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Coping with an active child

                             

All young children are active, and it is normal for them to have lots of energy. A substantial proportion of children are overactive, and some (around 2%) genuinely do suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - what used to be known as hyperactivity.

However, a lot of children who are behaving in a difficult way and who have problems concentrating are not necessarily overactive, or may be suffering from a mild form of hyperactivity only. The challenge for parents and, sometimes, health professionals is to recognize the difference between “normal” behavior problems and ADHD symptoms, which require early treatment and management.

Below are some tips on managing an active child. If these tips or the other information in this section on dealing with difficult behavior don’t help, talk to your doctor.
  • Keep to a daily routine as much as you can. Routine can help if your child is restless or difficult to manage. It can also help you to stay calmer and cope better with the strain.

  • Make time to concentrate on your child. One way or another, your child may be demanding your attention for most of the day. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to say “no” to them. That will be easier to do, and easier for your child to accept, if there are certain times each day when you give them all their attention.

  • If possible, avoid difficult situations. For example, keep shopping trips short.

  • Try to get out every day. Go to a park or playground or another safe, open space-anywhere your child can run around and really burn off some energy.

  • Avoid giving your child cola drinks, tea and coffee. These all contain caffeine, which can make children jumpy. A lot of sugar can also have an adverse effect.

Set small goals. You could try to help your child to be still or controlled, or to concentrate, for a very short time, then gradually build up. You cannot transform your child’s behavior overnight.


                                       When everyday is a bad day

                           

There is no such thing as a “perfect” parent and even good parents have bad days. Most parents go through phases when one bad day seems to follow another. If you are tired or moody, or if your child is tired or moody, it can be hard to get on together and get through the day. You can end up arguing non-stop. Even the smallest thing can make you angry. If you go out to work, it’s especially disappointing when the short amount of time you have got to spend with your child is spoilt by arguments. Most children also go through patches of being difficult or awkward about certain things. Some of the most common are dressing, eating and going to bed at night. It can be a vicious circle. Knowing that they are making you cross and upset can make them behave even worse. And the more tense you get, the less able you are to cope, so they carry on behaving badly, and so on. Here are some ideas that might be able to help.

Stop. And start again……

If you are going through a bad patch, a change of routine or a change in the way you deal with things can be enough to stop the cycle of difficult behavior. Here are some ideas:
 
  • Change the timetable. An argument that always happens at a particular time may not happen at another. Ty to do the difficult things when your child is not tired, or hungry, or when they are most co-operative. For example, try dressing them after breakfast instead of before, or have lunch a bit earlier than you normally would.

  • Find things that your child enjoys, and do them together. It doesn’t have to be special or expensive. You could try going for a swim, to the library or just to play in the park. Let your child know that you are happy when they are happy. If you give them plenty of opportunities to see you smile, they will start to learn that a happy parent is more fun to be with than an angry one.

  • Ask yourself, does it really matter? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But having an argument or telling your child off about certain things can get to be a habit.

  • Say a sorry. When you lose your temper because you are tired or upset, apologise. You will both feel better for it.

  • Remember, all children are different. Some like sitting still and being quiet, while others want to spend every waking minute learning and exploring. If your child is into” everything, the best thing you can do is give them as many opportunities as possible to let off steam and explore safely.

  • Remember, the way you and your hubby behave has an effect on your child. Happy parents tend to have happy children.

  • Young children are still learning. Children under three cannot always understand and remember what they should and should not do. Even after this age, it’s hard for a child to remember instructions.

  • No one is perfect. You are not perfect and neither is your child! Don’t expect too much of yourselves

Look after yourself. Looking after young children can be exhausting, physically and emotionally. Having some time to yourself can help you to mange better. Try getting an early night or finding someone to talk to about how you are feeling.

                                                     Stress and anxiety

As a parent, you might think that childhood is always a happy and carefree time. But sometimes children do get stressed and feel anxious, and there many reasons why this can happen:
  • They’re being bullied at school. Feeling in danger every day can greatly affect a child’s state of mind. They may not be getting on with their friends. It’s natural to want to fit in, and falling out with friends can seem like a really important thing to a child. They may be anxious about moving house or school, or going back to school after the holidays. A family member, friend or even pet has died. Sometimes, children can blame themselves for these things.
     
  • Another reason child feel anxious is if their parents’ divorce or even just fight. When they see their parents arguing it can hurt a child’s sense of security and it can make them feel very alone or frightened. Some children worry about school work, tests or exams. It’s perfectly normal wanting your child to do their best, but some parents might not realise they’re putting too much pressure on them to achieve. If you send out the message that your child must do well in tests, it can create too much anxiety for them. It’s also important to be realistic about your child’s abilities.

  • As a parent, be careful what you say-even when you don’t think your child is listening to you. Sometimes, children overhear parents talking about money worries or problems they’re having at work and they start to feel anxious about these things themselves.
 
Warning signs that your child is stressed include: mood swings, trouble sleeping, nightmares, bedwetting, trouble doing schoolwork, stomach aches, headaches, preferring to spend time alone, overreacting to minor problems, starting new habits like thumb-sucking.

Make sure your child gets enough sleep and healthy food. Exercise can reduce stress, so encourage your child to exercise or take on a healthy habit like riding bike.

Your child will find it easier to cope with stress if you talk to them about what’s causing it. Tell them it’s normal to feel stressed now and again, but it’s also good to know how to relax and make yourself feel better when they’re upset. Make time for your child every day so they feel they can talk to you if anything’s worrying them. Look ahead to times when your child might worry, like going back to school after the holidays for example, and talk about the events well in advance.

Talk about it

It does help to talk to and spend time with other people, especially other parents. It is often true that only parents understand. You can chat with other parents on our toddler’s forum

 



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