5-Year-old. Hyper or Normal?

Updated on August 11, 2011
J.O. asks from Novi, MI
14 answers

My 5-year-old is having increasing trouble entertaining himself before he wants TV again. He is showing increased lack of impulse control, like say BOOP and bouncing a ball on his sibling's head. He uses his fists and feet on his siblings without thinking all the time. He is not often plain out mean, though. All of this seems to be building. He was better at age 3-4. Maybe it's a stage, or he's simply exposed to more at school, etc. He goes nuts like clockwork between 5 and 7pm each day. I DREAD that time. He pants like an animal and throws himself off the couch, gets into fights with his siblings and is generally just off the wall.

I have him in a half day summer camp b/c he has so much energy. A boy there said he was wild! Is this normal? A phase? I asked his teachers about ADHD and they said no. His teachers would know, I assume. One of the teachers has two girls with the disorder, and she said my son does not have it.

I feel like I can't control him, especially between 5 and 7pm. It's that time right now as I type, and he is bouncing off my bed laughing like an animal. He is much better during the daytime.

School is so scheduled, and his teachers' kids have the disorder. They said they did not see it in him. Could the scheduled school mask a disorder? He only did preschool so far, and he was always KEPT busy there.
Afternoons he gets his 2 hrs. of TV. But that leaves the WHOLE rest of the day where he can go nuts. Snacks vary but never total junk.

I should not have to plan every minute of his day so he won't be hyper and off the wall. He is 5!
Note we have no electronic toys or video games. Just a tv. All his friends have video games but that's not a route I'll take.

What can I do next?

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answers from Austin on

Ok, here's a thought....

When is his last snack? If you gave us more detail about snack times and what he is eating, that may have some clues.

What I am getting at is that low blood sugar can cause irritability, a jittery feeling, difficulty concentrating, anger,

If he is eating snacks high in carbohydrates or sugars, he may be experiencing a blood sugar crash, which, at 5 years old, doesn't know how to handle.

Take note of what he is eating in the afternoon, and when... see what the timing is. Try to give him snacks that may be higher in protein, or more balanced between proteins and carbs. See if an afternoon snack higher in proteins helps decrease those behaviors around 5 pm.

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answers from Honolulu on

1) he could be over-tired. Some kids get more 'hyper' when over-tired. Does he get enough sleep every day?
Some kids this age still need to nap.
My daughter did, especially after a long day of school

2) is he bored? Bored kids get much more into "mindless" physical activity.

3) You said, between 5-7pm, he gets like this. THIS is when, many kids are just TOO tired already. It is the "witching hour" still. Even if they are not a baby.
Make sure he is fed or has a snack already.

4) Does he do anything creative? Try that. He is used to just being entertained. But can't entertain himself.
Turn OFF the electric toys.
Tell him and guide him on doing other things. Maybe build something, do crafts, pretend play etc. Paint.

5) Some kids, just do not know how to think of activities by themselves. Hence they get bored. Hence they get all over the place.
Have things for him to do. Have a 'schedule' at home too.
Let him unwind after his day, have a snack, rest and deflate. THEN have him do chores. Keep him busy.
He is young... he needs direction.
He can't manage his own direction.
Kids this age, cannot do "time management" on their own.

And then, talk to your Pediatrician.

He seems real over-tired. And bored.
If my kids don't nap (my 4.75 year old son still naps every afternoon. And my 8 year old daughter will when she is tired)... they get bonkers at that time span too. When they are like this, I KNOW they are over-tired.
When my Daughter is over-tired, she can't even eat.

AND when my kids are hungry, they NEED to eat/snack. I feed my kids, on demand. If their blood-sugar level drops... it makes for a CRANKY and out of sorts kid.
My kids NEED to graze... AND when hitting growth-spurts.
Last summer, my daughter was eating constantly and hungry, literally. She was growing and that summer she grew like 5 inches!
I feed them healthy and not junk, so I don't mind them eating/snacking when their body needs to.
They still eat dinner just fine.

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answers from Williamsport on

My kids are off the wall a couple of times per day within their allowed limits (my 3 year old has sprinted between the kitchen and the entry way about 25 times right now because he had dinner and after dinner is one of those times).

Enforce your rules, make sure he exercises more during the day so enforcing isn't super hard.

If you have disciplined certain elements of the off the wall behavior firmly, effectively and calmly every single time he ever started it for all these years (like the first time he ever used a fist and a foot on a sibling you calmly said, "no kicking and punching" and ENFORCED EVERY TIME), and he still can't possibly control it, then maybe an exam is in order, but if he's been permitted to do these things with no more than exasperation and yelling from you, or mild techniques like time out (NOT good for high energy times), then he's just doing what he knows when his energetic spurts hit and it's nothing medical. Always make sure discipline has NOT worked before jumping to disorders assumption. Some kids are naturally WAY MORE energetic and wild than others. It's not a defect.

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answers from San Francisco on

My suggestion is that since you know that this is how he will be during this time, that you take steps to manage it beforehand. Feed him a nutritious snack around 4pm - maybe a cheese stick, some carrot sticks, and some wheat crackers - something that is fairly well-rounded and without a lot of sugar. This will help his blood sugar stay consistent. My kids act like maniacs when they have too much sugar, and when they're hungry, they cry, hit each other, and have other out-of-character behavior. So I do think food is a big part of the solution here.

And then plan something for him to do. How about going outside to ride bikes, or go swimming, or play at the park? Maybe teach him to jump rope or dribble a basketball. Exhaust him, and he will not have enough energy to act crazy!

If all else fails, send him to his room to play by himself. Tell him, "Joey, I love you but your behavior is driving me crazy right now. I need you to go play by yourself for a while." I tell my younger daughter that. She tends to be a wild child at times, and she is starting to learn (just turned 6) that in order for all of us to live happily together, she needs to take her crazy somewhere else sometimes!

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answers from Detroit on

Hi J.---I agree that maybe he needs a structured rest time. Doesn't mean he has to nap but he needs to be in his room reading...watching TV does not count. I think the healthy snack idea is also a good one. I also think that you will need to schedule some time to sit down and do something with him during the afternoon, a project, walk to the park, playing catch outside. Break up the afternoon with these 'projects' in between watching TV.

Also, have him help you, as much as he can, in the kitchen when you fix dinner. Kids love to help in the kitchen and you can start a life-long love of cooking. There is nothing more sexy than a man who can cook for his lady. It will take time and commitment from you until you determine a schedule and routine that will work for both of you. Sometimes their behavior is simply a plea for attention. You both might have to compromise...you more at first. Good luck...be patient and realize that your job is to teach him how to entertain himself. D.

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answers from Sacramento on

ADHD is 24/7. You won't see a spike at one part of the day. It's the entire day that's a nightmare. No break from it at all.

I don't know any child with ADHD who does well in school without treatment. If they're hyper at home, they're hyper at school (along with all of the other symptoms). It doesn't matter how busy they keep a child or how structured things are. If a child has ADHD, they can't control their behavior and it can lead to serious problems at school. In fact, it's often problems at school that are the big tip-off that behavior isn't normal. Teachers can't diagnose ADHD, but they will certainly let you know if your child is disruptive or struggling.

So, I'd take a sigh of relief that it's not ADHD. You truly don't want to walk in my shoes. However, it is worth a talk with the pediatrician for advice on how to manage those challenging times. Your son's should be able to offer some tips and point you to useful books and other resources that can help.

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answers from Detroit on

Although teachers see children with add/adhd they are not doctors and every child is unique.

You said he eats pretty healthy snacks. Protein does help stabilize blood sugars.

Have you thought about having him tested for allergies? There could be something in food or the products you use to clean your home that may trigger this behavior.

Hope this helps



answers from Houston on

My almost 6 yo and his friends don't act like this so I'd say it isn't normal. I say its a phase since he isn't like this all the time with every single person he comes in contact with.

If he is that wild and unreasonable btw 5-7pm you might have to get everything done before and after, and 5-7p should be focused on spending time with him and finding out what's going on.

Kids can be stimulated by different things at different times. My kid can go right to sleep after watching a 2 hr movie like Star Wars. Some kids will stay awake all night after that. Sounds like your child's brain is always on. Perhaps things in the home stimulate it, like the other children's voices, your voice, the colors of the carpet, the color of clothes.

No, you shouldn't have to plan something for every minute of the day for him. Hope it'll get better for you.



answers from Boston on

Only a doctor can diagnose AD(H)D. Ask your pediatrician for advice.
My kids were always easy to deal with IF I made sure they were a) well fed, b) well rested and c) had outside play time to climb and run and be free. Maybe try to keep a stricter schedule: breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times. Then outside time (playground, your own yard, minigolf, going for a bike ride, swimming at a local pond, even walking through the mall on a rainy day) every day from maybe 2 to 4. Then go home and make dinner and allow a movie during the pre-dinner time so you can have some time without them. Then a long play-bath or short shower, read some books, and then lights out. You may also have to be very strict with him. I was pretty much in control from day 1 and the kids know I mean business. That is not to say I don't get fed up with them sometimes ( with mine it is delaying and dilly-dallying and then chat-chat-chatting when they are supposed to be getting ready for bed). It may just be that he needs more interaction with age mates or with you to keep from getting bored.



answers from Boston on

Have you looked into spd (sensory processing disorder) he seems to have signs of the type that requires constant sensory input, the moving, jumping, touching others.

My youngest is 4 and saw an ot for 2 years or it. They gave him a schedule of certain activities that allowed him to safely get the input he needs. An ex. Instead of jumping on the bed he got a little kid trampoline and did 30 minutes of jumping before bed


answers from New York on

Can you give more info what is he doing during the afternoon, what is he eating for afternoon snack? why did his teachers say he isnt ADHD?



answers from Milwaukee on

Don't be so quick to diagnose your kid w/ a disorder. He's a hyper 5 yr old. If you know he goes crazy between 5-7pm try different things to see if they help. Is his blood sugar low and he needs a small healthy snack? Is he overtired at that point? Maybe about 445pm have him sit down w/ a coloring book or other quiet activity to have some relaxing time. Just because kids don't nap anymore doesn't mean then don't need some down time, which they won't take on their own.

To quote yourself back to you.....He is 5! He is still a small child. He still needs leadership and direction from you.

And no, your teachers are not qualified to diagnose ADHD. They are not doctors.



answers from Detroit on

I have twin 6 year old boys and one is VERY much like this. Always has been. He does fine if I structure his time. That doesn't mean I entertain him the whole day, but I definitely have to organize it. Time management is not his responsibility, it is mine. Which means I have to say, "ok, get a puzzle and come to the kitchen table to build it" which he will do for however long it takes, but I can't just say "go play" or he will be going crazy. Structure seems to be the key for us.



answers from Detroit on

I'm just plain against labelling period. Too many are too willing to label a person or child for one dumb reason or another. A school system maybe because they set higher standards and some child falls just below and therefore has to endure special ed when it really isn't necessary.

Has your son been put in time out? There's no way he should not feel the consequences of using his feet and hands on his siblings. I'd get to the bottom of it real quick. But he needs the naughty seat every time it happens and to understand what he sees at school and on tv is not acceptible behavior.

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