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.
Activity Ideas for an Active Child
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.
1. 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!
2. 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.
3. 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!
4. 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.
If you found this article helpful, then check out these parenting articles.
Pamela @RedWhiteandGrew says
We have one child in this household–and he's a 10. Story time at the library–when he was much younger–was an exercise in frustration.
I dearly love that you framed this issue in such a positive way. As you know, too often we parents of "active alert" kids have to fend off negative labels and attitudes. Thanks!
The way I see it, if we can help them learn to channel their energy constructively and find meaningful work as adults, then there's a good chance their zest for life can make a real difference in the world. Energy-wise, they are uniquely situated for physically demanding jobs like firefighters, ER/trauma medical staff, social justice lawyers, and other occupations.
Amy @ Z is for Zel says
Is the yoga video geared more towards elementary kids or would it be good for toddlers too? (I have a 21 month old boy)
The Educators Spin On It says
I started using the Yoga kids DVD when my kids were a little under 2. We only did parts of it – maybe 20 minutes – at a time. I think it is suggested for 2-5 years old. It is really a sweet little set of videos where the instructor is not too intense, the graphics are cute, and the kids are learning and doing yoga moves at the same time. We checked a TON out from the library and my kids liked this one the best, so I ordered the set of 3. Hope this helps =)
The Educators Spin On It says
Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a sweet comment! When I was pregnant with #2 people would say, this one will be calmer. HE is just as active, which works out well because this way I've had some experience. No doubt that #3 (still a bun in the oven) will be a mover and shaker as well =) I agree that there is a good chance their "zest for life" will make a difference in the world! They really are amazing and wonderful kids!!!
I definitely need to try the yoga videos! Both my girls are super active kids (my oldest is probably an 8 but she used to be a 10! Thank goodness she's calmed a little since her sister was born, who is probably a 7, herself). We definitely play outside a lot (which is hard in 110 degree weather). We also have to run around the house playing hide and seek and chase and all that. I need to start working on setting up a dialogue about when we need to be calmer (eventually they will have to sit still in school after all!). Thanks for this article! (Oh, and everyone told me number 2 would be calmer…yeah, no luck!)
The Educators Spin On It says
I can relate to the heat. We are in the South and if it is not hot and muggy, then it is raining! Much of our outside time in the summer is before 9:00 in the morning! I have thought about one of those tiny trampolines with the handles for inside on those days when we really need it!
Jennifer Fischer says
My toddler is also very active and counting has worked wonders for helping him calm down. Sometimes, he even recognizes the need himself and will say "I count, Mommy" when he needs to calm down or he'll ask me to count and take deep breaths, exhaling after I say each number.
This is great! My 4yr old son is a ten, and has been from day one- not exaggerating. But he’s in K4 at a school and they are trying to figure out how to deal with his energy. Things like standing in a line are tough because he never stops moving. It’s like he has to wiggle or jump or dance! Any tips for the classroom setting?