المجلس العالمي للتسامح والسلام

Let’s talk about… Hyperactivity!

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

Dr. Antoine Chartouni

Parents complain about their children who are too active. You cannot ask a child to stay calm and not play because playing is a way to discover their surroundings. There are some children who never run out of energy; they never get tired and cannot sit down to relax, but are always playing. This is what we call “hyperactivity” in children, and its psychological, educational and social consequences on the child…

Is hyperactivity in children a worrying disorder, or is excessive movement normal in children? Is children’s movement, and their interaction with each other healthy?

What is hyperactivity in children?

Hyperactivity is a neurological and psychological disorder that affects the behavior of the child and causes him problems on an academic level, and lack of concentration and lack of attention or distraction, which means difficulty to maintain focus, forgetfulness and lack of attention to detail. We also notice in children that they cannot stay in one place and play quietly, but when they play, there is shouting, noise and violence and a lot of running and climbing. There is also chaos, which leads to neglecting homework, and not following the necessary school instructions, and thus rushing to answer, or interrupting others because of lack of patience. All this helps in diagnosing the condition that requires quick intervention of a psychiatrist or neurologist, along with a therapist.

What are the underlying causes of hyperactivity in children?

There are many reasons behind the emergence of hyperactivity in children. The most important are:

1. Poor and irregular sleep habits leads to increased movement in the child. Excessive exhaustion also makes the child aggressive, affecting his behavior through fits of anger and alertness;

2. Watching a lot of cartoons and animations that are aggressive and have strong colors contribute to making the child very active, not to mention the prevalence of obesity among children who sit in front of the screen for hours watching non-stop series. In addition, watching television for long hours prevents the child from discharging his energy trough playing and exercising. So parents should let the child watch TV for only one hour a day;

3. Parents also play a prominent role in the emergence of motor hyperactivity in their children. Psychological studies have shown that children exposed to high-pressure become more prone to excess movement and hyperactivity;

4. Some foods such as sugar affect indirectly the behavior of children. Consuming large amounts of sugar gives the child large amounts of energy, and allergies of certain foods makes him very agitated;

5. Artificial colors, preservatives, caffeine and others all affect the child’s actions and increase his activity.

Some practical tips for parents:

After making sure that there is no physiological reason affecting the child’s behavior and hyperactivity, parents may follow the following tips:

First: Do not force the child to do something he does not want to do. Also, divide the study time by teaching the child for ten minutes in a row, for example, and then giving him maximum 5 minutes to rest and play, and then go back to studying. Every two to three weeks, the lesson time can be increased and the break time kept.

Second: Do not reprimand, punish or beat a child suffering from hyperactivity. Aggressive behavior towards him will make him more active and turbulent. Instead, parents must explain to their child, and of course play with him if necessary, and then remind him of the importance of the lesson.

Third: Distance the child from all external influences during the lesson. It is important to have a very quiet study room, so that the child can concentrate for as long as possible.

Fourth: During play, it is recommended that the child plays in a small group of children because playing in large groups will promote the behavior of excessive mobility and hostility.

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