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How NOT to keep a hyperactive six year old on an even keel...

Arius Von Barius has been driving his father and I right up the wall, across the ceiling and down around the bend for the past couple of weeks. Like fools, we could not figure out why... I finally figured it out this morning... In the past three weeks, he's moved house, fractured his arm, fallen in love with his cousin who lives in Denmark (and who went home and did not take him with her!), and had a visit from his grandad, who he usually only sees maybe once or twice a year.

Cuddles with his cousin.

That's a whole lot of excitement for a six year old who is prone to spin off axis over an unexpected sports day at school.

His teachers have (gently) complained about him being extremely distracted in class, not being able to focus on a task for more than a couple of minutes at a time, or sit still for any length of time. At the same time, they say he's been yawning and almost dropping off in class. There were some rather strong suggestions we try to get him to bed a bit earlier (Earlier than 5.30pm? When is he supposed to eat, exactly?).

It would be nice if life was predictable all the time, or if everyone took change in their stride, but neither of these phenomena are realistic. In fact, with me going away for a few days next weekend (and I've never been away that long without him), and him starting swimming at school (which will completely upset the school time table), there isn't much hope of predictability or easy transitions in Ari's near future.

So, how will we all cope? Here is the plan (drawn from my many years of experience, and a little head scratching and resource relocating)...

1. Do a big grocery shop to eliminate fast food from the diet. All those additives and preservatives are no good, neither is going to a busy fast food 'restaurant' after a long day at school. What he needs is quiet after school, and a nourishing dinner and a very predictable, early bed time each night - especially once swimming starts, because all the excitement and change and swimming will exhaust him.

2. Lots of attention to detail. That is, make eye contact with him when asking him to do stuff or telling him important stuff (including 'I love you', even when he's being a right, royal pain). Lots of cuddles. A bit more 'in' time - reading a book together, or just having a quiet chat for a few minutes before going to sleep. Debriefing is important for kids!

3. Self-talk. This is for the Grumpy Old Man and me! Remembering to tell ourselves that he is experiencing all the challenging things for him. This is a phase. We will get through this. Losing your temper never helps. Wait until he's in bed, and then treat yourself - a long hot shower, download a favourite tv show or movie, eat chocolate if you have to! This is just another opportunity to teach resilience, by modelling it.

So, that's the plan... Get through the upheaval of the trip and of swimming, and before we know it, it'll be Christmas, and... D'oh - Christmas is not at all overstimulating, right?

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