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Hyperactive DD 3.8 - how can I help her relax?

(19 Posts)
Smize Thu 21-Aug-14 18:28:44

My DD lives life at 100mph from the moment she opens her eyes in the morning until she passes out exhausted at bedtime. I love that she is enthusiastic and throws herself into everything but her inability to ever chill out worries me.

As the day goes on she gets more and more excitable, running around, chatting non stop and struggles to sit still to eat her meals or even a snack. As she gets more tired she gets more manic. She dropped her daytime nap just before she turned 3. Bedtimes are becoming a nightmare with her running in and out of her room, shouting and carrying on before she eventually passes out - there's no gentle dropping off!

I make sure she gets lots of outdoor exercise every day, she goes to weekly dance and gym classes and is at nursery 5 afternoons a week. I try to help her to wind down by reading to her and snuggling on the sofa watching tv or a movie. This used to work but now she can't seem to focus, eg she will keep trying to flick ahead through a book instead of concentrating on the page I'm reading.

Her temper has also become worse in recent months - if she gets wound up there's no way back and she has huge meltdowns. Reward charts used to work but no more. I've tried the naughty step and sending her to her room but she won't stay - she will keep coming at me until she has a full on screaming meltdown and lashes out. 5 minutes later it's like nothing's happened and she seems genuinely perplexed that I'm cross.

Can anyone offer some constructive advice? I'm running out of ideas and exhausted (also have a 4 month old). Is she hyperactive or just badly behaved hmm?

dawnlight Thu 21-Aug-14 18:45:06

I have found routine to be key in keeping ds on track. Not too rigid, but meals/activities/rest times/tv/ free play and bedtime all roughly at the same time or for the same amounts of time. It helps if he knows what's next. He's 8 now, but a picture timetable was good when he was little.

I spent a lot of time 'teaching' him to play on his own, starting at 2mins and increasing it minute by minute. Mostly, this was with cars or lego.

Music has always stopped him in his tracks. Nursery rhymes when he was little; he likes bob Marley at the moment grin.

The main issue for us has been over stimulation. This gets him seriously hyper and stressed out. I know the signs and will take him out of a situation if I can see him winding up. Hopefully before meltdown, but this is not always possible. School is hard for him.

Fortunately he has always sat through a film, and at the moment (school hols) he is watching 1 a day. It's much needed time out for all of us.

Now he's older we're working on not interrupting, and volume levels (he's very loud).

Take one thing at a time and concentrate on that. If you're really not coping though, seek advice/support. Ds is my youngest, I can't imagine having a baby at the same time.

Good luck op, she sounds lovely. Lots of fun.

Smize Thu 21-Aug-14 18:55:14

Thanks dawn, that's helpful. I think a more structured daily routine might help. My dd loves music too so that's definitely food for thought. The loud voice and interrupting rings a bell - forever asking dd to use her inside voice or wait her turn to speak to no avail. She can also be quite repetitive and seems to get 'stuck' saying certain phrases over and over.

She is a sweetheart most of the time but the bad days are outweighing the good at the moment. I hope your little boy is getting the support he needs at school, sounds like you're doing all the right things at home. Can I ask if you've had any kind of medical diagnosis for his behaviour? Not sure if it's worth making appointment with gp.

dawnlight Thu 21-Aug-14 21:49:33

No, no diagnosis, but I haven't sought one. He is bright and achieves well academically without trying too hard. He has always behaved very well in school, almost too well. But comes out of school ready to pop. And often does. It's got easier for him each year and This year he has had a great teacher who has recognised for the first time how much effort it takes him to concentrate and behave.

Was your dd like this before the baby arrived?

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Thu 21-Aug-14 21:53:49

What is she eating. My cousins son is the same and same age His behaviour is wicked.

My cousin has found out that a lot of the shit- she was giving him was makng him climb the walls. But she has four kds and can't police what he is eating --excuse . He will easily sit up till 2am watching tv shock

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Thu 21-Aug-14 21:54:20

Too much crossing out there!

micah Thu 21-Aug-14 22:05:25

With mine the bedtime routine was key.

Long, warm bath, let her wind down and play with her bath toys. Warm towel, downstairs to watch night garden and dry off. Warm milk and up to bed, short story, cuddle and lights out.

Baths actually were my go to when she got too wound up or hyper, I found chucking her in a warm bath gave me 5 minutes break, and calmed her down.

I could never discipline her either. I just sort of distracted and ignored.

Try short films-Wallace and gromit for example...

MrsCosmopilite Thu 21-Aug-14 22:15:29

My DD (3.7) is very similar. Eats a healthy diet with limited sugar. From the moment her eyes open she's on full throttle. She is very curious, interested in everything and determined to do everything herself. She is a quick learner, speaks well and seems to be a fairly smart cookie. I think this is the problem - she is always processing. Even when she's tired she can't seem to calm down.

Overtiredness seems to make her more hyper - she runs round and round, spins herself on the spot 'til she falls over, chases the cat, climbs on the furniture and gets very upset/lashes out when wound up about silly things.

We have a reasonable routine. On non-nursery days we go out for long walks or go to the park, then have play indoors.
Nursery keeps her occupied two full days a week.
Evening meal is high protein, low carb whenever possible. We get her changed into PJ's, telly off, chat about our day, she has a story (read in a quiet voice) whilst she drinks her milk, and then it's bedtime.
Tonight she was awake, chatting away to herself, getting out of bed and running around for an hour after she'd gone up.

FWIW, her bedroom is not too hot or too cold. She has a blackout blind up, but the door is ajar with a light on the landing in case she needs to get up and go to the toilet in the night. This does not appear to disturb her, and 9/10 she'll sleep through without any problems.

Smize Thu 21-Aug-14 22:29:22

Thanks for all your replies. Dawn - she has always lived life at full speed but the meltdowns have got noticeably worse since late in my pregnancy/baby's arrival.

Micah - dd eats a fairly balanced diet. I try to avoid refined sugars as much as possible. Were there any particular triggers for your sister's children?

Smize Thu 21-Aug-14 22:31:10

Sorry, that last comment was meant for softlysoftly re her cousin's child. On app so can't see posts as I reply smile

Smize Thu 21-Aug-14 22:35:57

Thanks for the tips re bath and bedtime routines. Thankfully once my dd is asleep she will reliably stay asleep for 10 or 11 hours unless she's ill. It's the only saving grace at the moment! Mrs C, your DD sounds exactly like mine. Lots of fun but exhausting!

Dawnlight Thu 21-Aug-14 22:42:53

Don't underestimate the effect the new baby may be having on her too. When ds was born, dd was only 2 and her tantrums escalated massively despite the fact that she loved her baby brother.

I found this website really supportive for dealing with meltdowns. Still do.

Softlysoftlycatchymonkey Thu 21-Aug-14 22:46:52

I think food colouring.

ouryve Thu 21-Aug-14 22:53:12

The Out Of Sync child may give you a few pointers. My eldest does have ADHD and was like Taz at that age. For him, access to lots of cushions and blankets and things to fiddle with helps him to self-regulate.

Children who are hyperactive are often under-sensitive to stimuli, so respond well to things like deep pressure, interesting textures and generally getting his wriggles worked out.

It's hard to blame food colouring, these days Softly. You have to try pretty hard to buy food that has artificial colourings in.

fairybaby Fri 22-Aug-14 05:51:51

Sensory Processing Disorder? My DS has some of the traits you described. He is restless, has too much energy, huge meltdowns, etc. Before he was diagnosed I also thought he was either ADHD or just a badly behaved child! It has been nearly two years since the diagnose and he is making great progress. He get OT therapy, a Sensory diet and lots of understanding from us at home and the teachers at school.

micah Fri 22-Aug-14 09:20:30

Just a quick one to add that sometimes, it's completely normal.

When dd was about 3 or 4 dh (who has some experience in AN), did want her assessed. I had a chat with nursery who said yes, she was active, but they hadn't seen anything that raised any flags. So we left it.

She went to nursery full time and it wasn't unknown for us to be waiting at the door at 8am as she'd had two hours being manic indoors and she loved nursery, it kept her challenged. Even on days off she'd be waiting at the door with her shoes on ready to go do something...

She's now 9 and has found sport to channel her energy. Her behaviour is generally "normal", but she trains 20 hours a week! I do notice if she skips a session she starts to show hyper behaviour, loss of focus etc. the training seems to keep her energy at a level where she can sit and watch a film, or do a jigsaw..

MrsCosmopilite Fri 22-Aug-14 10:17:11

Nursery have not flagged anything with DD either. I think she's just quite quick to pick things up, and quick to get bored; always wanting to do something else.

Today I have resorted/relented and let her watch TV. She's on the sofa but has changed positions about 12 times in the last 10 minutes!

Smize Fri 22-Aug-14 12:10:18

Thanks to you all for taking the time to reply. It's reassuring to know that other children are like this and I'm grateful for all of the suggestions made. Just off to take dd to nursery - it's taken her nearly an hour to eat a small sandwich and half a banana in between chatting, spinning in her chair, fiddling with my shoelaces and more chatting!

MrsCosmopilite Fri 22-Aug-14 13:14:48

Urgh - lunchtime today is challenging. DD asked for a specific sandwich which I made her. I put it on a plate with some little extras - a small tomato, four mini cheddars and a little bit of cheese.
So far she's eaten the mini cheddars and a quarter of a slice of bread. The rest of the bread is being rolled into pellets. The tomato has been squashed into the plate. Filling has been removed from the sandwich and half eaten. She's been there over 15 minutes already.
I've set a timer for 10 more. If the food isn't gone by then, I'll be taking the plate away.

She did eat quite a lot this morning, over the course of an hour or so - snacking on breakfast things so I'm guessing we're in for a 'grazing' day.

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