So many moms I know have said that they thought their children were energetic… until they meet my son. My boy hasn’t stopped bouncing, running, jumping, wiggling, building, and making noise since God blessed us with an Active Child over four years ago.
He has two younger sisters as well, but they do not have the same larger-than-life personality. People say, “You must be exhausted!” The truth is, there are some days when bedtime cannot come soon enough. However, I have learned what works and what doesn’t with him. Every child is different, but these tips have allowed me to embrace his energy without becoming overwhelmed and exhausted myself.
I don’t want my son to lose his energy and enthusiasm for life as he grows up. He might lose exactly that if all I ever do is tell him to stop, be quiet, sit still, etc. I don’t want him to be a crazy lunatic, of course, but he’s not usually being bad, just energetic. Discipline is obviously necessary and a crucial part of parenting, but constantly nagging him to quit this or that would crush his spirit and steal his enthusiasm over time.
Most of the time, he really just wants me to share that enthusiasm with him! So, instead of selfishly quashing that joy, I use these tips to help direct his energy in a way that allows him to be himself without completely draining my own energy supply. I need to conserve what I have left, especially with a newborn in the house right now!
Tips for Raising Very Active Children
Remember, your energetic child is not necessarily being bad, just energetic! The trick is to channel that energy and get them to burn as much as possible in positive, productive ways. My son was a bit rambunctious when he was littler, but I see his energy and big personality becoming more and more of a blessing as he grows, develops, and matures.
Incorporate exercise time into each day. Whether it be actual exercise activities or simply active games, exercise is so important for them. It helps all of us to release stress and burn energy. Not to mention, it is an important health habit to form early in life. HERE are some great, unique ideas for burning energy inside the house when weather does not permit the kids to go outdoors.
This could be a post all on its own, but people often rise to the challenge of the standards and expectations placed on them! Show your young child that you trust them with little responsibilities (such as taking care of garden plants or helping with the family pets), and odds are that they will be excited about those “jobs,” feel like an important part of the family, and beam with confidence when you express that you are proud of them. They will burn energy, and your house will be cleaner!
Natural consequences teach great lessons as well, especially if they are ever NOT successful with a responsibility (i.e. a plant dies if it is not watered regularly), so either way, they are better for it. Of course, the key is to make sure that they are supervised and given age-appropriate tasks. This is the time to allow consequences to do the teaching while you can control them, and they are not life-threatening!
Busy Bags and Crafts
Rather than leaving things to chance and the possibility of idle hands, keep a collection of busy bags, easy crafts, etc. on hand that your child can play with and use their hands to create and build things with.
Get your child involved in an active, hands-on hobby or sport. I am not advocating a family putting sports first and becoming so busy that they never have dinner together, but these types of activities can burn energy and help with cognitive and physical development in younger children. They oftentimes teach discipline and teamwork as well as an added bonus!
This may seem obvious, but do not allow your child to watch too much television. I have noticed that my son does not obey as well and is more antsy if he watches too much tv, so we keep shows short and to a minimum.
Give your child choices as often as possible when both choices are appropriate and suit both your needs and the needs of your child. I know that choices really help with my son because he is very independent, and they allow him to feel independent while accepting my parental influence with a cheerful heart.
There are times when choices are not an option, but when those situations arise, his excess energy does not become an enemy that I enter into a combat zone with because he has previously been able to make some small decisions himself. I do not support bribing or manipulating children, but rather setting them up for success.
Get Active Kids Outdoors and Dirty
Get those kids outdoors! Not every kid likes to get dirty, but allow (and even encourage!) them to get messy every once in awhile. Life is too short! Digging in the dirt and exploring are great ways to burn energy and develop physical and cognitive skills.
Of course, your child should ask permission first and probably go outside, but if they don’t, be sure to get the camera out quietly before dealing with the situation! It will be much funnier a few years later…
Even better, get outdoors and be active as a family! It is important to model what we want our children to value once they become adults.
There is a time for spontaneity, and kids do need to learn to be flexible. However, they thrive when they have routines as well, especially when you are dealing with a ball of energy. We have a bedtime routine that the kids go through once we say that it is bedtime. There is no battle, and they are not allowed to be “crazy” because it is time to calm down and prepare for family prayer time and going to sleep afterward.
Short Bits of School
Again, this could be a post all on its own, but part of the reason why so many children are diagnosed with ADHD today is because of unreasonable expectations. You cannot take an overly energetic young child and expect them to sit still and pay attention for 6+ hours a day almost straight. I can’t imagine having to do that myself!
So for you homeschoolers out there, make sure that you have short spurts of school throughout the day with active activities and play in between. (Routine plays a role in this as well.)
This is also a tip for homeschoolers. Whenever possible, incorporate movement and hands-on activities into your lessons. Your child will love it and pay attention for a longer amount of time. He or she will probably retain the information better anyway!
One-on-One Time for an Active Child
I have noticed that when my husband or I make sure to consistently spend quality one-on-one time with our son, his behavior is better on average. He craves it! If he doesn’t get it for some time, his excess energy and behavior seem to get worse. So, date night is important for both your spouse and your child!
Again, this is probably another more obvious one, but avoid feeding your child excess sugar and processed foods. We really are what we eat, and sugar is just empty calories and does not set your child up for success when it comes to their behavior and activity levels.
This goes right along with children knowing what is expected of them. It is important that children, especially a very energetic child, know their limits and what consequences will result from their actions. A child should not be surprised by discipline they receive if their parents have a consistent discipline system in effect in their home.
Visual, Hands-On Reward System
This may not work for everyone, but my son does really well when he can see the fruits of his behavior visually and use his hands to manipulate consequences. Check out Janine’s simple, hands-on reward system HERE! She also describes the popsicle stick reward system that we personally use HERE.
Let your energetic child be the superhero who saves your family from the bad guys or the firefighter putting out huge “fires” or the princess dancing for her king. Join in on the fun when you can!
One good thing is that because Superman works so hard, he sleeps hard, too…
An Active Child Can Be a Big Helper
Let them be your big helper, even if what you are doing takes longer. At this age, they want to be just like you! Enjoy it! These memories will be the ones they do not forget, and these times have the same affect on their energy level and behavior as those one-on-one date nights. Plus, they learn how to do whatever you are doing!
My boy is becoming a polite, respectful young man with such a positive, upbeat outlook on life, and I pray that he never loses his energetic enthusiasm. I know and pray that the Lord will use it to further His kingdom!
So, within reason, embrace your child’s energy and allow them to be “that” kid who jumps off fire hydrants, rides a bike wearing a motorcycle helmet, runs around with the goats at your uncle’s farm, and treats the famous FAO Schwarz piano in NYC like a slip and slide while the rest of the kids are playing it normally… One day, you will miss these times!
I hope some of these tips will leave you a little less overwhelmed and help with your energetic little ones. Please comment below with any tips that have helped you that are not mentioned in this list! Let us know how these tips work in your home as well.