My 5-year old kid is very active from start until the end of the day. She doesn't even get a nap at noon. In school, her teacher often scold her because she keeps on shouting and running around the class.
What is the best way to treat hyperactive kids and is there a chance for her to change her behavior?
One of the best "first steps" you can do to help your active daughter is to look at her diet to find out which foods are contributing to her hyperactivity.
Children who eat foods high in sugar, and refined carbohydrates like white rice and white flour products can experience a drop in blood sugar levels which can make them hyperactive. Many parents find it really easy to offer their children crackers, cookies biscuits, juice or soda as inexpensive, quick snacks. This is not good for a variety of reasons.
During the formative years (up through age five) your child is learning the foods they will gravitate towards for the rest of their life. If you are feeding your child fresh fruits and vegetables with quality protein, and severely limiting sugar and white flour products as "once a week treats" your child will prefer the higher quality, nutrient dense foods as they grow up. Conversely, if they are given crackers, cookies and biscuits each day, they will prefer these as they get older and it will be more of a challenge for them to change the way they eat later.
Foods that are high in sugar or white flour can trigger the release of "stress" hormones which are involved in the "fight or flight" response. These hormones make us fidgety, irritable and anxious — certainly not something that we want to occur in our young children who are already rambunctious by nature.
Some children are sensitive to food coloring which can also contribute to hyperactivity.
I would transition your child to a diet that has very little sugar (make it a treat once a week or so) and greatly reduce the intake of grains like rice, corn chips, potato chips, and especially wheat. A little rice each day is fine, but transitioning to brown rice is going to help with blood sugar control.
You will find food coloring to be hiding mostly in pre-packaged or canned foods on the grocery store shelves. I've found that most pickle relish has food coloring, but I have found a couple of brands that does not. I always choose the brand without food coloring when possible.
As a good rule, avoid purchasing foods that come in cans, jars or packages at the store. Anything with a shelf life more than about a week is going to be much lower in nutrients than a food that has a shelf life of less than a week. Focus on fruits, vegetables and fresh eggs, fish and meat. Add some foods high in essential fatty acids like walnuts, salmon and flax seeds. If your daughter does well on milk products, adding in some whole fat cheese or cottage cheese can also be helpful.
Children love smoothies, and it is a great way to sneak some extra fruits and vegetables into their diet.
Here's a video of a 5 year old who wouldn't look at a fruit or vegetable. Now he makes his own raw food smoothies!
Please post back and let us know what your child usually eats and if there are some changes you think you could make that may help to balance her blood sugar and hormone levels better.
Thank you so much Kate. Your advice is really helpful. I didn't know that foods high in sugar and white rice cause hyperactivity. I also give her crackers and bottled juice for snack specially in school.
Now I know what kind of food or snack I should give to my kids. Thank you so much for the information.
Here are some healthy snack ideas to send in children's lunches.
"Ants on a log" - this is celery stuffed with peanut butter and topped with raisins. Children often enjoy eating what they make, so let her help you make them (make enough for a week) and then she can help wrap them or put them in lunch containers. At the age of 5, children can do a lot more than most mums think they can, and working with you in the kitchen is going to provide an opportunity for bonding, along with training your daughter to enjoy cooking.
Carrot sticks, Jicama sticks (my favorite and something I was introduced to in grade school), and celery sticks can be packed up with a little container of dip or salad dressing. The dip or dressing may not be the healthiest, but if it helps your daughter to enjoy her vegetables, it's worth a try. Some healthy dips would include hummus, peanut butter (or peanut butter with a bit of honey) or mashed avocado (think guacamole).
Deviled eggs or hard boiled eggs will satisfy a child who is craving protein.
Sliced pears, apples, oranges or any other fruit/berries are healthy and sweet, which will help to satisfy a craving for sweets. Start training your daughter to recognize fruit as dessert, if you find that eating too much of it makes her hyperactive.
Serve almond butter instead of peanut butter to pack more nutrients into a snack. If you need to transition her from peanut butter to almond butter, start with adding just a little almond butter to the peanut butter, and gradually, over time reduce the peanut butter until she's eating all almond butter.
Almonds are high in magnesium, offering 48% of the required daily value. Magnesium is calming on the body, and most people are deficient in magnesium. Peanuts offer 38% of the daily value of magnesium, so almonds are better. Peanuts also tend to cause problems with people who are sensitive to molds, whereas almonds do not. You may even want to try transitioning your daughter to almond milk rather than cow's milk and see if that makes a difference in her hyperactivity.
Thinly sliced cucumber and carrots can be wrapped with sliced roast beef or turkey. Just place the cucumber and carrots in the center of a piece of meat, and roll it up.
Here's a pinterest page that shows lots of pictures of healthy snacks for children. I found some fun ideas there, but be careful that you don't assume all the snacks are healthy. What's healthy to one person may not be healthy at all to another.
Children love making their own sandwiches. If you are limiting the bread to one piece a day, send one piece of bread, a plastic knife, some peanut butter and a banana. She can create her own sandwich by spreading the bread with the peanut butter, and slicing the banana (with the plastic knife) into slices she can put on her sandwich.
Hope this gives you some new, healthy ideas for snacks and school lunches.
Thank you for that information. It's a big help.