If your child remains stuck to you like Velcro, if he is a blur running from one room to another, if the constant refrain you hear is “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy,” then you may have a hyper or high-demand child. Take a deep breath and know that there is nothing wrong with you or the child. Every little person is different. With some planning and care, you can turn your demanding kiddo into a self-sufficient adult.
Every child comes into this world with a different temperament. (REF. 1) Her personality develops as her temperament impacts the people around her and she learns behavior. If you can think of your child’s brain as a computer, temperament is the hardware, while personality is the programs that she uses. Parents can impact the personality and behavior, but have little control over temperament. The high-demand child comes into this world with different needs. (REF. 2) She may want to be held all the time, may not sleep very long or may prefer one person over another. She may show impatience or experience anxiety or anger when her needs aren’t met.
Help the child gain control by organizing his time and environment. (REF. 3) This means creating a schedule that everyone can live with. A schedule helps children know what to expect. It gives them a sense of control to know when activities change. In much the same way, a clean and organized environment helps the child keep track of possessions. Children learn the habit of putting things in the same place every day. This prevents anxiety and last-minute running around searching for books, shoes and other paraphernalia.
Physical activity is one way to help hyper children focus. (REF. 4) Hyper children just need more action than children with other temperaments. A 2012 University of Illinois Urbana study found that just 20 minutes of some type of aerobic exercise helped children calm down. It also improved their ability to focus on tasks and reduced negative behavior. Make sure that your schedule plans for some physical action every day. An added benefit of daily training is that your child’s self-esteem will improve as she learns new skills. (REF. 3)
Communication is key to both understanding and guiding your high-demand child. Make sure that when you talk to him, you have his attention. Make eye contact with him and speak clearly. If you have instructions, ask him to repeat them back to you to ensure that he fully understands. Remember that communication flows both ways. Encourage him to talk about his day and his feelings. Some hyper children may find it easier to talk while doing something simple and repetitive, such as washing dishes or folding socks.