Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) In Kids
- Toddlers are inquisitive, excited, and hyperactive most of the time.
- Correctly channeling this hyperactive energy into some productive activities or hobbies is essential.
- Redirecting your child’s excess energy into some productive activities helps in building a solid foundation for their academic and extracurricular future.
- Having them play fun games or introducing them to sports and arts is a great way to redirect their energy.
Words cannot describe a mother's feeling when she sees her little one stand up by themselves! Pride, happiness, and excitement, to name a few! With this newfound ability, your toddler will tend to wander off on their own. Explore the world, if you will.
All this excitement and eagerness to explore dramatically increases their energy levels. While being a little high on energy is a good thing, in some kids this could translate to being hyperactive throughout the day. Being fussy about their meals, inability to stay still, or constantly running around the house are some of the habits you’ll frequently see in your toddler!
Such behavior is very often seen in kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD. Constant fidgeting and impulsive behaviors are hallmark indications of ADHD. Read on to know more about ADHD and the difference between a normally energetic child and a child with ADHD!
What is ADHD
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder or ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder where a person finds it difficult to pay attention, stay still, or control their impulsions. Symptoms of ADHD can be seen in children as young as 3 years.
Symptoms of ADHD
As mentioned before, children with ADHD portray a distinct pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsive behavior. However, such symptoms are also seen in kids with high energy levels.
Knowing about the symptoms of ADHD can help you differentiate between the two. Here are some symptoms of ADHD
- Has trouble paying attention to tasks or play activities
- Does not listen when spoken to directly
- Forgets to do daily activities
- Runs off when they are expected to be seated
- Gets distracted by random things easily
- Cannot wait their turn while playing with other children
- No control over their emotions and is prone to frequent temper tantrums
A highly energetic child is just hyperactive and can control their emotions and impulsions and wouldn’t show the symptoms mentioned above.
Diagnosis Of ADHD
With the varied symptoms of ADHD, any hyperactive or forgetful behavior can be misinterpreted as this neurobehavioral condition. Believe that your child has ADHD only when they’re diagnosed by a certified mental health professional.
Diagnosis for ADHD is done by referring to robust guidelines that are put in place by competent healthcare agencies. For example, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has laid down certain guidelines for diagnosing ADHD and they are as follows-
- Six or more symptoms of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity in children under the age of 16 years
- Symptoms are seen in two or more situations (such as at home or in the playground with friends and family)
- Symptoms seem to affect or interfere with their well-being
So, before you jump to any conclusions, contact your healthcare provider and discuss these symptoms with them.
Treatment Of ADHD
Unfortunately, ADHD has no cure. The only treatment out there is the management of symptoms. The usual approach to symptom control is therapy and medication (in severe cases).
Currently, there are no guidelines for the treatment of ADHD in toddlers.
However, experts do recommend behavioral therapy as an early management technique in toddlers.
Energy Management 101
Whether it is ADHD or a highly energetic kid, a productive channeling of this energy is required. An extremely energetic and exhausted mother is a recipe for disaster! Learn how to channel your little one’s energy into some productive activities.
Your child might often crib or throw tantrums when you try to sit them down and teach them the alphabet or vocabulary. They would rather run around or play hide and seek instead! Ever been overwhelmed by such a situation? Worry not, for there is a simple solution to this problem.
Alphabet hopscotch is a great productive activity to channel that excess energy and help them gain mastery over the English lexicon simultaneously! Here’s everything you need for alphabet hopscotch
- Chalk (if you are outdoors)
- Some tape and markers (if you are indoors)
Here’s how you can get your toddler to do the alphabet hopscotch.
- Draw the hopscotch grid on your driveway or the pavement.
- Now in each box write an alphabet.
- The alphabet written need not be in a specific order.
- Now, ask your child to stand at the starting box of the hopscotch grid
- Call out any random alphabet that you've written in the box and ask your little one to hop to that letter.
- Repeat this till all the letters have been called out.
How does this activity benefit my child, you ask? Research indicates that calling out letters or giving sound cues to children improved their phonological awareness and processing. Furthermore, several studies have shown that high alphabet knowledge is one of the best predictors of better reading abilities as toddlers grow.
Apart from this, all the jumping and hoping that your toddler will be doing during this activity aids in the development of stronger muscles, bones, and joints.
Are you a hoop head? Want to give your toddler that baller life early on? Then this activity is best for you. With the goodness of vocabulary and the fun of shooting basketballs, this game doubles as a great productive activity to channel your little one’s hyperactive energy! Read on to know more about the requirements of this fun game.
- A miniature basketball hoop (If you don't have a miniature hoop, you can create a makeshift one and tape it to your wall)
- A beach ball
Steps to play preposition hoops:
- Adjust the height of your miniature hoop to a suitable height
- Now ask your toddler to shoot the ball into the hoop
- After your child shoots his or her shot, ask them where the ball landed
- Ask them to answer the question and teach them the use of prepositions in their sentences
Prepositions are of utmost importance in vocabulary since it depicts the position of an object in space. Asking such questions will trigger the use of prepositions in your toddler's sentences.
All toddlers do develop fluent vocabulary and solid grammatical skills as they grow up, however, using old teaching techniques can lead to slow learning. Using such novel teaching methods can help them understand prepositions better by experiencing an object's position in space.
Furthermore, research has shown that children who ‘experienced’ the use of spatial prepositions were better able to remember words as compared to those who relied on traditional teaching methods.
Apart from this, shooting hoops is also a great way to channel your little one’s hyperactive energy. All the rush that your toddler feels from hurling that ball in the hoop in turn benefits their own health. Shooting hoops is known to build hand-eye coordination and contribute to the development of fine motor skills.
Dance to their tunes
Not quite literally, but putting on your toddler's favorite tunes and dancing along with them can be an extremely efficient way to channel their hyperactivity into productivity!
The dancing we’re talking about here is an unstructured dance form! Try not to enroll them in any classes just yet!
Dancing, apart from being a great form of exercise, also helps in the growth and development of your child. Wondering how? Dancing can improve your little one’s coordination and aid in the development of motor skills.
Furthermore, dancing also strengthens your toddler’s muscles, bones, and joints which help in their proper growth and development. Apart from this, frequently breaking into song also helps improve the bonding with your child and within your family
So, whenever your toddler throws a hissy fit turn on their favorite rhymes or songs and dance along with them for some fun family time.
Charity begins at home
Every parent dreams of giving their child good values and etiquette. We’ve all heard the saying ‘charity begins at home.’ The same applies in this situation. Start involving your toddlers in daily household chores.
Doing so will give your little one a sense of responsibility and help them mature emotionally. Obviously, you cannot expect your toddler to take out the trash or do the dishes. Here are some chores that are age-appropriate for your toddler:
- Allow them to organize their toys.
- Ask them to put their clothes in the laundry basket. Don’t clean up after them.
- Wipe the food or juice that they have spilled.
- Organize their books and magazines on the shelves.
Toddlers are more adept than you think. With a little encouragement, motivation, and practice, they can complete these household chores easily. Apart from learning about responsibility, doing such chores helps them be more organized and disciplined.
You may have to supervise them initially but doing such chores daily and repetitively will lead to habit formation in your child. A great way to channel your toddler's hyperactive energy with some positive discipline, don’t you think so too!
Take a dip in the pool
Does your toddler enjoy playing around in the water? If so, then swimming is one of the most productive hobbies you can encourage your child to get involved in. Swimming is a perfectly safe, effective, and productive activity to channel your little one’s hyperactive energy.
Apart from being a solution to your kid’s hyperactivity, swimming provides many long-term health benefits for your toddler’s growth and development.
Here are a few:
- Improved confidence: Research shows that children who started swimming at an early age had better self-esteem, were better at handling social situations, and developed self-control over their behavior
- Improved muscle strength and coordination: Swimming, of any style, is usually comprised of rhythmic and dynamic movements. Doing such movements repetitively will build muscle strength and improve coordination in your toddler
- Improves cognition: Apart from being an extremely beneficial sport for physical health, it also helps in the development of mental prowess. Studies show that swimming, in addition to motor skills, can aid in the development of cognitive abilities in children
Despite being a safe sport, swimming with toddlers does come with certain risks. Worry not, for these risks can be negated with proper precautions. Read on to know more about them!
- Don’t leave your child alone in the water. Always be within ‘touching distance’ of your child
- Use authorized pool floatation devices
- Make sure your child does not run around the pool
With these precautions in place, take your child to your nearest pool for some fun-filled family time!
Positive discipline techniques
All being said and done, the major challenge when it comes to channeling your kid’s energy is making them listen to you. Hyperactive children can be quite the handful when you try to get them to do something. You might be treated to some temper tantrums or obnoxious behavior.
Being forceful and getting angry in such situations will do more harm than good. What you need is an arsenal of parenting tricks to positively discipline your child.
Read on to equip yourself with such tips and tricks!
- Good ol’ redirection: The oldest trick in the book works best for early toddlers (1-2 years). If they start acting out reprimand them in a constructive manner (try to briefly explain why what they’re doing is wrong) and redirect them into a different activity
- Actions are louder than words: Sometimes words are not enough, especially for elder toddlers (2-3 years of age). Show them how to act instead. For eg if they have trouble waiting their turn in the playground. Wait with them and show how they should behave with other children
- Avoid time outs: During their formative years, toddlers can be overly attached to their parents. Putting them in a time-out just feeds the fear of abandonment.
- Constant supervision: Don’t let your toddler out of sight after you’ve redirected them or disciplined them
Even with the knowledge of all these techniques, parenting can be both physically and mentally challenging without experience. If it is your first time being a parent, try being patient and kind to yourself for a better experience.
Toddlers are inquisitive, excited, and hyperactive most of the time. Correctly channeling this hyperactive energy into some productive activities or hobbies is essential.
Why so, you ask? Redirecting your child’s excess energy into some productive activities helps in building a solid foundation for their academic and extracurricular future. Having them play fun games or introducing them to sports and arts is a great way to redirect their energy.
Try a few activities that we have enlisted in this article to help your child in his/her development and to make your own life as a parent easier!
Did you like our Article?
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Available from: NIH
- Symptoms and Diagnosis of ADHD. Available from: CDC
- What's to know about ADHD in toddlers? Available from: Medical News Today
- Piasta SB et al. Learning letter names and sounds: Effects of instruction, letter type, and phonological processing skill. Journal of experimental child psychology. 2010 Apr 1;105(4):324-44.
- Rohlfing KJ et al. Can 28-month-old children learn spatial prepositions robustly from pictures? Yes, when narrative input is provided. Frontiers in psychology. 2016 Jul 15;7:961.
- Hong Nguyen B et al. Swimming lessons for infants and toddlers. Paediatrics & Child Health. 2003 Feb 1;8(2):113-4.
- Borioni F et al. Effects of baby swimming on motor and cognitive development: a pilot trial. Perceptual and motor skills. 2022 Apr 26:00315125221090203.
- Effective discipline for children. Available from: NIH