Young children are often restless and excitable. Their noisy
liveliness is usually just a part of being young. Although it may
be tiring, it is usually nothing to worry about.
Sometimes youngsters may be so active and
noisy that it makes life difficult for their parents and other
children. A child like this may be demanding and excitable, and
chatter away nineteen to the dozen. They may be noisy, may not do
as they are told, and will probably find it difficult to sit still.
Adults may say that he's ‘hyperactive’, but the trouble with this
word is that professionals use it to describe extreme, and
sometimes dangerous behaviour, such as running out into a busy
There are many things that can make a child overactive. The
following should give you some guidance as to the reasons for your
child's behaviour. Finding the reasons may help you to come up with
some solutions to combat the problem.
Being a parent
If parents are unhappy, depressed or worried, they tend to pay
less attention to their children. They may find they can't spend
the time they need to help them play constructively, or they may
find that when they do play with them, they spend a lot of time
telling them to be quiet. Children learn from this that they have
to be naughty or noisy to get any attention from their mum or
No clear rules
It is important to have simple rules about what is allowed and
what is not. If two parents are involved, they both need to agree
about the rules, and be consistent and fair when they say `no'.
This will help the child to know what is expected and to learn
self-control (see Factsheet 2 on good parenting and Factsheet 4 on
behavioural and conduct problems).
We are all born with different temperaments. Some children are
livelier, noisier and more outgoing than others. They may prefer
going out and being with other people than quietly reading a book
or playing with toys by themselves. Quite often, children who are
active like this are also excitable and may go over the top while
playing. Although this can be a nuisance, it is nothing to worry
about, but you may need some help in finding ways to help your
child calm down.
Some children find it hard to learn things that other children
find easy. They may need special help at school. They may seem
quite young for their age and find it hard to concentrate on work
or control their behaviour as well as other children (see factsheet 10 on general learning
Glue ear is a common example of a hearing problem. If a child
has glue ear, they will find it hard to hear what other people say,
will tend to shout and may want the television turned up very
Some children do seem to react to certain foods by becoming
restless and irritable. This is not as common as some people think,
but occasionally, it can be a real problem.
If you are concerned that your child is affected by
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or hyperkinetic
see Factsheet 5
on ADHD and hyperkinetic disorder
for further information.