There are many ways to calm a hyperactive child. Sometimes, though, hyperactivity might just be a developmentally appropriate level of emotional regulation (Piaget Stages of Development). In other words, your child might not be able to calm herself down easily, once upset, or she might not be able to easily switch from being loud and over excited to being able to play quietly. This can be disconcerting for parents, because you feel overstimulated, distracted and out of control yourself.
Before You Focus on How to Calm a Hyperactive Child, Start by Calming Yourself
The first thing that you can do is to calm yourself. Sometimes your overactive or hyperactive child’s behavior is completely appropriate and it is YOU that is experiencing the greatest amount of dis-regulation or feelings of being out of control. Be careful of raising your voice or using facial expressions that suggest anger or frustration. Your child may be very sensitive to your feelings and your efforts to take charge of the situation may do much more harm than good.
The Role of Stress Hormones and an Overactive Child
When your child gets stressed or scared or anxious, her body may produce higher levels of cortisol, a naturally occurring steroid hormone that can weaken the immune system and interfere with learning and memory. This might occur, for example, when a parent leaves an infant to cry herself to sleep. This hormone response is part of the body’s natural fight or flight system. From the perspective of a baby or young child, abandonment or anxiety might be felt as life or death fears.
Don’t Worry about the Opinions of Other Adults
Often, parents overreact to their child’s behavior because of feelings of judgement or embarrassment about the opinions of other adults. Remember that you get to parent your child the way that you want and you know your child best. Don’t let the opinions or comments of other parents cause you to get frustrated.
How to Calm a Hyperactive Child
Now that you’ve taken care of yourself, the best way to calm a hyperactive child is to create a calming environment for your child. Kids often use external objects like a soft pillow or familiar stuffed animal or doll to put them at ease.
Touch and closeness are the most important things that you can provide. Remember you were your child’s first and most-important source of comfort. Start with a hug and speaking to your child in a soft voice.
Change the child’s sensory experience by playing soft music or using a warm washrag to wash their face or hands. The changes in sensory experience can help to reduce the child’s anxiety and help them adjust to a different and calmer perspective.
How Blue Lights and Computer Screens Affect Your Child’s Pineal Gland and make it Difficult to Calm a Hyperactive Child
Turn off ipads, computers and televisions to calm a hyperactive child. The bright lights and flickering images can be overstimulating and keep your child from calming down or falling to sleep. The blue light from screen images is particularly harmful to teenagers or those that are adjusting to a sleep schedule or those children who are difficult to wake before school.
The way that blue light affects the brain of your child is by turning off the normal function of the pineal gland, a pea sized organ located inside the brain that releases melatonin before you go to sleep. The bright light tricks your brain into believing that it is still daytime.
You can add melatonin to your child’s supplements, but do so only with the advice of your pediatrician and note that a supplement is a commercially-developed supplement, which might be different than the natural melatonin that our bodies create naturally.
Take Your Child Outside to Calm an Overactive Child
Maybe your child is going stir crazy being inside? Physical activity is a great way to release energy from physical activity and make it easier to calm down and get to bed early. This is more prevalent in winter months when it’s cold and dark outside.
Talk To Your Doctor about How to Calm a Hyperactive Child
There are chemical imbalances and other issues that might be affecting your child. Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor and find out what is natural and what might need some minor intervention. Your doctor should talk with you to understand your child’s environment, diet and to evaluate your child for other conditions.