Raising A High Energy Child

by Destri on September 17, 2010

We haven’t had one of these posts in awhile, and as readers it seems you either love ‘em or hate ‘em.  So for those of you that enjoy a little editorial, this ones for you.  Especially if you have a high energy kid.  For those of you that like the projects, I have one coming up.  Also we will be announcing the winner to the rock the flop event shortly!  Now onto my ramblings.

Hello, my name is Destri and I have a “high energy child”. I start out this way because sometimes I feel like I need a support group just to raise him. Wanna join?  You know who you are, no riding on the fence here!  At a play date you have no doubt heard “Wow, I bet he sleeps good at night” or “Oh my goodness!  She sure has a lot of energy!”.  Yes, you know who you are.  You are raising a child that can run circles around you and take your heart with him.

I have always worried about my little guy.  Worried that maybe he has early signs of ADHD, or that maybe I let him watch TV to young.  Or maybe allowing myself that one cup of coffee each day while pregnant had a lasting effect on him.  It’s hard not to when you are out with friends and their kids, and your child is literally the tornado ripping through the bunch.  You start to question your parenting, and your ability to raise this child to adulthood while keeping your sanity. At least I do.  I did have a turning point though – a moment I learned to embrace this energy of his and try to work with it rather than fight it.  It was last year at the zoo with friends that I learned to let Hank, be Hank.

As I did in most situations like this, I had my two and half year old and my eleven month old securely strapped into the double stroller.  As we walked I remember watching both of their little boys (about the same age), how they walked beside them only venturing a safe distance before coming back to mom, and being envious.  Finally at some point I reluctantly let Hank out.  We were in the reptile building and it seemed like a place I could contain him.  He scurried off excited to be free, I scrambled behind him telling him “quiet Hank”  “stop running Hank”,  “wait for me Hank”.  All the while I have an eleven month old on my hip.   I am sure I looked like a nervous nelly that just needed to relax.  I can’t say that has really changed.

We head outside and of course he immediately takes off, despite the fact I had just told him to stay by my side.  Embarrassed, I ask my friend to take my baby in the stroller so I can chase after him.  I found him at the monkey cage around the corner.

“Mom, look!  Monkeys!”  He says with more excitement then some display having just won the lottery.

“Hank, I thought I told you to stay by me”  I say with the sternest voice I could muster.  “Why did you run off?”

To which he simply replies “You were going too slow!”

It was in that moment I realized, he is not a bad kid, he is just an energetic one. His curiosity and sense of adventure simply are not content to walk calmly beside me while there was so much to see.  He was not blatantly trying to disobey, his mind works too fast in such an environment to think of ways to be naughty.   It was just honest, genuine excitement, and the harder I fought to contain that, the harder he fought to maintain it.  And why shouldn’t he?  We were at the zoo after all.

We had the “You need to wait for mom so you don’t get lost” talk and then I sat with him and engaged in his excitement over the monkeys.  My friends show up, with their boys by their side, and we head off to the next exhibit.  Off runs Hank down the hill.  Instead of running after him with threats of sitting in the car I make sure he stays within eye shot.  Part of me felt like I was giving into him but my better instincts told me to let him go.  He ran to the elephants, looked back at me with sheer excitement and wonder in his eyes.  Those were elephants in front of him, and boy were they big, and he had no problem showing his enthusiasm for it.  I had no choice but to admire him.  The rest of the day went a lot like that.  Hank running off and me fighting the urge to contain him.  I had to learn to let him go a little, or I was just going to chase him off.

That night I went home and wrote in my journal.  I wrote how I needed to find a way to embrace these qualities of his – that is what they are after all – not some disorder or result of my coffee habit.  To not fight them, or try to change him.  I had to remember to not strip him of this natural love of life he had.  I wrote how I needed to learn how to point all that energy in the right direction, because one day it would accomplish great things if given a chance.  I even wrote that he would probably be the one to teach me how to do that.

So instead of having just a hyper child, I like to think I have a passionate, persistent, energetic child who will live every day of his life.  And underneath all of that you have a little person that wears his heart on his sleeve – he has no time for pretense – an ever willing cuddler, who has yet to meet an enemy.

Last time I went to the park there was an elderly man watching his grandchildren sitting with me.  He was watching our kids play and mentioned “boy I bet he keeps you busy”.  To which I replied “yep, isn’t it great?”  He said “It sure is.”

There are still many days I forget all of this and we have our battles.  It will be nice to have this written here for those days I need reminding.  Yet I have managed to find a way to work with him most of time.  Little tactics and techniques that speak to him in a way that yelling at him never will.  Watching my sister, mom and friends with him has been great.  People sometimes deal with your kids better don’t you think?  Much to be learned from that.  If you’re interested I could share, and you could share yours.  This is a support group after all.

And for those of you with the calm, “stay by moms side” kind of child, please do not think I am discounting them and their qualities.  I have one of those too, thank goodness.  But that is an entirely different post.

So tell me, do you have a high energy child?

**Thanks for all your emails and the heads up on the 404!  I fixed it, so now you can leave a comment!

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