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Hyperactive Behavior in a 3 Year Old

by Julie Christensen

Most 3 year olds are hyperactive at least some of the time. If your child is so active that you worry about keeping him safe, it might be time to consult your pediatrician. Although pediatricians rarely prescribe medication for a preschooler, there are many other strategies that can help.

Activity Level

Sometimes it's hard to discern between typical preschool behavior and something more serious. Spend time with other children at the park or in a play group. These experiences might relieve your mind about your own child's behavior. On the other hand, if your child seems excessively hyperactive in comparison to other children or seems to have other problems, such as a language or motor delay, seek an expert opinion.

Motor Activities

Preschoolers need several hours of active play every day to support their growing bodies, but active play is even more important for a hyperactive child. Take a walk, kick a ball or play in the backyard. The more time your child spends outdoors, the better. In fact, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that children diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were substantially less hyperactive when they regularly played outdoors in green spaces. Tumbling classes can also be helpful because the actions of turning upside down and rolling calm the nervous system.

Limit Technology

It's probably tempting to park your hyperactive child in front of the television so you can have a break, but too much technology can actually cause hyperactivity. According to David Walsh, a licensed psychologist, college professor and author of "Smart Parenting, Smarter Kids," the bright lights and constantly changing images on television, video games and computer games stimulate the brain's reflexive center, which is designed to alert humans to danger. This hyper-alert state makes it difficult for children to focus on tasks that require more sustained attention, such as reading a book, working on a puzzle or playing a board game. Limit all types of media to no more than one hour per day, and avoid programs with violent content.

Support

Parenting a hyperactive 3 year old can try even the most patient parent. To aggravate the situation, strangers, neighbors and even family members may express judgments about your child or your parenting. Try not to listen to well-meant, but unhelpful, advice. Avoid guilt traps or worries that you somehow caused your child's behavior. Instead, focus on maintaining loving, nurturing bonds with your little one. Set reasonable limits and consistently stick to them -- even when you're tired. Seek help from empathetic pediatricians, counselors or even other parents who've been there.

About the Author

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."

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