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Why Your Child Loses It: Understanding Your Child's Temperament

5. Activity level: Is your child always busy and on the move, or more quiet and still?

walks when asked

can sit quietly for extended periods

doesn't need regular exercise

rides in a car seat without protesting

      rarely walks, often runs

always on the go, usually squirms or slides out of her chair

becomes irritable if confined too long

hates the car seat

1 2 3 4 5
low activity level       high activity level

High Activity Level
Kids with a high activity level are always on the move. They need t run, jump, and use their whole body in order to feel good. Which means they're great in sports and dance, but they find it difficult to rid in a car, sit down, and eat or get into bed. Whenever they haven't had an opportunity to exercise or have been confined, you can bet their intensity will be running high.

It's often tough to get high-energy kids to bed. They don't like to stop, especially if they are kids who seek stimulation and are happy. Interestingly enough, Sara Harkness found that when high-activity kids who live in Holland start to get restless, their parents put then to bed! The average Dutch child gets two and half hours more sleep day than the average U.S. child. In the United States when high energy kids start to get restless, their parents find them something else to do.

Researcher Jim Cameron suggests, "High-energy kids fight slowing down to go to bed and often don't even give you cues, like rubbing their eyes, that they are tired." He recommends that rather than let ting them stay up till they "drop," establish a regular bedtime am stick to it! Otherwise high-energy kids tend to get sleep deprived Then they're cranky in the morning and your day begins with power struggles.

Keeping a high-energy child in a car seat is also a challenge. The key is to bring along something that's more interesting to play with than the buckles and straps on the seat. A tape recorder, handheld games, or word game with mom or dad can distract him from the frustration c being restrained.

And when it comes to getting the high-energy toddler to sit at the table, start with "small" expectations. This child is not only tempera mentally more active, he's also in a stage of development where his brain is screaming, Try it! Seat him at the table and involve him in a conversation. When he wants down three minutes later, let him go, but insist he eat only at the table. A few weeks later aim for five minutes then gradually, over time, ten and fifteen minutes. Avoid getting into a struggle with him, but do gradually increase the time to sit so that ultimately he does learn how to slow his body down when the situation requires it.

Plan daily physical activities for your high-energy child and frequent breaks when he has to be confined, and you'll find life with him much more enjoyable.

Kids with high activity levels need words and phrases like:

  • You are very coordinated.
  • Let's go outside.
  • Exercise, then do your homework.
  • You can lie on the floor and work; you don't have to sit at the table.
  • When you start to pick on your sister, I know you need exercise.
Low Activity
Teachers often love -low-activity kids. These children are in their seats working instead of running around the classroom getting into trouble. Their challenge may be to get enough exercise. That's why it's important to insist that these children choose at least one physical activity each day that interests them. The exercise can be a group activity or time to be alone. The most important factor is that it happens. If you're a high-energy parent, plan family outings that allow a choice of being active or watching so that you can connect with your low-energy child.

Low activity kids need words and phrases like:

  • You like to be still.
  • You can choose one activity and then sit for a while.

Next: Page 7 >>

From the book KIDS, PARENTS, AND POWER STRUGGLES: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright 2000 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.

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