How to treat hyperactivity in your child

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Always in great shape, hyperactive children find it difficult to stay in place and often put their parents’ patience to the test. How can a child adapt to his/her daily life? How can I make it easier for them to learn? How to react without getting angry at some of their behaviors?

Once the diagnosis of hyperactivity disorder has been made, parents are often relieved, accompanied by specialists, and then work on adapting. For the child to get better, an appropriate environment and lifestyle must be created. But at home, what does the child need?

To give them a calm living environment:

The child suffers the full brunt of all the distractions that come her/his way. In order not to overexert them and to help them concentrate on daily tasks, multiple demands are avoided. Balloons and noisy toys are put away and the television is turned off.

Should video games be eliminated? For Dr. Nathalie Franc, a child psychiatrist and author of L’hyperactivité chez L’Enfant, 100 questions/réponses (ed. Ellipses), it all depends on the child and his or her ability to manage frustration: “These games are part of their world, and it can be useful to confront them,” she stresses. But if the interruption is too difficult, they are removed. “As much as possible, we try to avoid yelling and arguing between parents or with other siblings. In the bedroom, you clean up regularly by involving your child.

Adapt your schedule to your needs:

Anything that fits helps the child, as long as it takes into account his or her specificities. Schedules are set for getting up, going to bed, and eating.

To keep some time for oneself, the specialist advises leaving the child in his/her room one hour before their natural sleep time, for example at 8:30 p.m., with instructions to read or play softly. The child is put to bed at 9:00 p.m. and the lights are turned off at 9:30 p.m. This rule can be adapted for teenagers. It is the same for meals: we keep fixed schedules.

Because of their difficulty in concentrating, homework time lasts 1 hour rather than 15 minutes. The solution is to split it up. Every 10 or 20 minutes, a short break is given. There is no point in forcing your child to sit down while s/he learns their lesson: it is too difficult for them and counterproductive. “You also have to accept that sometimes they cannot finish their homework,” adds Dr. Bioulac. In this case, we warn and organize ourselves by asking the teacher for the homework for the week.

Explain the rules clearly:

The child forgets their notebooks, runs down the stairs, leaves their things lying around… all behaviors that annoy, but the child constantly reproduces without meaning to. Even if it doesn’t bear fruit right away, things must be repeated, with kindness, in a calm place, and at their level.

Carefulness should be taken to explain one instruction at a time, using positive formulations rather than “Don’t do this”. Lecturing him is useless! It is better to tell him that you understand his difficulty.

The use of checklists or visual aids, for a child under 10 years old, can help him or her with everyday tasks. This involves sticking pictograms in key places. They attract his attention and remind him of specific behaviors, such as closing the toothpaste with the cap or flushing the toilet.

hyperactivity disorder
Photo by Avi Waxman on Unsplash

Reward rather than punish:

Anger and punishment are ineffective and harmful to the child whose self-esteem is already weakened. “They may become discouraged,” says Dr. Franc. The best way to help them progress is to focus on the positive and ignore failures.

Did my kid forget to write down his homework for the next day? It doesn’t matter, we tell the school and anticipate the next time. On the other hand, if the homework is graded, we take the time to tell him bravo, as in the moments when he is calm. Rewarding good behavior reinforces his motivation, values him, and allows him to assimilate the tasks.

Two systems are generally recommended: small immediate rewards, such as reading a story or choosing a dessert, and a cumulative points table. The latter offers the possibility of earning benefits over a longer period, such as on weekends. It is not enough on its own, as the child has difficulty projecting himself, but it helps him to improve this ability as well. All the rules of daily life can be used to gain points. But if an instruction doesn’t work, then you have to let go.

Child hyperactivity: what behavior should parents adopt?

The major difficulty for parents whose child is hyperactive is to be on all fronts and excessively considerate. However, some simple rules can be applied, relieve some of the anxiety of anxious moms and dads.

–  remove from the child’s environment what arouses excessive excitement :

balls, very noisy games… “It is not necessary to constantly solicit him with new toys,” says Dr. Fondacci.S/he will find something to wake him up with.” A hyperactive child requires special attention:s/he should be allowed to explore while being supervised because s/he tends to put themselves in danger often. This sometimes leads to legitimate fatigue for the parents.

–  do not get angry :

“We must avoid getting angry as much as possible,” adds the psychotherapist. Because this increases the child’s excitement and is a form of power over the child”.

–  to take advantage of moments of lull without panicking:

Mothers must know how to be attentive to what gives their child a bit of calm and preserve these moments without intervening. “They sometimes tend to worry when their little one stops being restless as if the calm represents a break in their relationship.

–  impose limits, repeat them regularly and respect them every day without ever changing their mind:

Explain your choice if necessary. The hyperactive child can very quickly become disturbed and you will not help him if today you refuse his request, whereas yesterday you granted it. Be rigorous!

–  Congratulate your child :

When he has remained wise and has not broken any rules, it is important to tell him so that he knows that you have noticed or that he is aware of it himself.