If your toddler has bundles of energy and never sits still, don’t worry because expert help and coping strategies are at hand
Do you have an overactive toddler on your hands? If you're woken up at 5am every morning (and not by the alarm!), see havoc caused each dinnertime or feel you're eternally on the lookout for hazards as she races through the house at record speed, then you'll know having an overactive toddler can be hard work.
We know children come in all shapes and sizes, personalities and energy levels, but if you feel that your child needs to slow down, here’s how, with the help of parenting expert Dr Miriam Stoppard.
Are you green with envy when your friend boasts about her toddler sleeping until 7am, while your toddler beats the sunrise with her early morning wake-up calls? Maybe shift your expectations a little, says Miriam. “The person it’s ‘early’ for is the parent – to your tot there’s nothing abnormal about it.”
However, if you do revisit what you think is too early for them to rise and still struggle with 4am starts, there’s plenty you can do to encourage her to stay in bed a little longer.
Tips to slow her down
If other toddlers you know like to lie down for a mid-morning nap at 11am but your child is wide awake and still full of energy (with no signs of a nap anytime soon!) you’re bound to be at your wits end, but these tips can help.
If there's more food on the floor than in your child's mouth and if she likes to throw it around rather than eat it, mealtimes can be stressful for parents of unsettled eaters. However, the key is to remember that the transition from morning playtime, napping and mealtime isn’t always instant – or easy – for toddlers.
“There’s no reason why we should expect a small child to observe adult mealtime etiquette. It’s a lot to ask of such a small person,” says Miriam Stoppard.
If your toddler has been bouncing around the house all day and still won’t settle, this could means she’s heading into overtired territory. When this happens, a child’s brain is less likely to recognise when to chill out. The result? Lot’s of tears. “When a child won’t settle at the end of the day, she’s not used up enough energy during the day,” says Miriam.
If your child really won’t slow down for a second, it can feel like there’s a problem. Could it be ADHD?
“When a child’s behaviour is out of control and she doesn’t have the ability to turn-take or share, has trouble making friends, or flits from one activity to another, then we need to see if there might be a problem,” says Andrea Bilbow, chief executive of ADDISS, the National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service.
“However, ADHD is far more complex than just energetic behaviour,” explains Andrea.
“It’s about poor organisational skills, poor short-term memory and an inability to regulate emotion and behaviour.”
if a child is communicative and has the ability to concentrate, whether or not she chooses to, she’s unlikely to have ADHD.
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