Hyperactivity – Signals Stress

Parents and children who are in a perpetual state of fight or flight due to their busy schedules can lead to children being misdiagnosed with learning and behavior disorders – ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) says, Charles Fay, PhD, president of the Golden Colorado based parenting organization, the Love and Logic Institute.

Parents need to check their stress level as there can be a synergistic trickle down effect from parent to child. “Children take their emotional cues from the adults around them,” Fay stated, A lot of high-achieving, perfectionist children think mistakes are the end of the world, because their parents react that way.”

Fay counsels parents to model positive reactions to stressors. Take a moment to tell your child(ren) a funny story about how you spilled milk in your lap at school and had to go home to change clothes and the lesson you learned.

Instead of freaking out as you rush around the house looking for the car keys, say, “Oh dear, I can’t find my keys, but, it isn’t the end of the world if I am a few minutes late.” Then collect your thoughts and focus on where you put the keys. Or better yet, have a particular place for the keys and consistently put them there, so looking for missing keys will be one less stressor.

Experts say over scheduling is a common chronic source of stress with many parents shuttling junior from story time to baby yoga to play dates. According to a 2001 study by University of Michigan researchers, children age three to five have eight fewer hours per week of free play time than children did in 1981. Children age six to eight enjoy thirteen fewer hours of free time than children in 1981.

There is an easy solution: “Remind yourself that it is okay for children to be at lose ends or even bored occasionally says, Fay, noting that boredom fosters creativity and prepares children for a ‘real life’ that is not completely action packed.

If you often eat in the car in route to endless activities, your child has a tantrum or falls asleep on the way to a practice or he/she doesn’t talk about an activity (a sign of genuine interest), it could be stress signals. Ask your child to make a list of his/her favorite interests, in order of priority, Fay suggests and trim off the least favorite activities.

On the flip side, Fay advises that too little structure at home can be stressful for children. It is a psychological fact that children look to their parents to demonstrate assertiveness and to provide the boundaries that make them feel safe. “If you have anxious children, one question to ask is: “Am I setting appropriate limits and adhering to those limits?”