My Energetic Child: Channeling ADHD Hyperactivity
As a young child, Gregory was always happy and full of joy and energy. He took great pleasure in having conversations with almost everyone, and he always spoke in a loud voice full of excitement.
As his mother, I didn’t mind his talkativeness and energy, but it annoyed others, especially his teachers. He couldn’t sit still in school and talked all the time in class. He couldn’t concentrate for as long as the other kids, and he always wanted to move on to the next thing before it was time.
Greg could run for hours without getting tired. He jumped from one activity to another so quickly that other children found him tiring. They went looking for playmates who weren’t quite as hectic.
I didn’t want to tame my son’s eager mind, but I knew he needed to unleash his energy in a more constructive way.
You can imagine what I experienced during the summer vacation when school was canceled. Gregory would crawl out of his skin during these long pauses. His two sisters didn’t always share his intensity and had to stay busy. But he loved being outside and dug holes just to see what was beneath all the dirt. Regardless of the weather conditions, Greg was able to find something to explore.
[Get This Download: A Routine That Works for Kids with ADHD]
An outlet for ADHD energy
His thirst for discovery offered him perfect teaching moments and opportunities to direct his energy productively. I decided that we would do “travel days” twice a week during the summer vacation. I marked them on the calendar and told him we would visit special places where he could hunt. Together with his sisters we stopped in the library and took out children’s books for the day trips. Our destinations were usually the beach or the urban metroparks.
On the way there, I would ask the children to relate what they saw in their surroundings to the pictures in their books. We would also bring play buckets and shovels, a cool box and of course a first aid kit.
As soon as we got to the site I let go of the kids. Greg would dig and rake and turn over stones and leaves. I let him lead. We came across trees, flowers, and weeds – and I identified each one and had the children repeat after me. I had read the description from the book I had on hand on the native flora and fauna. Even if it looked like they weren’t listening, I thought that maybe they’d keep some of the information.
Greg found a frog or a worm and then we took out the book and read about it. It would be counted as the successful find of the day. We spent at least a couple of hours hunting, sometimes taking our finds home to show Papa.
[Read: Green Time: A Natural Remedy for ADHD Symptoms]
The best thing about these outdoor trips was that Greg was never expected to focus on one thing for long. I let him tell me when he was ready to move on to the next topic. Sometimes it took a few seconds. But sometimes he would watch a turtle for 5 minutes at a time and wait for it to move.
On the way home we stopped again in the library and returned the books. He was also responsible for that. I made him part of every process of the adventure.
His friends went with him on some of these adventures that gave him the chance to play teacher. He was so proud of himself when he could give his buddy interesting information about what he was watching. Needless to say, my kids loved going on these adventures with others. I loved seeing Greg build strong relationships with the friends who came with me. Other mothers heard about our “hunts” and these events soon became popular in our community.
Greg was eagerly looking forward to the travel days and was constantly checking our calendar in anticipation of the next event. Not all trips took place on beaches or parks. Some of the hunts took place in our yard and in the neighborhood. On these evenings we spent some time watching brief documentaries of what we discovered during the day, although Greg didn’t care as much as the practical experience.
The days of travel and adventures finally ended when Greg got older and started exercising, which took a lot of time and energy. Greg is now a young adult who found a job he loves, in maintenance and construction. He will definitely never have an office job, and that’s fine. It’s nice to have a job that you do well and that you enjoy doing every day. He spends his free time outdoors camping and fishing.
I would love to think that I helped improve his skills, but it was Greg who showed me what he was good at all along.
Energetic Child: The Next Steps
Thank you for reading ADDitude. To support our mission of providing ADHD education and support, please consider registering. Your readership and support help make our content and reach possible. Many Thanks.
Updated July 13, 2021