Whole Parenting Family

Wiggle It Out: My Spastic Son Needs to Move & Burn Energy


Boys are hyper, right? Or at least that’s why they apparently can’t sit still and focus in the conventional classroom. An alarming number of boys are diagnosed with ADHD each year, and medicated for the condition, 2.7 million children in 2007 according to the CDC. But a recent study came out questioning the efficacy of the ADHD drugs, and showing that they don’t boost the kids’ grades, instead that the other effects of the medication may outweigh the short term benefits of being able to sit still in a classroom. Read more in the WSJ article. Family encouragement, along with other environmental factors, appear to be more significant in long-term effects paired with the medication. No surprise: drugs alone aren’t the answer.

*Update* A girlfriend just gave me this great link & resource for parents going through troubled times with their kids and who are in need of intervention services. Thank you, Deb!

One thing that I hear again and again from friends with older boys is that it’s just plain hard for them to sit still for long periods in the classroom. I get it now; I have a three year old boy. He is wiggly, squiggly, and very tantrum prone. I know that’s “normal” for a three year old boy, but I’m sick of the many many tantrums a day. It pains me to see him so beside himself when he can’t have his way. It pains me because I know to indulge him will set him up for a very very sad life, and because in the present, it makes our long days together extra long. It’s like he’s a fireball inside. Or one big ball of spasm.

He’s always been a physical touch love-language learner. We’re big on wrestling (yes, me and him), tickle tackling, and rough housing. Primarily because he’s going to do it anyway and I might as well join in the fun.

1) Morning Movement.

One solution I’ve come up with is to be more physical. I mean, run the energy out of him. Exercise him like a puppy that’s getting into trouble because it has too much energy. So we’ve started our “morning movements” wherein do a little workout routine.

we stretch high to the sky,

and down to the ground (4-5 times),

then left

& right swinging our arms,

then hopping in place,

then clapping our hands above our heads–precourses to jumping jacks,

then summersaults.

Then running around the house, being “timed.”

After all this is over and done with–about 15-20 minutes later, we collapse, with SweetPea all over us, onto the kitchen floor, and sip on water. He’s been better already at listening the first time, going with the flow (kinda), and exhibiting a longer attention span.

2) Kick the ball–hit the ball.

My mom has started playing “two-man kickball” with him, although perhaps it’s a misnomer given her gender. They kick this big beach ball up and down the boulevard park in front of our house and chase it, each other, kicking, running. And she is so cute! Wearing our sweatpants from high school, hair in a pony tail. She’s the ultimate grandmother. NUNU!

And I pitch him a bucket of soft soft balls every morning after breakfast. He’s got a mean swing! And yes, when he was pitching to me the other day I ME MY swing hit a wuffle ball right into SweetPea’s back. She didn’t even cry, but there was a welt. So much for nagging him about safety around his sissie.

What a difference in his behavior after this workout! He’s sweeter, quieter, and less prone to freak-out. I’m hoping this new movement based approach saves our relationship because I’m on the edge of parental burnout. Three year old boys who are strong willed? Tough stuff.

I don’t know much about ADHD, but reading about the studies on how drugs are working or not reminded me to try to deal with my son’s awful terrible scandalous insane tantrums and help him help himself the best I can at this age. And that little boys need to move their bodies and shake that testosterone all about before they can listen well. This is not to discount ADHD or other disorders, or say that parents need to just run their children to run out a disorder. Clearly, it’s not so simple. Really the article acted as an impetus for me to think about behaviors, family support, and my own little challenge.