Parenting the High Energy Child

High energy children can be challenging. They are always busy and can sometimes be demanding. It may seem like they don’t listen or follow through with what you asked them. Below are some ideas for encouraging positive behavior and reducing family stress.

  • Children do best when they have a schedule. They like routine and function best when they know what to expect. Help your children establish a schedule so they know what is expected of them – even creating a daily routine chart that is posted on a wall can help children follow the rules of the house. They know when to do homework, when they will be having meals and when they have video or TV time. Be sure to tell your children if the routine is going to change for some reason.
  • Be clear with directions for behavior. Make sure that you have your child’s undivided attention when you ask them to do something. You want to be “eyeball to eyeball” even if it means stopping and asking your child to look at you. Be sure to verify that they understand what you are asking by clarifying, “What do you need to do?”
  • Make a list of house rules. This should also be posted in your home so that you and your children can refer to it. The children can even be involved in creating these rules. For example: Be Kind and then explain what this means. We eat dinner as a family at 6 pm and again explain what that means. Also make it clear what the consequence is for not following the house rules. Remember it is not the length of a consequence but the certainty that it will occur that changes behavior.
  • Catch them being good. The best reinforcement for good behavior is to catch your child in the middle of it. Be sure to point out that you noticed it and appreciate what they did. It is very obvious and easy to notice a misbehaving child. It takes more effort to “catch a child being good” but the reward for this is usually more positive behavior.
    Impulsive children may need more supervision. If you have a high energy, impulsive child they are much more likely to engage in inappropriate or dangerous behavior if they are not supervised closely.

  • Keep your child busy and get them out in fresh air. Children today are more likely to be indoors playing video games than outside running around or shooting baskets. Encourage physical activity on a daily basis. This allows your child to expend some of their bottled up energy and makes it more likely that they can behave calmly and appropriately in the house.

Parenting is one of the most difficult and most rewarding undertakings. If you invest your energy in helping children know family rules and expectations and allow them to engage in regular physical activity life will be easier. Remember though, children require frequent, consistent reminders of what is expected and positive reinforcement when they comply.