Grandparenting Tips – What to Do When Your Grandkids Have Too Much Energy
Do you have a grandchild who is always on the go, so much so that you are becoming frazzled trying to keep up? If so, don’t be too hasty blaming your age. The problem could be primarily not with you, but with your grandchild.
The good news is that hyperactivity, frequently accompanied by another behavior disorder called attention deficit, is a treatable condition. But first, you need to know more about what the broad spectrum of behavior known as attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder (ADHD) entails and how to recognize it.
Please remember that nothing in this article should be considered medical advice. Every situation is different, so, please consult your doctor if you are concerned about your grandchild’s hyperactivity.
What is ADHD?
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a widely written about, but often misunderstood, chronic condition with varied symptoms. ADHD is far more common than many people realize; millions of children may be affected by it.
Most children diagnosed with ADHD exhibit a combination of both inattention and hyperactive, impulsive behavior. However, many children have more pronounced symptoms in one category. The signs and symptoms of ADHD typically become apparent in the course of activities requiring focused mental effort.
Usually the symptoms appear before age 7, but in some cases, they can start in infancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are the signs and symptoms of the hyperactive, impulsive behavior component of the disorder.
- Frequent fidgeting or squirming
- Frequent getting up from one’s seat in class or other situations where being seated is expected
- Excessive running or climbing when not appropriate
- Difficulty playing quietly
- Always on the go
- Excessive talking
- Blurting out answers to questions before they are fully asked
- Difficulty waiting for their turn
- Frequent interrupting of other children’s conversations and games
Hyperactivity occurs in both boys and girls. However, boys tend to be more unruly and overtly disruptive, so their troublesome behavior is more conspicuous and more readily diagnosed.
Differential Diagnosis of ADHD
Of course, all children are prone to hyperactivity at one time or another. Especially, if they ingest a lot of sugary junk food like too much candy and soda pop, they might become overexcited and jittery. This is not ADHD. However, you should try to monitor your grandchild’s diet, at least while in your presence, and discourage unhealthy snacking. Of course, setting a good example, by keeping and serving healthy foods in your own home and eating sensibly yourself will help your grandchildren build good nutritional habits, too.
Children who display multiple forms of hyperactivity repeatedly and chronically should be professionally evaluated. A good place to start is with the children’s family doctor or pediatrician, who may, in turn, refer the child to a specialist.
Treatment of ADHD
Prescribed treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms, rather than curing the illness and typically includes psychotherapy and/or medication. Regular follow up visits with the prescribing doctor are also important.
Depending on the severity of symptoms, a special individualized education program (IEP) may be advisable.
Each case is different, so if you are concerned, talk to or have the parents talk to the child’s teacher and guidance counselor. You also have the right to request a formal evaluation to determine IEP eligibility.
If your grandchild is found eligible for special education services, there is a good chance that he or she can still remain in the same school and possibly even in the same classroom. The emphasis today is on mainstreaming, not isolating children with special needs, but helping them integrate better into the regular classroom setting and everyday social situations.
Dealing with your Hyperactive Grandchild
Dealing with a hyperactive child isn’t easy, but you can make your home a comfortable and child friendly, but also clean and orderly environment. An overload of stimulation, with toys and games haphazardly strewn all over the place, is no better than having nothing at all to do.
If any toys and games are broken or missing parts, or are too advanced for your grandchild, get them out of the way so they don’t become an unnecessary source of confusion and frustration. Patience on your part goes a long way as your grandchild may need to try several different activities before finally settling down on one.
Lastly, keep in mind that the special needs of a hyperactive child could be very taxing on the child’s parents. So anything you can do to help out, even if it’s only occasionally, not only makes you feel useful, but gives the parents a little respite, too. And, of course the child benefits immeasurably from having more quality time with Grandma or Grandpa. So it’s a win-win solution for everybody.
I would love to hear what you think of these ideas or if you have additional suggestions. What works with your grandchildren might work with others, so you are all invited and encouraged to share your experiences.
Do you have a hyperactive child in your family? What techniques have you used to make the situation more manageable? What other grandparenting tips would you offer to the other members of our community? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Consult a doctor before doing anything described in this article.
Watch my interview with Barbara Nathan for more tips on how to deal with hyperactive kids in your family.