January 09, 2017

Handling hyperactive toddler

Do you have a hyperactive toddler? Is your child being aggressive in his behaviour? Is aggression common in young children? How do parents deal with aggression in children?

Children have a WHOLE LOT of energy within them and have NIL knowledge about what they could use the immense energy for, how they could engage themselves and learn something from it.

Who else would guide them other than parents? Yes, it is again the parents' responsibility to guide their child, nurture her with love and show ways on how she could engage her enthusiastic and explorable self. If not provided with any creative activity or something new to be explored upon, children tend to expel all their energy in some or the other way which is most of the times destructive in nature - jumping on bed, hopping on cushions/sofa sets, running around wild all over the house, swinging legs in air, pulling things down and many more. Why do children do all this? Because, they do not know how to effectively use their time and energy, they do not know that they are infinitely many things in the world and they can learn starting with simple things, as simple as, punching holes on a sheet of paper, cutting soft fruit like banana with safe knife, filling the water bottles. They do not even know the existence of most of our daily utility objects. Overall, all that kids want, is to explore the world around them and for this, parent needs to spend time and effectively engage the child all the while. 

When a trace of aggression is observed in your child, first thing you do, is DO NOT panic. 
Do not yell. Do not open your eyes wide. Gently take your child towards you and ask her what she would want to do and offer her some choices as she won't be able to talk her mind out at that instant. 
Spending ample amount of time by not only engaging her with various activities but also talking lovingly about various things, sharing stories, sharing laughs would suffice a toddler who is hungry of affection and lovable moments.

Internally, analyse what situation your child might have gone through that she reacted aggressively? was she hurt by someone's words? Didn't she like the crowdy place? Was she not able to complete her play successfully? Was she expecting something that didn't happen then?

Try to learn about your young child, connect to your child. sync in your thoughts with her feelings and you would be able to decode the reason behind every action coming from your child.

If you think handling one child seemed challenging, teaching the elder child to control her actions towards her sibling seems to go out of your head.

It is all cool with one kid. all my time was entirely spent with her, talking, telling stories or providing some activity. And then, there came the challenge of engaging her while nursing the newborn. It was challenging for her too to adjust to the new phase. Although, I had done ample preparation for her play time right from when I was pregnant, there kept occurring situations when she doesn't know what to do with so much of active energy flowing within and tends to rely on physical means to expel her enthusiasm. The first thing I do is, analyse what was not going right and try to fill in the space. Most of the times, there was no trigger of any violence or anger from her surroundings. She simply has time, lot of energy and lack of knowledge of what she is capable of. This is what happens when children do not know how to put their resources to proper use:

I am running around cleaning the 2 month old's dirty pants and A pushes the swing(swings horizontally) with her full might that it hits the wall, vibrates and shifts its position. An having a terrifying face with hands held up is just about to cry when I come running towards her. 

An is in the other swing(swings vertically) and A just pulls it up to the highest she could and pushes down to the least level possible in a flash of a second by the moment I turn around to check on her.

I am changing An's undi, and by the time I move my head to the other side, I see An crying because A just pressed on her head.

So, why does a child want to hurt someone? Does she really 'want' to hurt? No, she doesn't know how it feels like when a person is hurt. Children lack empathy, they simply do not understand and do not follow your word when you say do not do that, do not hit, do not kick. If at all you raised your voice to control your hyper active toddler, not only did all your loud words just took their way to trash but also your child has started to lessen her respect towards you because all that she understood was that you shouted and not the reason behind your shout.

What can a parent do to nurture a hyperactive toddler?
As already mentioned, analyse the situation that your child had gone through and take corrective measures if the environment was one of the reasons. Do not immediately raise your voice saying 'No'. Instead, provide alternatives to what the child can do at that moment. If the parent simply keeps denying what the child is doing and not teaching what could be done, how would a child learn ways to handle their emotions?

Children want to see how we react to their actions, also, see if we react in the same way every time. The very reaction of you running towards the child to stop her triggers her to do the same thing repeatedly. For us, it is hurtful. For them, it is funny, funny to see our terrified facial expression.

What can the parent do?
First, stay calm. Hold the child's hand and move aside gently. Keep saying 'it hurts', 'it hurts', 'you could tell me what you wanted to do', 'can we do it gently this way?' in various voice modulations. Quickly think of some play that you can engage her with. Most of the times, it is a success. But the point is, such incidents keep coming back.

There were times, when I did show my overwhelming stress on my face and the next thing I observed is my child picking up my emotions for which I had head full of regrets. That is when I got back to my base and kept reminding myself of how I should respond to my child rather that quickly react.
Whatever your reaction is - calm or anger, the child keeps going back to the mischief. That is when I was thinking if my positive parenting is really bringing in any calmness among the three of us. Then, I noticed that though the change is not immediate, it is inevitable. Most importantly, my child is not picking up the negative emotions, hence not herself showing any anger towards her sibling. This was most important to me. I always have the thought that she would talk/engage her sibling in the same way I would with A. Hence, my reaction to A was important to maintain harmony between siblings. And I do see lot of loving words coming out from A when shes talking to her sibling. Point checked.

Next, the more calm I am, the more A provokes me by doing some mischief. The same would have been true if the parent was violent too. What I eventually notice is that, after a while, she calms down, she finds ways to engage herself or listens to me to what I say and offer something for play.

In the positive response scenario, journey as well as the ending is happy. In the parent-turning-violent (yelling,showing anger) scenario, journey and the ending would be happy only for the ego, not for our conscious self. All the negative emotions piled up turn to mental stress and next as physical pains. That is how the complaints start flowing from parents about how stressful parenting is, how much irritating children are and how hard a headache they give the parent. If you analyse the sequence in any situation, it can be understood that, all physical pain starts from the ego when you immediately want to react just because you were hurt and not think about why it had actually happened. It is important to understand and do what is ultimately right for us and everyone.

Start the day with love and your day is filled with love. The day I prepare myself by saying 'let's learn something from the challenges I face today', I am mentally set calm, respond wisely to my child's actions, learn more about her and her day(in school) from her behaviour and teach her how she can engage herself and effectively use her resources - time and energy.

Parents today easily understand what a child's favourite rhyme is or her favourite candy is but do not understand what she actually needs when there is a meltdown. You would be easily able to understand the reason why she is hyper, yelling or throwing things or being irritable unable to communicate only when you establish that soul-to-soul connect with your child. It happens when you realise that parenting is not just satisfying all physical needs but understanding your child's emotions as well. It does not happen when you keep handing down the smart phone whenever your child is upset. You should make an attempt to understand what made her upset, hug her, talk to her, tell her she could try telling you what happened. There are many things you could talk about and share to satisfy a child's emotional needs.

Tantrums are being controlled by offering gadgets. What the child needs and is most likely lacking in her relationship with parent is warmth and comfort. Spend personal time with your child and share your positive emotions.

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