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Hyperactivity is a common symptom we see in many children, especially boys. There are many factors that can contribute to hyperactivity including lack of movement, underdeveloped nervous system, nutrition deficiency, and more. We outline three simple ways you can improve your child’s hyperactivity at home.
- 1) The nervous system needs movement. But not just any kind of movement. Too often we rely on swings and crash pads to allow our children to “get their wiggles out” when really their body needs a more developmental approach and progression to movement. When a child is hyperactive they need a combination of vestibular, proprioceptive, and visual activities to calm the nervous system and provide the stimulation needed for integration. If your child is young, start simple: log rolls, all four’s crawling, somersaults, and basic ball work (throwing and catching a ball with you, or rolling back and forth). For older children challenge their balance: have them on a balance board/pad or on one foot while they catch and throw a bean bag to themselves, or bounce catch a tennis ball to a wall. Engaging all three sensory systems will help organize their system and bring calm to their body.
- 2) Lack of nutrition leads to hyperactivity. Did you know that hyperactivity is a symptom of gluten & dairy insensitivity and glutamate? Gluten and casein (protein in dairy) can create an opiod type effect on your body – giving your child the same stimulation as a drug. Opioid Peptides can cause the following symptoms: addiction to foods (does your child love cheese & bread??), high pain tolerance, inattention and spacey behavior, aggression (to self or others), stimming, mood changes, poor eye contact, and anxiety/depression. Go gluten free/dairy free and see the differences in your child within a matter of days. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter responsible for over 50% of the nervous system, including the sensory system. The balanced relationship between Glutamate and GABA is important to keep our nervous system even keeled. With too much glutamate you’ll see hyperactivity, poor sleep, irritability, aggression, and impulsivity. Glutamate just happens to be in almost every processed food on the market. It is hidden in ingredients such as “natural flavors” and “citric acid” and better known as “MSG”. Reduce or eliminate processed foods in your home and you’ll see a calmer, happier child. To learn more about glutamate, click this link.
- 3) Children need downtime in nature. Today’s children are spending less and less time outdoors and have adopted the “indoor lifestyle” that so many adults live. Wake up, get ready, then spend the majority of days indoors at school (with very little recess/outdoor playtime); then off to a sport or dance class which is indoors; next back home to dinner and tv/homework before bed — spending the entire day indoors. Our bodies were not meant to live inside. We need to connect back to nature. Our brain craves the simpleness of feeling grass on our feet, feeling the sun on our skin, and hearing the wind blow in the leaves. Nature was the very first sensory therapy. There is no need for adding artificial auditory/visual/tactile stimulation when you can get it all naturally when you step outside, barefoot preferably, and spend time in nature. You’ll notice your hyperactive child will immediately calm when they connect to nature on a hike, climbing trees, or rolling down a grassy hill. Aim to get yourself and your child outside in nature a minimum of 20 minutes per day, and hopefully much more. Bonus points if you have them barefoot where they can “ground” to the earth, which helps reduce inflammation by connecting to earth’s energy. To learn more about the benefits of grounding (“earthing”), click here.