My Hyper Little Guy...

Updated on February 23, 2009
J.L. asks from Monmouth, OR
19 answers

So I've had soooo many people tell me it's normal for an almost 4 year old boy to be hyper active...so why does it feel like I'm the only one that can't keep up with his activity and am annoyed by it some days? It makes me feel like a bad Mom when I get irritated, but when it starts at 8 a.m. and doesn't really stop till bedtime at 8 p.m. ya, I'm a bit irritated by then! Even his Dr. says it's normal, but geez, will he grow out of this as he gets older? He's a very smart little stinker and his verbal skills are above average as well as his motor skills...he's just stinkin on the go and doesn't really slow down much...I try to avoid sugar...he doesn't usually nap anymore but we do have "quiet time" but won't always stay in his room...it's a battle, as are many things with him lately. I'm hoping it's a stage. Not only is his hyperactivity draining to me, it just feels like I'm constantly correcting him, redirecting him, non stop consequences all day long...I'm DRAINED by bedtime...I'd love to hear from other Moms who are going thru the same things who maybe have ideas that work for them to help them cope :) Thanks!

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H.G.

answers from Portland on

What you are going through & how you are feeling are totally normal. That is how I felt about my daughter right before Kindergarten.

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Z.A.

answers from Seattle on

<grinning> I LOVE high energy kids. So much fun, once you get some of the tricks of winding them up (without being caught in the middle) that work for you. Being in the middle is exhausting, and maybe some people are capable of it, but I am not one of those people.

The other thing I am "not one of" is someone with a supportive spouse. You may have one, but I haven't...although he's started trying recently. There have literally been years where I've been on my own. So I'm with ya' on the whole 17hour day thing. Bugger that, and don't expect it of yourself if you are. Being CONSTANTLY responsible for anything is exhausting. I find I'm at my best when I have time away, free. Easier said then done. But you wouldn't treat an employee that way (they'd sue and win for one thing), so if you're your own boss, don't treat yourself that way. Sure taking 5 minutes once an hour is enormously helpful...but it's helpful in the same way that a tourniquet is helpful. It delays death, at a cost, and is no means cure. Make sure sure sure, you have real, honest to goodness time for yourself and with people who speak in complete sentences. AND be sure to take it easy on yourself.

That said:

Here's a list of some of the things that WE do. Please note, I'm not advocating all of this, different things are appropriate for different families/situations. Take what you like, discard the rest:

- Make it SUPER plain that different rules exist in different houses. (So our son knows that he has to ask ...and accept "no's" because people do things differently...and that's one of the great things about life; how things are done differently). As a side effect of this, I'm constantly getting reports on how polite, and how nicely my son asks to do things. Huh. Suckered. That's not politeness...that's survival. I want to actually SEE those people again.

- say "yes" as often as possible. Especially "yes...IF". If the "IF" doesn't get met, the yes turns into a no.

- turned our living room into a gymnasium

- got him involved in year round & seasonal sports

- developed a high noise tolerance

- bought cheap pots and pans @ a garage sale & turned them into drums. (we bought actual drums this xmas, but the pots and pans worked for years)

- allow skateboarding in the house

- allow scootering in the house

- encourage "alternate" methods of transportation (like crawling on your belly like a snake, or wonky, like a crab)

- allow "jumping"...off the stairs, on the bed, on the way to the loo (but not IN the loo), pretty much anywhere.

- put the "nice" furniture in storage. We have some nice furniture we inherited...and since I would be in a fret 24/7 we don't use it. Everything we buy is s.t.u.r.d.y. And if we can't afford an "x" for right now, oh well...we live without one. I'd rather do without then live in fear.

- create "stations" throughout the house. Math, art, building, etc.

- encourage independent play

- dance while cleaning

- music music music...YOU dance, I'm going to read.

- HE cleans (and has since he was 2)...it may not be done well, but hey, if he loves to windex...windex away love! He windexed all our cabinets for so many years that I was shocked when I realized I needed to do them. Right now it's floors. I'll take what I can get. It may only be 2 square feet ACTUALLY clean, & 40 square feet slightly damp and streaky...but it's 2' I didn't have to do, and it took him half an hour. Hurrah!

- He helps cook at every meal...peeling potatoes, stirring, pouring, grating cheese, toasting, etc.

- Any messes he creates he gets to help clean up

- Intentionally "plugging him in" to some kind of electronic. www.starfall.com, or a movie, or whatever.

- Snack bar. He uses so much energy, that we've found if he can replace it as needed his temper is SOOOOOOOO much better. And then mine is, too!

Anyhow, the list could go on and on. AND really, already has.

Good luck

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J.C.

answers from Seattle on

Fours' are really tough sometimes- and with his baby sister becoming ''' a force to reckon with'' rather than a sleeping infant- he is likely trying really hard to keep your undivided attention-- and he's succeeding, isn't he???
Yes, dear heart - of course you are pooped--- be selfish- crank down on quiet time ( '' oh, dear - if you come out - I have to start the timer again'' -- that's what got my grandson to stop coming out of his room during quiet time--- and it's now working with my grandaughter, too-- ) There's a program called ''' The Nurtured Heart'' - you could look up on line or at the library - that really speaks to keeping you his advocate -- even when what you want is a nap for YOU!!!!

Blessings,
J.

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M.M.

answers from Anchorage on

HI! I just read a parenting book that might help. It's called Parenting the strong-willed child The clinically proven five-week program for parents of two to six year olds by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long. I just found it at our local library. I know most moms don't have time to read much But if you skip to the second half where they give the 5 week program and do it chapter by chapter (one week at a time). I found it helpful. What I found most helpful was how positive it was. It focuses on you enjoying time with your child and really addresses what you said about feeling like you're constantly correcting, redirecting, etc. The main skills they have you work on are attending (just enjoying time together) rewarding, ignoring, giving directions and using time outs. They have you work on each skill for a week before you go on to the next skill. Anyhow, it's a thought. It helped me.

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E.G.

answers from Seattle on

There are a few things that may help. I have some exercises that may be useful and will be glad to e-mail. Also, when you are having quiet time. Try massaging his feet and back very slowly while telling him a story. He may be searching for a purpose in his life also so you could use his energy for helping you around the house in positive ways but please use environmentally safe cleaning products when allowing any child to clean anything (they are better for you also--great book on this is the "Green Goes With Everything". This is a perfect opportunity to channel the energy and put it to use in learning also. Hope this helps, please let me know. E.

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A.D.

answers from Portland on

JL,
Been there, done that and still doing that. Our youngest son is the same way. When he was 3, we put him in a preschool near our home. He was there twice a week and I looked forward to those days. It gave me the opportunity to sit at home and veg out in front of the TV or take a nap. When he turned 4, he moved up to the next class and was there three times a week and the class was 1/2 hour longer. Had it not been for the preschool and his wonderful teacher (She raised 2 boys and almost done with her 2 girls) I would have gone nuts. the teacher kept telling me he was normal, but I just had a difficult time believing it. Now I see many boys who are 3,4&5 and they all act like the Energizer Bunny. It does get better, but for now, I suggest some type of daycare or preschool for a few hours a week to give you some down time.

Best of luck.

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M.L.

answers from Seattle on

I see this as part of my future! My daughter is under 2, but you described her perfectly except that she does still take 1 nap daily. One of the things that I've found helpful is to plan some sort of physical activity for her each day. Even if it's just going to the neighborhood park, it's still a chance for her to move! I usually let her know the order of things for the day since she can't tell time and this seems to help. I also remind her throughout the day if the active stuff is later in the day. For example, I told her this morning on the way to my workout class that after class we would have lunch and then she could have her nap. After she woke up, we would go to my doctor and then meet daddy and her friend to go swimming. She knows we're going swimming later today so even though the first half won't be super active, she has something to look forward to.

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M.J.

answers from Seattle on

JL,
I have this issue with my two and a half year old! I have two older children that were sooo mellow and calm and he is just the opposite! He starts when he wakes up and then he's done away with any kind of nap... it is exhausting. I thought that when our middle child started kindergarten and i was able to get more alone time with the youngest, that he would settle down, but he hasn't really... The one thing that I have noticed a difference in him is I was able to find him a preschool that he goes to once a week. It has helped him by hanging out with other kids his age and gives me a break!
with your son being four, I'm sure there's many programs you coul put him into. Also I have been getting a babysitter once a week to go have some alone time like tanning or even just a drive to the park by myself. it helps renew my energy to go back and deal with his energy:)
have you joined a local moms club? sometimes they have babysitting swaps and playgroups...
hope this helps and hang in there:)
~M.

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B.D.

answers from Seattle on

I hear ya on the hyperactivity. I have a wonderful and very energetic 5 yr old. He talks more than I can and definitely makes for a very long day. I've learned to find activities that encourage him to release his energy. I recently found out through my dr as well (because even though I work in the health care field, I assumed that sugar was partly to blame for his "upbeat" attitude) that sugar actually has no real affect on children and their behavior. It takes time to process and doesn't work like people assume. I had to learn to base his activities on the the time of day that he is most energetic. It's even harder now because I'm 9 wk preg and have absolutely NO energy to keep up with him. WOW! But, something that helps the both of us out is to take a walk to the park or just allow him to release all his pent up energy outside before lunch or dinner. Those are the times my son seems to peak. Hope this helps! *hug*

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C.C.

answers from Portland on

I agree with the swimming, and also about the massage and finding a particular activity for him that will discipline his activity. I have a yoga book for children, called Fly Like a Butterfly, and you might try some of their moves, because yoga stimulates glands that in turn help us feel calm or energized, and increase concentration. You'd want to read her tips, though, because you're supposed to let the child lead, and stop when they want to stop (but then start again later, or the next day at the same time).

I would also say cut out the sugar entirely. THough sugar in things is a treat, it has no nutritional value, makes us feel full so that we don't eat things that do have nutrition, and exacerbates conditions such as hyperactivity and irritability. I've never given my son anything with sugar in it, though he has had cookies once a week at his daycare. He loves blueberries just as much if not more, and we have some fig bars from the co-op that are sweetened with honey and he has those once in a while.

When I was a nanny, the parents cut sugar and dairy from their 3 year old's diet. She was a bright, active, happy little girl. If she went to a party or otherwise had sugar or dairy, it was like Jekyll/Hyde, and she was a nightmare.

Also any other activities that capture his attention enough that he's OK for 20 minutes at a time would give you a break. It must be really exhausting to have 2 little ones needing all that attention. I know one mom who gives her son damp rags, and he runs around wiping cabinets, floors, doors, whatever. So it doesn't have to be some commercial solution, it can just be little chores around the house. And then you can praise all his helping, instead of correction and giving consequences.

Best wishes!
Colleen

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T.B.

answers from Seattle on

Yes ma'am!!!! My son is 5 yrs old, and STILL that way. After doing a lot of research and speaking with others (doctors too), I realized he probably has what is called "Sensory Integration Dysfunction"...it is on the Autism Spectrum and is not too uncommon. I got the name of a specialist (can't get in until Sept!!, but at least it's set up.) that was recommended by a few people I've spoken with about my son and his "issues". I am so tired and frustrated, etc..., and reading your request for help just made my toes curl and my teeth grind. Let me tell you, I've been there, done that and still going. My son is in kindergarten, and it is causing problems, so I suggested (forced, I guess. hee hee) a meeting with the school psychologist and counselor as well as his teacher (the counselors work 3 different schools, so I'm at their mercy for an appt) to discuss things (he's not "formally" been diagnosed, so I'm kind of working in the dark and doing a lot of research, etc.) and try to come up with ideas. I've had to ask for help because I don't know where else to turn or what else to do. I feel helpless and of course, at fault. If I can help you at all, please feel free to contact me. I hope I've helped a little and/or that someone can give you advice or ideas that will help. Good luck. Join the club! Sincerely, T. [email protected]____.com

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I.G.

answers from Seattle on

Oh well, my baby is still smaller, but I have already discovered that this is one of the downsides of being an older first time mom (>30). In my twenties I was perfectly able to be on the go with my nieces all day and still go out to party afterwards... now it's 9 PM and I'm ready for bed!
How much sleep are you getting? 8 hrs +? If not, try to get to at least 8 hrs, for example by going to bed earlier. I have so much more energy AND patience since I have started foregoing my nightly TV shows and go to bed early.
Also make sure he gets enough exercise during the day.
If he isn't in preschool yet, maybe it's time to join one or a regular play group - it's amazing how much stimulation kids give to each other ... and having them chase each other will give you a chance to take a breath.

It is just a phase and he will eventually grow out of it!

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C.S.

answers from Medford on

Hi, I have 2 little boys, one turned 3 in Jan and one will be 2 in April. Does your son go to preschool yet? If not I would recommend it. Find a good one where they get to play outside a lot so he can run around with friends and burn off some of that energy! Maybe even a place with a toddler group so his sister could go a day or two (or a couple of half days) a week. Give you some quiet time to get stuff done around the house and run errands. I can be rough having 2 babies 15 months apart, but now I am glad I did because they entertain each other so well (most of the time). As your daughter gets a little older she will be able to play with her brother better too. Good luck!

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W.C.

answers from Seattle on

Good news it is a stage, but you do need some help in dealing with it.

I would suggest enrolling him in some organized sports activities--and I do mean more than one. Let some one else deal with his energy--a coach.

Soccer, t-ball, swimming, gymnastics. My preference would be soccer and t-ball because those kids have to really run and listen to the coach. They are thinking games. Also your husband can become involved. You can rest and just applaud from the side lines.

Also take him to story time at the library to find friends his age. Make play dates and go to the park. Let him run until he drops at the park. Only invite one friend at at time.

I am a former 1 teacher. I had Apolo Ohono in class one year. He was a very hyper kid. His dad took him swimming before class everyday, rollerskating after school, and mountain biking on Saturday and Sunday to try and drain some of his energy. And he still had energy to burn. That was at 5 years old.

I think you might try giving him some simple chores, like setting the table, at least bringing things to the table and with your help setting the table. Help with the laundry--perhaps sorting the clean laundry....Focus his intelligence on helping, doing things, and maybe you won't have less correcting of his behavior to do.

Just some suggestions.

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J.C.

answers from Anchorage on

I so feel for you! I have two Hyper little boys. All day long it is go go go! The only think that has helped me keep my sanity it that they now go to preschool for 3 hours a day 3 days a week. (They are 5 and 3). This way I get a little bit of down time, and some true quiet time.

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M.B.

answers from Seattle on

JL,

Excuse me while I stop laughing. My son is almost 5 1/2 and is the same way, only he'll get up between 5 and 7 am. I'm constantly yelling at him to stop running in the house, to stop climbing the walls etc. We have had him in swim lessons for about a year and a half now and on those days he sleeps great. We have tried other sports and activities, but he feels everything has to go his way and throws tantrums if it doesn't. So all we do now is swimming, until he's more mature.

You are not alone in the frustrations and exhaustion. My 2 year old daughter is the same as her big brother, and they usually take off in opposite directions. My son does listen better now than he did a year ago, but still has miles to go.

Supportively,
Melissa

If only there was a way to siphon off the excess energy of our kids for our use.

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M.T.

answers from Portland on

I feel your pain. My little girl is constantly on the go and full of energy, conversation and attitude. She's just 4 this month, and she's my only one, but I also get totaly drained and short-tempered as a results by the end of the day...and to think you have a 15 month old as well!

You've got great advice. First, don't think of him as hyper - don't let yourself label what is just great energy and spirit. But as all the moms below state, it's tough. I would second many of their ideas, especially:

1. Find a preschool and put him in 3 to 5 days a week. That will really help give you the break you need, time with your littler one, and give him the outlet for his energy in a productive, fun environment. My daughter goes to a school that offers a 2/3 day program in addition to the am sessions. It goes until 2:30 pm so the kids have lunch together and some more time together in the afternoon, including a second outdoor recess. She still has energy later in the day, but she has been napping better and it seems to take the edge off of her need for all the physical activity and makes the rest of the day more manageable for me.
2. Schedule playdates
3. Try organized pysical activities. We love gymnastics for our little active girl (they are coed classes, but if you prefer they have boys tumbling classes as well). We also love marshall arts for kids. Teaches respect for self and other, discipline, etc. Great stuff and tons of fun!!
4. Take him to places like Out of This World (Hillsboro)that are convenient for you.

Hope that helps!

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J.V.

answers from Seattle on

I totally feel your pain. I have 6 children 18 down to almost 4 yr old boy/girl twins. My boy twin is exactly the same way. to the extent that when I was reading your post I thought it was my child. He is by far the worst of all my children were at his age. (they are all boys except for my girl twin). I don't have any advice other than try to keep him occupied in things he is interested in. this seems to help me. other than that just remember, this too shall pass. but it will get worse before kindergarten. I am also totally exausted by the end of the day with no patience left and I am 44 and too old for this I think. LOL. good luck and if you find anything that works well let me know. J.

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J.W.

answers from Seattle on

If we could only bottle up that excess energy and use it for us!!! Your little boy is normal. You have a 15mo old daughter, that in comparison, is cooperative, takes her naps and conforms to a schedule. Wait another year and she'll be just like your son is now. So what do you do? Keep your daughter on her schedule for now. When she's down for a nap, this time for one on one time for you and your son. Quiet activities, like reading a book, rocking, telling him stories, etc. If you don't say the dreaded 'nap' word, he will relax and re-charge his batteries and your's. You can show him on the clock when quiet time will be, stick to it. Realize that his body's needs are changing. He doesn't need 14-16 hours of sleep a day. Not necessary any more. closer to 10-12, and as he gets older and closer to school it will be 10 hours, even for a 1st grader. As your daughter gets older, adopt the quiet time for her as well. There maybe some days when you just lay down on your bed with him, reading a book and he goes to sleep, you might as well. Bed time should be between 7-8 pm at this age. Quiet time at least 30 minutes before then, so he's winding down. No tickle fests or roughhousing with Dad. Even bath time can be too rambuncious, if he's hyper kid you want him to be winding down.

You just happen to have two kids that are on different schedules and you're caught in-between. It will pass. Just be glad that you don't have the 6 kids between the ages of 1 and 7 like the lady on tv, coupled with the 8 more she'll be bringing home sooner than later. She will have no life to share with those babies!!!

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