Reasons Your Child May Be Hyperactive

Hyperarctivity in kids stems from many causes.
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While some kids are content coloring for hours or playing quietly with blocks for half the day, others can’t seem to sit still for two minutes. They’re fidgeting, jumping, bouncing, and literally climbing the walls most of the time.

If your child is struggling to tame his wiggles, and it’s affecting his daily life, explore the possible reasons why he’s hyperactive.

1. Stress

Whether it’s permanent chaos or a short-term schedule change, a child may have difficulty relaxing if he’s feeling stressed. Even positive changes, like having a new baby or moving to a better neighborhood can create a lot of stress for a child.

Before you decide your child couldn’t possibly be affected by financial problems or relationship issues, remember that kids pick up on their parents’ stress. If you’re stressed out, there’s a good chance your child is stressed out.

Make sure your child has a consistent and predictable routine. If you’re experiencing stressful life events, give your child extra reassurance and support.

2. Mental Health Problems

Emotional issues often look like behavior disorders in children. A child with an anxiety disorder may struggle to sit still. Or one who has been traumatized by a scary event may not be able to concentrate.

If you suspect your child may be experiencing an emotional issue, seek professional help. Treatment can reduce a wide range of symptoms, including hyperactivity.

3. Dietary Issues

While research shows sugar doesn’t cause hyperactivity, some experts believe certain food additives are linked to behavior problems. A few studies found that preservatives and artificial colors increased hyperactivity in children.

If you think your child’s diet may play a role in his activity level, talk to your pediatrician. There are some diets that can help you discover food intolerances and sensitivities that may be exacerbating your child’s behavior.

4. Physical Health Problems

There are some physical health problems that cause hyperactivity. An overactive thyroid, for example, can cause a wide range of symptoms ranging from anxiety to hyperactivity. There are also other genetic issues that may lead to increased activity.

Talk to your pediatrician about your child’s symptoms. Keeping a detailed list of your concerns could help a doctor identify potential health problems that may be at the root of the issue.

5. Lack of Exercise

Without enough exercise, children may struggle to sit still and stay focused. Unfortunately, sometimes kids lose their recess privileges at school due to behavior or academic problems. This can make hyperactivity even worse.

Encourage your child to get frequent bouts of exercise every day. Playing on a playground, riding a bike, and running give your child an opportunity to channel his energy into productive activities.


Approximately 11% of children have ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. ADHD is a neurobiological condition that causes symptoms such as impulsivity, impaired focus, and increased activity.

Talk to your pediatrician if you think your child may have ADHD. While there isn’t a specific test for the condition, a pediatrician can conduct an assessment and refer your child for further evaluation if necessary.

7. Overtired

While adults tend to grow sluggish when they’re tired, children often become hyperactive. Whether it’s a missed nap or a late bedtime, a sleepy child may seem more animated than ever.

When a child doesn’t get enough rest, his body responds by making more cortisol and adrenaline so he can stay awake. As a result, he’ll have more energy.

Make sure your child is getting plenty of sleep. If you have difficulty ensuring he gets enough rest, talk to your pediatrician about strategies that could help.

Strategies to Address Hyperactivity

It's important to make sure you have age-appropriate expectations of your child. Expecting a toddler to sit still for hours or thinking your preschooler should play quietly all day could lead you to think your child is hyperactive.

When your child is hyperactive, set clear limits. Try to calm your child and teach him healthy ways to channel his energy. If necessary, follow through with consistent consequences, like time-out.