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Hyperactivity or normal behavior? How can I tell?

Hyperactivity or normal behavior? How can I tell?

Now that our kids are all being home-schooled with online learning, you might become aware and notice signs of hyperactivity and brain imbalance. But how can you tell if your kiddos’ behavior is normal or hyper? The line between an energetic, full-of-life boy and a hyperactive one is often blurry. Is it hard for the child to sit still? Can they focus and get down to work?

With homeschooling, it will be much easier to recognize if our children struggle with school. If it’s your first child, you might wonder if this behavior is “normal”.  Maybe this is your second or third child and you know that there is something different and hope they’ll just grow out of it.

Kids are naturally active and inquisitive, and some more so than others which is not a cause for concern. This can just be a normal part of your child’s development or personality. Let’s look at red flags that you should pay attention to:

Information Processing.  You can see this if your child is expected to quickly and accurately make sense of and respond to instruction but does not, or they can’t follow you through a 4-step explanation without getting distracted. Often those children that have trouble slowing down enough to process information accurately.
Emotional Regulation. This interferes with social relationships, leading to a sense of isolation and lowered self-esteem. Being easily frustrated and overwhelmed are signs of it, it often results in “losing it” and a “meltdown”.
Executive Functions are things like organizing, planning, prioritizing, paying attention, and remembering details. You can see problems with this in the lack of preparation for classes, short attention span, not remembering the first part of an exercise, etc.
Maturity. This is due to an imbalance in brain development.  This means that some kids may lack the judgment they need to make smart choices or choices that would be considered age-appropriate. Thus, an 11-year-old may think and behave, more like a young child than like a rising teenager, they tend to be less mature developmentally than their same-age peers.

3  Key things to look for possible underlying problems:

1. Coordination – Thinking and moving work hand in hand. This is especially true for younger kids.  This is why recess is such an essential part of the school day for kids.  Take a look at your child’s movement more closely. Are they having trouble with handwriting or other fine finger movements? Are they a little clumsy and bumping into things? These can be signs that the brain and the body are not communicating and working well together. Help them exercise their coordination with a balance disc, a trampoline, walking on lines in the streets, and core strengthening exercises.

Gut symptoms – Constipation, gas, pain, diarrhea, food sensitivity. The gut and the brain work hand in hand. Does your child get hyper after eating certain foods? Does he/she crave certain foods like bread and gluten? Allergies, food sensitivities, leaky gut, or just a mild form of one can dramatically change how your brain functions. Take notice of changes in behavior after having certain foods or drinks.

3. Pay attention to behaviors while taking your child’s age into account.  Here are some key behaviors to notice.

Symptoms of inattention (aka attention deficit):

Doesn’t pay attention to details
Doesn’t seem to listen when spoken to
Doesn’t follow through on instructions and fails to finish tasks
Has trouble organizing tasks and activities
Tries to avoid tasks that require sustained mental effort

Symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsive behavior:

Fidgets, squirms, taps hands or feet
Has trouble staying seated, gets up often
Talks a lot
Has trouble waiting for his or her turn
Interrupts or intrudes on others

Start journaling the ones you notice and consult if they are regularly present.

In short, it can be really hard for a parent to tell whether a child’s activity level or attention span is cause for concern. Because of that, we encourage parents to play it safe: If you have even a mild suspicion, make an appointment with your child’s pediatrician or call the office to meet with Dr. Burton or Dr. Emma as we have a program specifically designed to correct the underlying causes of ADHD and other issues.

And if your child is able to control their impulses and emotions, pay attention, and respond appropriately during school time and during home life, they are probably just an energetic individual, and not affected by ADHD.