1. Accept your child’s limitations.
Parents should not expect to eliminate the hyperactivity but just keep it under reasonable control. Hyperactivity is not intentional. Any undue criticism or attempts to change your child into a quiet child or “model child” will cause more harm than good. You must accept the fact that your child is intrinsically active and energetic and possibly always will be. Nothing is more helpful for the hyperactive child than having a tolerant, patient, low-key parent.
2. Provide outlets for the release of excess energy.
This energy can’t be bottled up and stored. These children need daily outside activities such as running, sports, or long walks. A fenced yard helps. In bad weather, your child needs a recreational room where he can do as he pleases without criticism. If no large room is available, a garage will sometimes suffice. Although the expression of hyperactivity is allowed in these ways, it should not be needlessly encouraged. Adults should not engender rough-housing with these children. Siblings should be forbidden to say “Chase me, chase me!” or to instigate other noisy play. Rewarding hyperactive behavior leads to its becoming your child s main style of interacting with people.
3. Keep the home existence organized.
Household routines help the hyperactive child accept order. Keep mealtimes, chores, and bedtimes as consistent as possible. Predictable responses by the parents to different daily events help the child become more predictable.
4. Try to avoid fatigue in these children.
When your child is exhausted, self-control often breaks down and the hyperactivity becomes extreme.
5. Avoid formal gatherings.
Settings where hyperactivity would be extremely inappropriate and embarrassing should be completely avoided. Examples of this would be church, restaurants, etc. Of lesser importance, the child can forego some trips to stores and supermarkets to reduce unnecessary friction between the child and parent. After the child develops adequate self-control at home, these activities can gradually be introduced.
6. Maintain firm discipline.
These children are unquestionably difficult to manage. They need more careful, planned discipline than the average child. Rules should be formulated mainly to prevent harm to the child or others. Aggressive behavior and manipulative behavior should be no more accepted in the hyperactive child than in the normal child. Unlike the expression of hyperactivity, aggressive behavior should be eliminated. Also, rules to prevent the destruction of important property should be in effect. Unnecessary rules should be avoided. These children tolerate fewer rules than the normal child. The family needs a few clear, important rules, with other rules added at the child s own pace. Parents must avoid being after the child all the time with negative comments like “Don t do this” and “Stop that.”
7. Enforce discipline with nonphysical punishment.
The family must have an “isolation room” or “time-out place” to back up their attempts to enforce rules, if a show of disapproval doesn t work. This room can be the child s bedroom. The child should be sent there to “shape up” and allowed out as soon as he has changed his behavior. Without an isolation room, overall success is unlikely. Physical punishment should be avoided in these children since we want to teach them to be less aggressive, rather than make aggression acceptable. These children need adult models of control and calmness.
8. Stretch your child’s attention span.
Rewarding nonhyperactive behavior is the key to preparing these children for school. Increased attention span and persistence with tasks can be taught to these children at home. The child can be shown pictures in a book; and, if he is attentive, he can be rewarded with praise and a hug. Next the parent can read stories to him. Coloring of pictures can be encouraged and rewarded. Games of increasing difficulty can gradually be taught to the child, starting with building blocks and progressing eventually to dominoes, card games, and dice games. Matching pictures is an excellent way to build a child s memory and concentration span. The child s toys should not be excessive in number, for this can accentuate his distractibility. They should also be ones that are safe and relatively unbreakable.
9. Buffer the child against any overreaction by neighbors.
If your child receives a reputation for being a “bad kid,” it is important that this doesn t carry over into his home life. At home the attitude that must prevail is that the child is a “good child with excess energy.” It is extremely important that the parents do not give up on this child. He must always feel accepted by his family. As long as he has acceptance, his self-esteem and self-confidence will survive.
10. Periodically get away from it all.
Parents must get away from the hyperactive child often enough to be able to tolerate him. Exposure to some of these children for 24 hours a day would make anyone a wreck. When the father comes home, he should try to look after the child and give his wife a deserved break. A babysitter two afternoons a week and an occasional evening out with her husband can salvage an exhausted mother. A preschool nursery or Head Start class is another option. Parents need a chance to rejuvenate themselves.
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