Hyperactivity and Transitions

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Hyperactivity and Transition - Q&A

Tom and Julie Meekins

Here are some real life questions from moms and dads just like you. Perhaps these questions have occurred to you as well:

Q: I cannot completely change our diet right now, so what are one or two things that you would recommend we have or not have in our diet to get us started on the road to better nutrition?

A: The very first impulse to answer this question is to say, "Add in more fruits and vegetables and drink more water." If all of us made a conscious effort to do these simple things, our bodies would respond with much cheering. The next thing that comes to mind is to become a label reader. Things to eliminate: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, food additives and dyes. Our mode of operation and the advice we give to our clients regarding nutrition is this: the method of crowding out. The founder of our nutrition school, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal, has taught us that it is more effective to do the process of "crowding out". That means bring in more and more of the good stuff, buy less and less of the foods that have the high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, preservatives, food additives and dyes and eventually you will only have the good stuff to choose from. It worked for us. I think it will work for you, too.

Q: Where can I get ideas on how to help my child transition from one activity to another?

A: I just found this excellent source for free social story ideas.

Some of you may be asking, "What is a social story" and why would I need it? A social story puts the child in the middle of the story and helps them to construct new ways of thinking about their life. Transitions are hard for some children because they are very happy in their "status quo" and what I sometimes call "stuckness". It is a safe place for them. A change is a new environment. A new environment can be perceived as a non-safe place because it is unfamiliar and they cannot control all the events of the new environment. Social stories is a wonderful way to help the mind to be changed to accept the new environment.

Q: My son is so incredibly active. I cannot figure out how to calm him down. Any ideas?

We have SO many ideas but for the sake of time and space, we’ll share just a few:

  1. The hyperactivity could stem from what he is eating. Some children react strongly to even small amounts of food dyes, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial sugars. Eliminating these toxins usually make a huge difference for children. You may also want to greatly reduce sugar intake.
  2. Sometimes our children need a little help with sensory input to help the brain to know where the body is in time and space. a) We suggest deep hugs -- trunk to trunk - at least 8 a day. b) We also suggest that you get a bath glove and lightly rub all four limbs and the torso several times a day two to five minutes each time. These activities will address some sensory concerns. c) Another thing to consider are weighted blankets and weighted vests.
  3. Train him to sit and play quietly with the use of a timer.

Here’s an excerpt from our booklet:

Happy Moms - Peaceful Homes: 3 Tips to Survive Overactive Children

The first and very important step in this tip is to get a minute timer. The timer is your friend. If you have a child who is perpetually hyperactive, training them to sit quietly or play quietly will take dedication on your part BUT it is definitely doable. I have seen the “after” many times and it is glorious.

I suggest that you first determine what it is you want them to do. Do you want them to rest in their bedrooms? Do you want them to sit at a table and play quietly? Do you want them to sit quietly on the floor looking at books?

Once you determine what it is you want them to do and the location in which you want them to do it, you need to communicate it very clearly to your child.

For example, if you have a three year old who constantly crashes the block town, Lego city or meticulously set up doll house of his older brothers and sisters, your goal may be to have the three year playing quietly elsewhere. But, you are thinking, there is no way he is going to sit still that long. He can be taught with the timer and loving firmness from you. Trust me. It really can be done with even the most challenging child!

Let me step back a minute. The first step really is believing in the possibility of you being able to pull this off. Our own mindset is critically important in moving us and our children forward. I believe in you, Mom. You can do this. Think of me cheering on the sidelines as you take each action step. Consistency and persistent input takes patience but it is so worth it in the end when your child is happily playing quietly and your home is the peaceful haven you so desire.

Let’s get going: the first day you say to your child "I want you to sit here at the table and play with healthy homemade play dough for one minute. (Healthy because remember, I am also a health coach 🙂

Some children can do that one minute just fine. Some children won't last 30 seconds. Some children can sit for 3 minutes or 5 minutes. Start where they are.

Set the timer for the time you allot and instruct your child that they are not to move from the table until the timer goes off. Sometimes you will need to actually hold the child into the chair at the table for those 30 seconds. Make it a pleasant holding. The purpose is to communicate to the child that this is what we are doing right now; no other option – this is it. Once the timer goes off -- they get to go on their merry way. Increase the time by however much you think your child can reasonably handle. In the end you can create three to four times every day where your child is quietly playing for 20, 30 or even 45 minutes at a time so you can maintain your sanity and maybe even accomplish a task. How would that feel?

The principle here is that you set up times during the day when you want quiet. You are the driver in this car, not the child. You clearly communicate the expectation and follow through.

If you follow this principle over and over the child begins to "get it" -- that you mean business, that this is the matter-of-fact way that we are doing life now. Remember to keep it all as pleasant as possible. Everyone in the family will be happier and more peaceful. Peace is a good thing.

My clients are very used to hearing me say it is all about INPUT. You have to put the information into the brain in order for there to be output or what we sometimes call compliance. It doesn't just take one time for the INPUT either -- some kids need the information over and over before it gets cemented. It is worth the effort, however. It is worth the battle NOW so you and your child can reap benefits for years to come. I have the privilege of helping parents of even the most out-of-control children by coaching them in this method – of providing the needed input that ultimately results in the change of function for their child. The child is now able to sit calmly for longer and longer periods of time. It is life-changing for the whole family.

Remember -- we are here to support you in these kinds of concerns and many more. Be sure to stay tuned to our e-Zines (twice each month). Check out our monthly Webinars. We also have different levels of private coaching to focus on your particular family and individual child. If you would like more information about our private coaching, we invite you to a Get Acquainted Call. Here are all the details:

Also -- check out the products page of our website:

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