5 Year-old with Lots of Energy

Updated on June 21, 2010
M.L. asks from Ajo, AZ
14 answers

Help, my 5 year old is out of control most of the time. I'm thinking about putting him on meds but my doc. doesn't want to because of his age. I need something to slow him down. At school he really can't focus. But at home he watches alot of tv. He loves to play with his PSP. He doesn't do to much activity during the day because he stays with grandma. But we try to get him out in the evening.

What can I do next?

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answers from Tucson on

I would organise something like accessing toy libraries or getting him into Leggo.

I have a very active 7 year old (makes me exhausted sometimes, but I build things in like going to playgrounds on down time and working on things together (puzzles, lego).

All the best

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answers from Rochester on

I think you will get better and more helpful answers if you are more specific. I might have some but ideas please add some more information:

What kind of routine do you follow?
What kind of activities does he do during the day? How much is unstructured, structured, and active play?
Does he participate in any groups or go to child care?
Is he in school (preschool or kindergarten)?
How much sleep does he get uninterrupted? (At night or in naps.)
What kind of limitations do you put on his behavior? Is he aggressive or just energetic? If he is agressive is it because of specific triggers or is it when he is tired in general or all the time?

I think a little more information will help anyone offer more specific advice--I will check back later to see if you have anything to help clarify and then maybe I'll have some advice. :)


Thanks for the added information! :)

He does not sound in need of medication AT ALL. Children his age require a great deal of active play every day. My children are literally climbing our bookshelves and dancing on the dining table on rainy days because they can't be outside running amok. If he is in regular school and there even a half day, he still needs a physical break. Children who watch too much television have much shorter attention spans for school and are not getting enough activity. It can be hard with a relative providing care, especially if the relative is not able to accomodate the active play, but it is important.

My children, sadly, watch too much television as well, but we try to keep it to a total of less than a full length movie. I use that time to clean, cook, make phone calls, or to help them relax right before bed (sit still and unwind) or while giving my youngest his nebulizer treatments. The recommendations is 2 hours or less for screen time and it can be hard to remember to include computer time in that total. There are definitely days we go over that (mommy home sick) and days we do not turn it on, so it balances out.

I don't know what PSP is, but basically he should be getting a lot more active play time. He is old enough for organized activity at rec centers if your area offers them in the summer. If you are struggling with his grandma meeting his activity levels, try to arrange for easy active places she can take him--a fenced in park, a children's museum, getting a family zoo pass, or again lessons or sports activities with an instructor. If my kids are awake, I try to work out with them (when I have the energy), so we are all doing something active together and burning some of that evening energy off (their energy, my desperation).

I hope some ideas help. There are children who have issues that cannot be controlled by any amount of activity--I have an adult friend who has struggled his whole life with attention and focus and runs over five miles every day. He finally got himself diagnosed and on medication and feels he can function normally. That is not typical. Try some of the suggestions you're getting here and give them time to work. It will be hard weaning him off of television, but set some limits for it. You could even get a special stop watch and get him on board with clocking his screen time--get him excited about his active time (he probably won't need much encouragement). :)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Most kids this age (especially boys) have tons of energy! I have 6 boys...4 of my own and 2 nephews...without specific examples of his excessive energy I am tempted to say your son sounds normal! All my boys have had and still do have TONS of energy! Not sure about wanting to give him something to slow him down but exercise and structured activities might be in order...might be time to enroll him in a summer soccer program or something along those lines?

Do you have a fenced yard? Is it possible to send him outside to play?

~ My MIL told me that when my DH and his lil' brother were younger and driving her crazy with all their energy she used to send them outside to take some laps around the house:)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

i would suggest not to give him meds he isn't sick or anything ,he is just like any normal 5 yr old he has alot of energy.try and takin him to the park for a lil so it can wind him down so when you get home.he will be tired to be bouncing every where.also if he is not in sports i thing now is the best time 'since summer is right around the corner

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

He probably can't focus in school b/c he's too used to TV and PSP. Get him OUTSIDE to play as much as possible. Look into a traditional foods diet:
He won't slow down if he doesn't have an outlet for that energy, which is normal. Don't try to slow him down, but try to get him moving!

Ask Grandma to read out loud to him chapter books. It might be three minutes at first, but get his brain working instead of letting the TV do the entertaining. It will help him learn to focus and expose him to great literature. If he can't listen at first, give him an activity to do during the reading: puzzles, cards, painting, building blocks. And then give him time to run around outside. Good luck!



answers from Honolulu on

**Can't Grandma take him out? He's 5, and they get bored all cooped up in a house all day. Getting him out in the evening isn't going to be enough activity for a young boy.
I imagine, he is watching so much TV and playing the PSP because he has nothing else to do. Kids, boys, need physical activity. And its just healthier that way.
Or enroll him in sports/activities that Grandma can take him to during the day.
Has the school said he has an "attention problem"???? What does the Teacher say?

Boys are active.
They are also very physical.
They also need lots of run around time to get out their yah-yah's.
If your son is NOT typical and truly medically has issues... then, per your Doctor, you would discuss that.
But your Doctor is not going toward that direction of medicating your son.
That is not the answer to it, perhaps.

And like Mitzi R. said below... you need to be more specific about your son... so other's can offer help.

all the best,



answers from Phoenix on

My 7 year was diagnosed with ADHD. We will do everything else before we use meds (the side effects of the 2 meds he can take are seizures, death and other things which are much worse than hyperactivity). But from lots of reading, research, doctors' visits, etc I've learned that: 30 minutes of television or video games will cause a child to be overstimulated for 24-48 hours. we limit these to 30 minutes at a time and do not allow them on school nights. Also, caffeine actually works differently in ADHD individuals; it works just like Ritalin, and 100 mg of caffeine is equivalent to 5mg of Ritalin. Caffeine is a vasodilator and dilates the blood vessels in the brain which actually helps these kids focus and attend better. Lots of people with ADHD use it and it has helped my son a lot. Don't restrict your son's energy just find appropriate outlets.



answers from Atlanta on

The other thing to think about is his diet. Food colorings, artificial colors, high sugar foods will all make his energy level and attention levels crazy. Just eliminating Red#40 and Blue food colorings can have a big impact on their behavior.
Kids do need lots of exercise also. They don't get to do anything but sit in school so they need play time at home :) If he can sit and play games, he does not likely have a need for medication...
Medications for developing brains can have tons of negatives, and require other medications to eliminate side effects from a medication.
Front line has an amazing special on ADD medications called "The Medicated Child". You should check it out, it's on their PBS Frontline website.



answers from Phoenix on

Hi M., My 5 yr old is VERY energetic also. He has actually been diagnosed with ADHD, not the AD part, but the HD part. Which I go back and forth on whether I believe it or not, but we decided not to medicate for now. I can offer you some things we've tried that have helped a lot. I agree with the others, to limit the TV time. TV is very stimulating, and then when you turn it off, my son is still "on overdrive"...its hard for him to calm down afterwards. And I would absolutely not give him any TV or PSP (whatever that is, I think its a computer game?) before school. Also, making sure that he has protein at every meal. This was big for us. Helped with keeping his blood sugar more stable, also like many others said...limit sugars and colorings. We also put him on 2 supplements, which made a world of difference. One is fish oil, although I recently discovered that krill oil is now considered more beneficial...so will probably switch to that once his is gone. And the other is magnesium. We buy CALM for kids. They have CALM for adults at any health food store, but for some reason I haven't been able to find the kids one except online. It is very cheap though, like 15 bucks for a big container and you only use a tsp a day. Should last you at least 6 months. It is a powder that you mix with a small amount of hot water, and then we just put it in his juice in the morning. It is orange flavored, and you can't even tell. Oh, and outside time every day is VERY important...energetic boys need to "get it out" so to say. Maybe at Grandma's he could play board games with her, or do a puzzle if she can't get him out? Or she could read books with him? Or do a little craft project, or cook a snack together? Something other than TV. Good luck to you!



answers from San Francisco on

I wouldn't suggest meds at all.
All 5 years old are full of energy. They need to burn this energy.
When he watched TV and plays PSP, he doesn't burn the energy, so it gets out of control.
Have him burn all this energy:
- let him play outside of you/Grandma have a yard
- go to the park
- wherever you walk, let him ride a bicycle (when walking the dog, do your jogging...)
- create a "mini gym" at home; make him jump 100 time, then one one foot...

I would also limit the TV/PSP, as the fast motion of the pictures and light affect the ability to focus.



answers from Dallas on

I agree on trying other things before medication. My 5 year old is SOOOO energetic. He starts kindergarten this fall and will obviously see what the teacher has to say about his focus. But we have pulled him off as much caffeine as we can and have seriously limited sugar intake. And you will be surprised at what has caffeine in it ! This has showed a big improvement. We also make sure he gets as much exercise as possibly. I know staying with grandma and getting outside to play is hard - especially in the heat right now - but talk to her and see if she can take him outside or to the park in the morning before lunch. That will help some. Then lunch, rest time and then you can take him out again in the evening. That might help. I am fully in favor of meds if nothing else works and they really need them but the docs do try to wait as long as possible to put them on them. Good luck !



answers from Phoenix on

Boys have MASSIVE amounts of energy. They need to be outside a ton and allowed to go, go, go. We have trouble with our 4yo whenever we try to keep him cooped up in the house too long. Behavior is better whenever we make sure he has plenty of opportunity to run off his energy naturally. Keep him outside, keep him going, keep him running, and keep him off of the computer, TV, and electronic games. Good luck!!!

Also, a clean diet can help a lot - nix food colorings, preservatives and additives, and limit sugar. Protein is good - I try to use more protein-based foods than carb-foods.



answers from Tucson on

In addition to all the great advice already given, there has been some research into decreased symptoms of ADHA/ADD behaviors when omega 3s are added to the diet. Most children will not eat salmon or mackerel fish so go to your local Sunflower market, Whole Foods, New Life, or other health food store and they will direct you to the omegas for kids. Here is the link on Dr. Weil's website regarding supplementation for ADD/ADHD.



answers from Phoenix on

Not sure but if your little one is not very active during the day. Maybe see if his grandma can take him on some outings while she has him so he can burn some energy. Pump it up is a bounce house that they could try during the summer. Or maybe put him in swim lessons. Even an outing to the mall would do some good to get him out. Even if she is not able to get him out maybe turning off the tv and taking away the psp for a while. Let his imagination do some work. Puzzles, workbooks, or even making crafts could help.
Other then trying to get them out I would suggest going to sprouts and asking the vitamin manager what they would recommend over the counter to help calm the child. I would have to say I would agree with the Dr. to try other alternatives first.

Good luck

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