Overactive children

What constitutes an overactive child?

Generally we are talking about children who find it difficult to concentrate, preferring activity to concentration, being quick to react, and not thinking before they act. Of course, every child may do this from time to time, but it is the ones that do it all the time that need support with their behaviour.

Should I be looking for certain patterns of behaviour?

There are typical patterns of behaviour that may help you to understand what has led to your child’s difficulties, e.g.:

  • Some children, often boys, seem to feel that people only really notice them when they are naughty. When they are good no one seems to care.
  • Some children feel that they have to cheer their parents up by being lively and sometimes acting the clown. This may be a response they learned if their mother was depressed or low in spirits when they were small babies. These children may appear to be overactive.
  • Some children feel they are not as good as their sisters or brothers. They react badly to hearing themselves compared with other children.

Are boys likely to be more overactive than girls?

Boys and girls develop in different ways and tend to find themselves in difficulty at different ages. More boys than girls are likely to need help between the ages of 7 and 13. Small boys often try to get away from any problems they may have with their parents, their teachers, or themselves, by indulging in physical activity. They tend to have behaviour problems during their junior school days and when they start secondary school. At the same age girls may avoid problems by being good and working hard, but they are more likely than boys to seek help in adolescence.

What can I do to help my child?

It is often helpful to make a sort of list or diary about how your child has been, e.g. Monday morning calm or Tuesday afternoon angry after a hard maths lesson. This may identify certain patterns that can then be addressed. Parents, teachers, the family generally and the child themselves should be able to work together to see what is preventing the child from being able to focus, and to develop strategies for helping them to concentrate.