether it be posative or negative attention, and I know it's hard to find time, but try to find even just a few more mins to spend some one on one time with him.
Just be paitent and consistant, it will get better. Believe me even as I type this I am reminding myself of this fact too. Oh yeah, and it took me about an hour to type this b/c I had to be consistant with my disaplin of him. I will get easier.

Definitely take an honest look at his diet. Not only can preservatives and dyes be affecting him but the amount of sugar as well. He could be exhibiting signs of food sensitivities to these items that are making his "running around" worse and effecting sleep too.
I don't know enough about your particular situation but it sounds like he needs more boundaries. Find some time to go sit in the Family Section of the bookstore and find something that jives with you.
Dr. Sears Discipline Book, Parenting with Love and Logic, Have A New Kid By Friday are all titles I've personally read and have taken some of the ideas from all and found what worked for us.
Three can be an extremely trying year, setting very clear consequences and boundaries will help him feel secure. Kids love routines, and it may help him settle down and keep you from going crazy.
Good Luck.

Hahahahahaha! (I'm not laughing at you but with you.) It is so nice to know that we are not alone. My Rory will be 3 in April and had been a tazmanian devil since she could walk. When she started therapy (She didn't talk), the therapist called her a little tornado. I lovingly call her my little Terrory. She climbed out of her crib at 16mos within 10 secs. She finds the smallest kids in the playground and pushes them (Then kisses them afterwards). Doesn't take a nap. I sometimes drive around for 30 mins just to get her to nap. She wakes up at 730 in the morning regardless of what time she sleeps.

MY question is when you put him down at 830 is the entire household also down at 830? If he has no one to run to maybe he'll succumb to the time more.

I don't really have much to suggest. With my daughter we make it as much of a routine as possible. SHe gets her shower and then we read her favorite book. I do put a childproof knob thingy on her side of the door to discourage her from getting out (But we still have a monitor in her room). As soon as it's dark out I'm usually able to get mine to sleep.


J., consistancy is the key, if you tell him no and you mean it, then stick to it, if you tell him yes, keep to it, if you say no and change it to a yes, you need to step back and think if im gonna change it, then i might as well just give the yes, so you stay consistant, also if you ever watched the nanny, she puts them in a time out, if they get out, she picks them up and sets them gently back down, and stays consistant, time out is one minute per age, also he might enjoy sitting with you for a bit and doing some kind of brain work, like little work books, sold for that age, and its ok to have a lively child, but its not ok for him to hit or destroy things, that when the adult steps in and simply explains, we dont break things, and we dont hit, lets do a time out, and sit for a bit, while he in a time out no toys, no books, just sitting, afterward, say ok you can get up now, thank you for staying there, and give a hug and let him know you love him, and also restate we dont break things, if you do it again we will have a time out, he might actually enjoy the attention, thats why you need to sit with him and give him good attention, like with books, etc, kids thrive on attention, if they dont get good attention they will try to get bad attention, the more good attention he gets, the less the bad he will strive for, its a parental balancing act, kids are meant to have our attention, and they long for it, so give him attention, take him places, have one on one time, just enjoy them, and continue being a good parent, D. s

Hi J.,

You've got some really good advice here from different moms! The only thing I can maybe suggest is, can you wake him up earlier in the morning, like maybe 7 or 8 am? I know it would be hard to do so after he's been up so late the night before, but I know if my son slept until 10 am, he would be up until 11 pm too!

My son is 3.5 years old and has not taken naps since he was 2.5 years old. On the rare occassion that he does take a nap (like if he falls asleep in the car, or if I talk him into taking a nap for the sole purpose of staying up late (like on New Year's Eve), he will stay up until AT LEAST 11 pm, even if the nap lasts only 15 minutes. I know, I've had people (even nurses) tell me that at 15 minute nap should not affect my son's ability to fall asleep at night, but trust me, it does. If he's had any sort of nap that day, instead of going to bed at 8:30, he will be unable to fall asleep until 11 pm or so.

The same thing happens if he sleeps in late. He usually does not sleep in late, but just as there are rare occasions that he naps, there are rare occasions that he sleeps in late. On any given day, he is not ready to go to sleep until at least 12 or 13 hours after he has waken up in the morning; if he wakes up at 10 am, his body will not let him fall asleep until 10 or 11 pm that night, even if he is tired and even if he needs to catch up on sleep. It is a vicious cycle, and the only way I can break it is to wake him up early (like 7 or 8 am.) He will be tired, but then at least he will go to bed at a decent time that night and break the cycle.

Like I said, you've got a lot of great responses from other parents, I guess its all sort of trial and error for you to see what works best. I do agree with what I read that he may be acting up because he wants / needs your attention. New baby or not, if a child wants your attention, they will do anything to get it, even if that attention you are giving him is negative (discipline; he thinks, "Hey, who cares if she's yelling at me: At least she is paying attention to me!")

You can also try giving him a variety of different activities to do (like playdough, coloring, puzzles, etc), and you can try rotating his toys so they seem new and exciting to him after a while. We have so many toys at our house, I keep most of them in storage boxes either in the kids closets or the basement, and then every week or two, I box up the current toys and put them away while bringing out a different box. Boy, you'd think it was Christmas again!

I wish you luck!


Just a thought. Some kids get hyper when they are not gtting enough sleep. IT sounds like he knows you well enough to know what to do to get out of bed time. WHen my 5 year old was 3 he was a monster (perfect at 2, terrible at 3). Punishing him was even worse. 3 minute time outs took almost an hour to accomplish. It broke my heart to completely ignore him crying and whining at bedtime. I put a baby gate up in his door way to keep him in his room and gave him books on cd so he had a still quiet activity for those nights he stayed in there until 10 before going to sleep. I remember going to bed crying so many nights feeling horrible trying to correct his behavior but it really was the best thing for us. By the time he was 4, he went to bed at 8:00 wihtout incident, took his time outs without much of a fuss and was pretty obediant (for a 4 year old). So my best advice is get tough, you're his parents and the only ones who are going to love him enough to help him learn appropriate behavior and put the weeks of frustration and helplessness in to achieve it. Stay strong and do what you think is best!! Good luck!

NO parent wants to hear this, but you might have him tested for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

I had my son tested, though I didn't believe him to be ADD or ADHD, but he had some really challenging behaviors similar to those you listed. In fact, he is NOT ADHD or ADD, but he does have some sensory issues (he ABNORMALLY seeks the feeling of spinning and ABNORMALLY reacts to loud noises) and suffered from ABNORMAL anxiety levels. We got him involved in some specific activities to feed those sensory needs and his anxiety levels balanced out.

Many strange behaviors are normal for a young child, and they will probably grow out of it, but for peace-of-mind, you could have him checked out. Some issues are easily treated through counseling or therapy, changes in diet and directed activity.

In a worst-case scenario, meds might be helpful. I was totally anti-meds, but my son is so much happier on them. There ARE side-effects, so I would never say there's a magic pill to solve all ones problems. It can also take much trial & error to find the right meds for your child and his issues. Again, this is not an automatic solution, but try to be open-minded to all the options that may be suggested.

Talk to your pediatrician/primary care physician and see about a referral. Also, check your insurance provider's coverage to confirm copays etc. for mental health - it's often much different than traditional medical coverage.

Sounds like some anxiety issues. My son had them (still does but he's 12 now and we've worked on it). He started showing signs at 2. Finding the cause is the trick. Does he eat anything with Red dye? That can be a problem for some kids. I'd keep track of what he's eaten around those episodes, and if there is a pattern, make some changes. If that's not it, I'd try a counselor.

In your "about me" you mentioned having a 16 month old and a 9 week old child too. Maybe the oldest is trying to get you attention. There could be so many reasons for his behaviour but my first suggestion would be to see if there is anyway you can carve out some time for one on one with just him (maybe while the other two nap?) and spend that time playing his favorite game, reading books together, playing on the swings at the park (with the little ones in a stroller or with a sitter or Daddy) or something you can both enjoy together. Encourage Daddy to do the same. Explain that you know it must be hard to be the big brother sometimes when Mommy has to take care of the younger siblings but they need help to be fed and have their diapers changed like you did for him when he was a baby. Remind him that you still love him very much and appreciate when he is a "good boy" and "helpful". Kids are very smart and can understand more than we give them credit for sometimes. Also, talk to his pediatrician about whether his energy level seems excessive or within a normal range. If it is deemed to be excessive, then you can look at further physical reasons like diet, hormone or brain chemical levels, etc. Whatever you choose to do, I wish you all the best and remember to take care of yourself in the midst of being a busy mommy of 3 beautiful kids. Ask for help!

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.