How to Manage Hyperactive Children in Class and at Home

Boy playing with letters in a classroom.

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Does your child's hyperactivity and constant fidgeting cause problems at home and at school? The strategies that follow can help control hyperactive motor activity and reduce anxiety for the child, his teachers, and his parents.

Students with learning disabilities sometimes have difficulty with fidgeting. This is particularly true of students who also have attention deficit disorders with hyperactivity (ADHD). These tips can help to manage such motor activity, whether used alone or with a comprehensive behavior intervention plan.

Don't Withhold Recess

While it may be tempting to withhold recess or physical playtime as punishment for hyperactive behaviors, it is generally not a good idea for teachers to do that. In fact, withholding physical play can make classroom hyperactivity worse. If you need to discipline a hyperactive child, find an alternative method. You might assign the child to trash duty after school, for example.

Students with hyperactivity need physical activity to run off excess energy. Being active in appropriate situations, such as recess or study breaks at home, also reinforces the message that hyperactivity can be appropriate in these settings and situations.

Pair the Child Up With a Buddy

Consider pairing the student with a buddy to run classroom errands, pass out papers, wash the blackboard or other physical chores. At home, break for physical activities outside such as a game of catch, running, basketball, or other highly active sports. This type of physical activity can provide a break from seat work, may reduce fidgeting and typically increases tolerance for seatwork.

Allow the Child to Stand

Consider using a standing workstation or work area with a beanbag chair at the side or back of the room that allows the student to stand to do work. If this helps, allow the student to choose to stand to work or move to the beanbag when he feels the need. Beanbag chairs can sometimes help students with sensory integration problems, which some hyperactive children have.

Use a Stress Ball

Provide a stress ball or other quiet squishy toy for the child to squeeze in his pocket or at his desk. These kinds of toys can focus attention, particularly in students with sensory integration issues.

Encourage Attention to Detail

If the student rushes through her work, prompt them to check it carefully before turning it in. This will teach them to pay attention to details to avoid making sloppy mistakes that can hurt them academically.

Give Second Chances

When grading the student's work, mark errors and allow him to recoup partial credit for corrections he makes. This, too, will teach him to pay attention to detail.

Allow Time for Breaks

At school, provide breaks between assignments and during extended periods of seatwork. Consider allowing the student to walk laps in the gym, do isometric exercises, stretches and breathing exercises to relieve tension at least once an hour. In fact, while at school, the whole class can benefit from these stress and tension relievers.

A Word From Verywell

Remember the quiet kids too! Some children are distracted by other students' fidgeting behavior. Allow these students to work away from the fidgeting student or work in a pleasant study carrel.

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