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Active 4 Year Old

More then anything I think I just want to vent. I am ashamed of myself. I have a beautiful just turned four year old boy who I adore. The problem is he is full of energy and sometimes he just acts plain silly. I am okay with this at home but find that in public I get annoyed and irratated with him not so much for his behavior but becuase of what I think other people think. I worry they think I can't control him or am basically not a good parent. I feel like I am not being fair to my son when I sit there and wish he would be quiet like the other kids. He is really not loud or harmful he is just distracting - dancing, moving, making faces, shadow boxing.........

He can be very good and he is a smart little guy who loves life but when he gets excited he just doesn't know what to do with himself so he starts to move. He will jump, fiddle, hop, touch other kids, etcetera. He is not mean spirited he just has to move. He knows this is an issue because he gets repremanded (at home, school, everywhere) so much. He has even asked me to help him not be so excited but I really am at a loss for what to do. I have tried both good cop bad cop but nothing seems to work.

I talked to his teacher at prek and the doctor and they said we can watch him but he is only 4 and maybe just a little late to mature. If it does turn out to be a problem I am against medication but get the impression from the doctor and teacher that is the most effective way to go.

I would appreciate any words of advice or encouragement.

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I have 2 high energy children - one who is high strung, so I understand how sometimes you feel that other people think - oh she can't control them. but just remember every child at least once misbeahves in public (if not wya more than once, more like once a week).

I agree that channeling some energy might also help. my son takes a sports class at Little Gym and he loves it.

Good luck.

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Channel his energy into good things. 1st a gymnastics class/t-ball/baseball/soccer to burn some of it off and 2nd a Karate teacher to learn some disipline and control. I am not saying that you are not disiplining him, he is asking for your help to 'control' himself. He will learn how to control his body and connect it to his mind there. Now none of will happen overnight but it is a process.
Best of luck!!!!!

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Holy cow! Sounds ALOT like my 5 year old daughter!! She is CONSTANTLY moving, singing (loudly I might add!)touching everyhting in the stores, even while I am trying to brush her hair she is wiggling her hips! The girl can just not stop moving or talking! I was sure her kindergarten teacher was going to tell me she needs to be on some sort of medicine!! (which I would also NEVER put her on)but that has not happened. I really don't have any advice for you because I haven't figured out anything that works except gentle reminders whenever we are out to settle down or stop touching whatever she is touching. But I just wanted to sympathize with you. I also look at the other kids I see quietly standing at their moms sides and wonder why my kids can't do that while she is hopping around or exploring all the while singing some song from the radio she has stuck in her head! Every other aspect of her is wonderful, she uses good manners, very friendly, outgoing(obviously!),etc., so I can't complain too much. I did just enroll her in a martial arts class, Jeet Kun Do, which is actually really great for her. Your son might like that. I also had people telling me to try Karate for discipline, but I think that is too slow paced. Her class teaches discipline also, but it is more of a get moving, physical class, which gets out more energy I think. She is loving it. Sorry this is long....but I feel your frustration! It can be very exhausting!!

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Sounds like my daughter.

I disagree with teachers and doctors who state that kids should be medicated to deal with their constant "moving". The thing about kids is that they are supposed to move. They are supposed to be full of energy and just move.

Have you found things that he likes to do (karate, jui jitsu) where there is a lot of movement, but they teach discipline, as well? It might help him sort out where it's ok to run wild and where it is not.

He's still young. Take him to the park and enjoy him. Let him run around and just be who he is.

I would advise doing research on nutrition and alternative methods of dealing with an over-active child before going the medicine route. I was a nanny for 2 brothers who were on all kinds of medication and I just always thought that they looked "vacant" while on the medicine. Their parents finally took them off and they seemed to come back to life. The parents did watch what they ate (whole organic foods, and no gluten, etc) and made sure that the TV stayed off except for 1 movie per week. The rest of the time was board games, playing outside, sports, etc. That seemed to work better than the medication.

Good luck. I hope you find the way that works best for you and your child...regardless of what anyone else thinks.

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I agree with Shelly. Channeling his energy is a good way to go. My 7 year old is what her 1st grade teacher called wiggly. Julianna has to move. Even when she's in deep concentration, she moves. Her old teacher said she thinks she's a little hyperactive but nothing that needs medication.

She's always been wiggly, so when she was 3, I put her in a ballet class for tots. It really helped. Even though she was wiggly in class, it taught her some self discipline. Winter's are usually more difficult than summer because she's cooped up. So I found a McDonald's with an indoor playland. We go pretty regularly during the winter because it allows her to run around and just have good ole fun. When we get home, it's out of her system (for a while)

Another thing I've done is tell her what behavior is appropriate where ever we are. Before we walk in, I remind her. I also have to do that with my 5 year old who is convinced that she's a tap dancing penguin. I let her know before we get to where we're going, you're a little girl here, not a penguin. It really helps them both. Sometimes they need reminding. I have code words. When I say inside voice, it means they're too loud. When I say inside play, they're being too rowdy. You get the picture. Firm reminders have been a big help.

I wouldn't be too hard on him. He wants to be better and that means he's trying. Just keep working with him.

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I am the mother of two boys- one 18 and one 15. The 18 year old was just like your 4 year old when he was 4. 14 years later he was the valedictorian of his high school and just started college at one of the nation's best universities. Why am I telling you this? To help you to relax and enjoy your son's excitement and energy in a positive way. As long as his energy is a positive happy force and not negative and harmful to others let him be himself and enjoy him. Worrying about whether he is doing what other kids are doing or what other people think is totally irrelevant. Allow him to be himself- that is being a good parent.


My older son has ADHD, and my younger son and all of my nephews are very high energy. Energy, fidgetiness, etc., alone do not mean ADHD. And even though I know pediatricians diagnose it, I would want to see some testing and evaluations done.

What you've described could also describe a couple of my nephews who don't have ADHD. Totally normal active kid stuff.

They are also things that can come about because of sensory integration issues (which my son also has) so I think that it's a great tip to look into an evaluation with an OT. The opthomalogist recommendation is a good one too - that was something I just learned about a few months ago myself and haven't had my son evaluated yet.

But I posted because I wanted to tell you that in my experience, the year when he was 4 was the absolute most difficult with my ADHD son. He was unhappy, we were unhappy with him, his school was calling every week. We got him into OT right after he turned 5, and that helped, but also, he developed a lot more capacity for self-control in the Kindergarten year. He will never be the best-behaved child in school, but supporting him at home and in OT and being lucky enough to have a great K teacher really turned things around for him that year.

Totally agree with other posters, to get him in activities as soon as he's old enough to do them (my son wasn't great with following directions at 4, but started a boys' dance class at 5.5 that was great and now does all sorts of sports and activities.) He's 7 now and hasn't taken medication, and is doing great in school. I would never say no to something that would help him and I'm not opposed to medication someday if he needs it, but it was important to us to choose therapies to help him, not for the convenience of his teachers.

Oh, one more thing - routine, routine, routine was great at this age. We also liked the 1-2-3 Magic book, because our son responds well to predictable consequences and schedules. Sticker charts are good too - just make sure the timeline for rewards is short at this age.

Good luck! I know how frustrating it is, and I think I have permanent psychic scars from that year. You will all get through this and your wonderful boy will still be wonderful, no matter what the outcome is. Like your son, my guy is sweet-natured and also such an interesting thinker. I enjoy him so much and he is so worth the extra effort it takes to parent him!

I am 100% against medication as well. My adult friends that took meds say it never worked for them.

Your son is 4 I believe his behavior is normal. Most boys are very active, and girls. It changes as they age.

I am glad you vented. You are not the onlyone in the nightmare of judging active children and parents who are rearing them.

My school is so bad that they think there is something wrong with my child and me. In kindergarten I was told that we both needed to be medicated. I wish I had a tape recorder at the time. I signed paperwork for my son to be tested. They refused to have him tested until I signed that they could talk to his therapist. I realized after they were so nasty and insulted me by saying I needed drugs they had alter motives. In first grade his teacher went so far as to say she wanted him in his seat druling. She disliked him from the day she met him. When I had him tested last year. They said that he is super bright according to their testing. I demanded the testing by the way. They do not know how he learns. They do not understand him. They do not want to deal with him. I have lost all faith in education. To blame me for their not being able to deal with him is stupid. I know what my son is and I see who he will be. Just like his brother I know what he can do. I know they only give a damb about passing a test for the government. They also need his butt in a seat so they get money.

I stopped being upset by his behavior and no longer worry what others think of him or my parenting. I kids are themselves. When I see a kid acting out I wonder what is going on in their live. I do not blame the family. A lot of things happen to make us who we are.

Thursday I had a conservation with the teacher. She claimed she wanted to know him better. She had sent home a note that he was not behaving or doing his work in school. I asked her to clarify. She began with telling me he has no friends. He trys to make friends by touching others and being in thier face. He pulls others back packs, pushes them etc. I know my son is all boy and out spoken. I also know he is bullied and was bullied. I also know that the teachers do not like him. So all they see is his bad behavior. They do not see his creativity or independence. The your are to stupid to understand voice was coming from her. He cannot not behave or learn. I am only to read the books they send home with him he cannot read anything else. I must look through his backpack and remove all paperwork sent home. I must leave his loggs for books read and homework in his folder. I informed her that he can read at home and do math on his own. She told me she was shocked and did not believe me. I told her that we work with him on his behavior all the time. She asked several times if this is true. She even told me she was shocked that we work with him at all. Time to leave school or hire a lawyer I think. No child left behind can really mess with a school.

They want a COOKIE not an individual. Our children are individuals. This means they have a mind and use it. I personally to not want sheep for children. I want someone who questions and fights for their individual ideas and questions authority. They become the scientists, leader, etc of the future.

Be proud! You know your child. Others do not have the energy or time for your child.

I know my child is not perfect but not one of is. We expect to much of children. They want mini adults. Children should play and be care free using their imaginations. They should have eduction not just of reading, writing and math but other skills. NO more of this me me stuff. More all of us the whole world counts.

Do not be embarrassed. You love you son! Stand up for him. He is probably real bright and wonderful. I hope you are as sick as I am of being insulted by others. Remember you are a great mother. Be proud of your son. Help him become special. I am sure you know his potencial. Gibron discribed children as an arrow that we should help fly straight. I always like his discription because we cannot take all the credit or all the blame for their actions.

Keep fighting for your son.

I am venting too!!!!

I am a teacher, and have seen some kids do well with medication, but have seen alot more do better with parenta support and diet and exercise, rather than medication. You may want to find a doctor who will support a non medicated approach.

i feel your pain! i have a 3 yr and 4yr old boys. they are sooo full of energy. many people ask me how do i handle thier energy, especially my 4 yr old. he can tire anybody out!! i agree with everyone else completely. both are in gymnastics( basically running around for 1/2 hour) and swim class. it really does help to have them involved in something so they can burn off that energy. this can be totally expensive but totally worth it!!some kids are full of a lot of energy. and some are not, but no one should be judging you for your kid being a kid, thats their problem.

their teachers are always telling me they are well-behaved in school.LOL! so i know they know when it is time to settle down and listen. i also agree to watch what they are eating, and not watching to much tv. good luck!

If it gets to the point where someone is suggesting you need to medicate your son, you might consider asking his doctor to order an occupational therapy evaluation. My son had some of the same behaviors you describe and it turns out he was having trouble with his visual-spatial skills and coordinating movement on both sides of his body. It was like his body needed the movement so that he could tell where everything was. We did about 8 months of weekly occupational therapy and it seems to have helped. We are now seeing a developmental ophthalmologist (recommended by his OT) to address some difficulties he has with eye teaming, which can also contribute to those types of behaviors. I would never have known to ask for the OT evaluation if my brother hadn't had similar isues when he was that age. It would be so sad to medicate the exuberance out of your sweet little boy. Good luck!

As a parent of a 5 year old boy and a teacher, do not be bullied into medication without seeing a neurologist. Teachers, other parents, and most of all a general pediatrician, can not determine any type of attention deficit order without specific testing. Your son's behavior is a red flag, but it is not a diagnosis. The only reason I say that is because his behavior has required some type of response, by the adults in his life, in different settings.

Before, you jump into that lion's den, you can check his sleep schedule, he needs around 10-11 hours. Early bedtimes vs. later bedtimes are also seen to improve energic behavior.

I would start with a diet change. I am not a health food nut, but I am a believer in healthy choices for children. More fiber, less processed sugar and flour. Studies have shown, that most people react to red dye, white sugar, and flour. Although my family still has that in our diet, it takes a backseat to fresh fruits, 100% juice, lots of water, and whole grains. Breakfast and snacks especially need to be watched. What is nice is you can find healthy alternatives in your regular stores now.

Studies have also shown that children with a lot of energy should be active in some type of physical activity several times a week. It gives the body the excercise it needs. A park can also do the trick, so does running and moving for at least 30 minutes.

I am not kidding. It can be that easy to turn around if it isn't ADD or ADHD. Watching him will not give him the ability to turn it around, making some changes will. If it doesn't change for the better, then you can have him tested by a specialist. The next changes may be medication, but that should not be the first thing you try.

My son still has a lot of energy, but I have really worked on building his attention span by reading books, doing puzzles, working on coloring and painting, and other sitting activities. This quiet working time has helped tremendously. We also chose 1/2 day school for his Kindergarten. This allows him to have a great day all the time, because it is the best of both worlds. Next year, he will be developmentally ready for all day.

Ladies have given you great encouragement. I just wanted to toss out 2c book recs that can help give scientific cred to the claims that 4 year old boys are just movers by nature and can be so without being "bad" (and frankly I am a very strict parent!). Raising Cain and Bringing Up Boys are the 2 titles. Before medication definitely consult a psychologist who is not just going to hand you and you young son to the pharmacist. Good luck!

I have 2 high energy children - one who is high strung, so I understand how sometimes you feel that other people think - oh she can't control them. but just remember every child at least once misbeahves in public (if not wya more than once, more like once a week).

I agree that channeling some energy might also help. my son takes a sports class at Little Gym and he loves it.

Good luck.

Sounds like my 4 year old. He has so much energy he even wears his friends out. In addition, my boy talks to every single person including strangers that come into our path and involves them in long conversations. Most people are amused by this by not always and it can be embarrassing.

My advice is to get your boy in as many park district classes that you can handle especially the kind that involve physical activities. And maybe an art or music class to help him learn to relax sometimes.

I don't think there is anything seriously wrong with your son. Just think how terrible it would be if he were the complete opposite. I've seen children this age that are shy and subdued and all they want to do is sit on the couch and watch TV. The behavior you are describing sounds like you have a boy that is outgoing, creative and intelligent. But you will have to tell him gently which behaviours are not appropriate.

Don't let him have too many sugary foods. Even juice and fast food restaruants have too much sugar. I noticed this makes them too high strung. From my experience, diet is important and has an effect on kids behavior. Also watch out for drinks with caffeine.

Hope this helps.

I have a 4year old who is somewhat similar. Everything with her is very intense, her emotions are very big, she has more energy than any other 4year old I've met. Last year in preschool I almost thought I was going to have to pull her out. I read a book by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka called "Raising Your Spirited Child" which helped me understand her more and learn how to deal with her and situations. And also how to deal with what I think other people think. I've read several other books which have helped me too, I'd be happy to share the info if anyone is interested.

I would ask your ped and the preschool teacher for some book recommendations that can give you some ideas on ways to redirect his silly behavior so he is still getting the movement and outlet he needs, while the behavior is less attention-drawing (if it is bothering you in public like you said). The big thing is, if you want to alter the behavior, you need to give him a replacment behavior that is meeting his same need to expell that excitement and energy. There are books talk about raising "spirited children" that you might find have some good techniques in them. If you find your doctor and the teacher don't have some favorites, do a post about books that other moms have found helpful. If it is a maturity issue, some redirecting of his behavior is probably a great place to start. There are many parents that manage behaviors and even ADHD symptoms without medication. If it is a true neurological ADHD, it can be challenging and a lot of hard work, but it can be done. Many times in boys it is a maturity and environmental issue. If you can do some things to help him find alternative behaviors, you might be a lot more content in public and he might be also if he is getting corrected about his behavior like you said.

Good luck.

I am a certified early childhood teacher who has been a licensed family childcare provider for 13 years plus I'm the mother of a now 20 year old son. Consequently, I have had many young men in my life over the years. My bottom line observation: they are designed for action! Asking them not to move is about as doable for them as asking them not to breathe! It's part of who they are and why we love them. As for public experiences like shopping, keep them short as you can, and try building in some delayed gratification. Example: We'll shop for 15 minutes, state your expectations, such as I want you to walk with me holding onto the shopping cart, and then we'll go to the park (or some other place where being active is appropriate) To be developmentally appropriate, the school he is attending should require only short periods of sitting still type learning, such as listening to a story. Other learning experiences should be incorporating the opportunity to move since preschool children learn through doing. Also, your son may well be picking up your anxiety about how you feel, and since he wants to please you, but can't, this only adds to his need to move to release the tension he in turn feels. So, do your best to be understanding of his need to move and try to channel it into appropriate times and places.

Hope this help,

As a person who has worked in schools with several levels of hyperactive kids, I would recommend seeking the help of your schools counselor when he reaches kindergarten if it is still a problem.
There are also some diets out there that are successful for some kids, one in particular a friend of mine used with her son called the Finegold (sp?)diet. I know one big thing was excluding dyes and dramatic sugar reduction. I am sure you can find information about this and other similar diets online. My friend had REAL success with it when everyone was saying medication.
Good Luck.

I'm a little behind in reading my emails (ok alot lol), but I had to respond because you described my son to the "T". It's nice to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm also constantly worried that people are going to think I'm a bad parent because of the way he acts, but he just has trouble controlling himself.

My son just started kindergarten (just turned 6), but has been like this for a few yrs now. I also thought of ADD/ADHD, but the teachers and his doctor told me it was probably just normal behavior since he had never been in any kind of school situation before (no preschool). We had a meeting with the principal, teacher, and social worker at his school, and at their suggestion we made up a behavior contract. His teacher listed the 3 things she most wanted him to do (Keep hands and feet to self, follow teachers directions, and stay in his seat or assigned area). His teacher fills out the form each day with a "Y" or "N" as to whether or not he did each thing, one section for morning and one for afternoon. His teacher signs it and it comes home each day, he signs it, we sign it, and it gets returned to school. He gets a sticker each day he has a good day (mostly Y's, for now doesn't have to be all Y's) and at the end of a good week he gets a special prize like a dollar store toy or something (as long as the sheets were returned every day). We've also solidified our routine at home (we were kind of slacking on that) and also given him a couple simple chores to do. One is clean up his toys before dinner, then he can watch his cartoons while he eats. He's been awesome since we started the contract and the chores, seems like a changed child. I thought for sure we had special ed/behavior disorder classes in our future!!!! Maybe your son just has to learn about accountability and that his actions have consequences. I thought my son understood that concept, it's not like he's never gotten a time out or anything, but I guess not!

This may not be good advice for your son, everyone is different, but just wanted to let you know that you're not alone! Good luck and hope things turn out ok for you.

Little boys ARE perpetual motion! Part of the lovable but sometimes very trying package....
However, I keyed in on a couple of words you used to describe your boy and was just wondering if the possibility of him having Aspergers was ever checked?

take care -

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