I have 2 kids, ages 6 and 2 ½. Both of my kids are, as some call it, movers and shakers, others may use the label “highly active!” They are both intelligent, creative, thoughtful, and compassionate kids, but they are also very ACTIVE! The good news is that they will change the world someday =) and probably dance and shake their way there. I have taught kindergarten for multiple years and babysat many kids before then and I will admit that on an active scale of 0-10, my kids are probably at an 8.
Being active isn’t necessarily a bad thing (They definitely get enough exercise!) but it can be a challenge during those times when it is necessary for little ones to be a little more still and calm – think library story times, at restaurants, going to school, when visiting a friends house, during church, a trip to the grocery store, while visiting an elderly person, before bed and the list goes on and on and on.
So what do you do if you have a highly active kid?
Let the ENERGY out!
My best parenting advice is to provide opportunities for being active in a positive way. Here are some things we do to let our kids be active.
- Send the kids outside. Many mornings, my 5 year old will swing for 15 minutes right after breakfast. This helps her move and refocus right away in the morning. We spent a minimum of two hours outside every day, more like 4-6 hours on good weather days. Yes, my kids literally swing from trees!
- Walk or ride bike to places that are close by. This not only is great exercise for the kids, but you as well AND it saves $ on gas. We walk to school 75% of the mornings.
- Enroll in a gymnastics or dance class. We have taken classes that teach the kids to focus their energy in a specific way. Dance classes like Zumbatomic, a Latin dance fitness class for kids, gets them jumping, shaking, and grooving to a beat for 30 minutes to an hour!
- Get to know your local parks and visit them often! We have both walking and playing parks. We try to stop at 2 playing parks (ones with a playground) and one nature or walking park each week. The kids walk 3-5 miles with us and enjoy it!
Channel the ENERGY
Although it is great to let the ENERGY out, it is just as important to teach being able to control or channel the energy. This is much harder for both of my kids and we continue to work on this daily.
- Verbalize the change in energy. What I mean by this, is explain transitions. After running at the playground and before getting in the car, I may say, “We were very active and silly on the playground, but now we are going to get into the car and we need to calm our bodies down. What is one way we can do this?”
- Teach ways to channel the energy. Not every strategy will work every time. It is important for your kids to have a bunch of different ways that they can do this.
- Visual imagery – imagine a calm place, close your eyes and picture a clear blue sky with white fluffy clouds, green grass for as far as you can see and the sound of a little river.
- Counting backwards from 10 (20 if they need more time)
- Taking 3 deep breaths
- Using a “hook up” to destress and focus. For a short description of this activity and others, here is an easy to read article.
- Introduce and practice Yoga with children. My 6 year old had the opportunity to do Yoga daily at school and really improved with breathing and postures for calming herself. If your school doesn’t offer this, there are some books and videos for kids. I recommend using your local library as a resource to “try before you buy” as some of the videos we have watched were more effective than others. Here are some we have used and enjoyed in the past.
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