by Pauline Mulkerrins,a Chicago Original living right here in Johannesburg. She’s been living and working with children for the past 15 years, specializing in behavior issues. Currently, she runs a centre for children with language and cognitive delays and in her spare time, does as many crafts as humanly possible.

ADHD, ADD, diet, lack of stimulation and sometimes, well, just plain old personality are all ways to describe someone who is hyper active. Parents everywhere struggle with this behavior, not only to discipline but to understand it. A person with hyper activity means they have problems paying attention, sitting still, and keeping quiet. In most cases children with hyper active tendencies are also very clever, bright, emotional children who are very empathetic (have the ability to read emotions and feel them) and caring.

Parents, siblings, teachers and professionals may have issues with getting through daily activities, as they expect all children to “get with the program.” We have very busy lives, and it is important for everyone to get through the day with minimum stress. To help our children with hyper activity, here are a few tips to “set up for success!”

Anxiety is the biggest issue when it comes to hyper activity, as this lends to a feeling of loss of control for our clever children, and can cause issues with the most mundane day to day activities. Saying “DON’T DO THAT!” isn’t productive, and raises everyone’s stress levels, whereas saying “this is what I need you to do…” is much better BEFORE the fact. Routines take away any “guess work” children have to do and often makes them feel safer. Although they may be resistant at first, sticking with it not only teaches your child that you have control, but also teaches them what is next, and removes a lot of anxiety. In the morning, homework time, bed time, after school time, etc. are instances of when we can set up “routines.”

Visual schedules work very well for 3-5 year olds. Take a picture of each step of the morning routine, but make sure it’s only 4-5 steps long and create a visual “to do” list. Brushing teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, putting shoes and school bag on is a good example. When the child has finished an activity, give them a chance to see they are “done.” This not only lets them know what is expected and how to keep on track, but it also gives them a sense of accomplishment.

Sensory toys are good to keep busy hands going. Stress balls, or little maze or puzzle games can give kids something to “do.” In the car, in the shops, waiting for appointments or at restaurants. A lot of children can focus and calm themselves better when their hands are busy.

Children with hyper activity can benefit greatly from routines, goals, systems, etc. Parents who put these into place will find they have a happier child who feels safer and more in control. As with any family, discipline is going to be an issue, and 123 Magic! can help with that. Please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance, and our workshops will appear on the Jozikids calendar and newsletter. I’m here if you need me

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