our everyday life

How to Handle Hyper Kids Without Medicine

by Jennifer Zimmerman, studioD

Everyone feels hyper sometimes, but kids who are constantly hyper can have problems in school or at home. Children who are consistently hyper may be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, a chemical imbalance in the brain that may require medication. But even children who are not diagnosed with ADHD can struggle with hyperactivity. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a number of techniques besides medication, such as behavior therapy and parenting techniques.

Organization and Support

Talk to your child's pediatrician. She will help you determine where your child falls on the hyperactivity spectrum and if a diagnosis of ADHD is warranted. She may also have suggestions for behavioral therapists, parenting groups and books that will help you handle your child.

Talk to your child's teacher. You'll need to discuss which behaviors are the biggest problems at school or day care so that you can work on those first. The teacher may also have suggestions about ways to help hyper children.

Create a family calendar. Hyper kids need organization and structure, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics. A family calendar lets everyone know when meetings, classes, doctors' appointments and projects are happening.

Develop and record family routines. You'll want to create even more structure by listing your child's daily tasks, chores and responsibilities. For some hyper kids, it can be hard to remember what they're supposed to do after they put on their pajamas: brush their teeth or chase after their little brothers. Give or post lists that cover all the steps necessary for getting ready for bed, completing homework, getting ready for school and any other routines that cause challenges.

Give your child the chance to burn off energy while developing self-control. Although it may seem logical to put your hyper child in a sport that requires constant movement, such as soccer or basketball, those sports don't necessarily teach self-control, and remembering all of their rules can be overwhelming. Family Education suggests that hyper children participate in sports such as swimming, martial arts, dance, gymnastics and track and field where they can develop concentration and focus and where tasks are straightforward.

Simplification and Clarity

Adjust your living space to suit your child's needs. If your hyper child is always knocking things over, try decluttering the areas she uses. If an open area always seems to inspire her to get even more hyper, fill in that open area with comfortable furniture.

Provide clear expectations for each situation. Make sure your child looks you in the eye as you tell her what kind of behavior is expected. Be clear and concise, suggests the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Give one-step directions. Chances are good that your hyper child has gotten a lot of negative feedback on her behavior. She also might be overwhelmed by multi-step directions such as, "Put your backpack on the hook, your lunchbox on the kitchen counter, your shoes in the hall, and then run upstairs and get your dance bag." Instead, say one step at a time, and praise her as she completes each step.

Make sure consequences are simple, immediate and consistent. Hyper children are often too busy to reflect on their behavior independently, so giving a consequence even half an hour after the undesired behavior won't be as effective as doing it immediately.

Items you will need
  •  Large calendar
  •  Markers
  •  Chart paper
  •  Stickers


  • Try to focus on praising the behaviors you want to see, as opposed to correcting the behaviors that you don't want to see. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests ignoring undesirable behaviors unless they are dangerous or completely intolerable.


  • Don't forget to try some relaxation techniques. Sometimes kids literally don't know how to settle themselves down. You can teach yours to take deep, calming breaths or to concentrate on tightening large muscle groups and then relaxing them.

About the Author

Jennifer Zimmerman is a former preschool and elementary teacher who has been writing professionally since 2007. She has written numerous articles for The Bump, Band Back Together, Prefab and other websites, and has edited scripts and reports for DWJ Television and Inversion Productions. She is a graduate of Boston University and Lewis and Clark College.

Photo Credits

  • Michael Blann/Lifesize/Getty Images