Kids can have a lot of energy - and for some it can seem to keep resurfacing, even after seemingly strenuous activities. Why do kids have so much energy? Interestingly enough, there are scientific reasons behind this, and we have some great ways to help them release some of this never-ending stamina.
Why Do Kids Have So Much Energy?
At some point in your parenting career, you'll probably wonder how it's possible that such a small being can be so incredibly energized. The answer is surprisingly simple.
The World Is Exciting
First, everything in this world is exciting and new. They want to explore and absorb everything they can.
Think about something that excites you. Then, consider how much energy you can muster when you get to enjoy this pastime. Science shows that when we are nervous, excited, or happy, we experience an adrenaline rush that gives us energy. Kids get excited over the littlest things, which leads to more surges of this energy hormone.
They Recover Better Than Adults
The second reason kids seem to have an overflowing reservoir of energy is that their bodies work differently than that of adults. Prior to puberty, kids recover from high-intensity activities more effectively than experienced endurance athletes do. Yes, you read that right.
Studies also show that they fatigue less during exercise. This makes it hard on exhausted parents who are already trying to juggle multiple tasks and now have to compete with the next Usain Bolt.
They Have No Outlet to Release This Energy
Without a way to use up this excitement, energetic kids tend to become a bit difficult to handle. Unfortunately, while physical activity can make a dent in their energy levels, the only way to truly calm them down is to work out their brains as well. This can help to relieve feelings of intrigue, anxiety, excitement, and boredom. Why does addressing these feelings matter? Each child experiences the world uniquely, and addressing both the mental and physical aspects can help channel their energy in a positive way.
Every Child Is Unique
Every human being has a different personality and a varying view of the world. This makes some people more curious and some more easily stressed. It also makes some kids seem more energetic. The reason for these differences can stem from genetics and environment, traumatic situations, a lack of boundaries, or even conditions like Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Kids have different personalities and energy levels just like adults. If you have multiple children, their energy levels can be very different, too.
No matter what the reason may be for your kid's hyperactivity, it is important to recognize the emotions that they are feeling and help them find effective methods for calming down.
Simple Ways to Wear Out High-Energy Kids
Did you know that a child's brain uses nearly 50 percent of their energy reserves? What this means is that you need to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to tiring out your toddlers or kids of any age! You want them to be active throughout the day, but you also need to engage their minds at the same time. Here are some fun options to try.
Active Brain Games for Families
Mental fatigue leads to physical fatigue. Why not double up and engage both your child's body and mind at the same time? These group games require your kids to think, strategize, and move. This makes them the perfect tools for wearing them out.
- Scavenger Hunts: Take a hike, head out in the backyard, or run errands. You can turn any activity into a scavenger hunt, so make lists or use a blank printable scavenger hunt sheet of things to find for all of your weekly activities.
- Simon Says: This game requires your kids to focus, listen, and move simultaneously. The competition that comes with it is simply a bonus!
- Charades: Yet another classic game that involves quick thinking and movement! Best of all, these charades ideas will keep them busy for hours!
- Obstacle Courses: These are a fantastic tool for making your kids strategize their route, problem solve as obstacles arise, and even work muscles that normally remain unused. For the little athletes in your family, you can also partake in soccer and football drills to get the same result. Give them a list of exercises to complete in a certain amount of time.
Cat in The Hat I Can Do That! Kids Activity Game: Draw a card and find out your next challenge! This is a funny board game that works toddler's minds and muscles.
Funny Animal Races: Yet another thinking game, have your little ones race, but not run. Instead, they will draw an animal from a hat and then they have to get to the finish line by speedily walking in the way this creature normally move. For instance, you can hop like a frog, walk like a crab, slide like a snake, or shimmy like a seal!
Secret Agent Laser Game: Grab some masking tape and toilet paper or birthday streamers, and find a hallway. Tape the strips of streamers or paper across the space in a zig-zag pattern and then see who can get through the maze of 'lasers' the fastest without touching anything. This is another wonderful problem solving game.
Activities to Challenge Kids They Can Do by Themselves
Looking for solo activities to tire them out? These mind games require minimal prep and give parents a bit of reprieve.
Win It In a Minute: What can your kids accomplish in 60 seconds? These little games require a lot of concentration! Have them:
Put as many cheerios as they can on wooden barbecue skewers.
Sort the bag of Skittles into matching colored bags.
Push a potato across the room using only their nose.
Race from start to finish while balancing an egg on a spoon.
You can come up with so many options and all the supplies are in your home. Have them complete 10 to 15 challenges in a row to determine the reigning minute-task champion.
- Body-Brain Teasers: Another great way to channel their energy is to try and trick their mind. Challenge them to complete these seemingly simple tasks.
- Pat their head while rubbing their belly five times. Then, switch arms and repeat.
- Bring their thumb to their pinky and then to their index finger. Next, they bring their thumb to their ring finger and then to their middle finger. Do it five times fast and then try it in reverse!
- Draw a circle with each hand, but in opposite directions. Try this ten times.
- Use your right hand to draw a six and simultaneously move your right foot in a clockwise motion. Bet they can't even make it to five without messing up!
Sensory Actvities: When you stimulate your senses, you engage your mind! Fidget toys, sensory jars, and color matching games that feature objects of different shapes and sizes will all stimulate the mind and keep your kid's hands busy
Other Brain Games and Activities to Try
Sometimes, exercise is not an option. What is a parent to do if they're on a road trip or stuck at the doctor's office with an energetic toddler or young kid? Brain busters are a fantastic way to wear out their busy little minds!
- Puzzles - All types of puzzles can stimulate kids minds and focus their energy.
- Logic Games - These can develop kids' critical thinking skills and challenge their brains.
- Rubik's Cube - A simple solo activity that works their brains.
- Sudoku - This number puzzle game can be fun for the whole family or for kids alone.
- Tetris - Get them to think strategically and have fun with a physical or online game of Tetris.
- Colorku - This Sudoku-inspired color game stimulates kids' senses and minds.
- Tangrams - Get them to slow down and use creative thinking with these wooden puzzles.
- Wooden Geoboards - Challenge their visual, fine motor, and other skills.
- Trivia - Trivia is a classic way to engage the mind that's great for the whole family.
- Riddles - Riddles are another classic that kids love.
- Tongue Twisters - Kids mouths and minds will get a workout!
Tips for Toddlers
For toddlers, there are also entertaining tasks all around you! Make your little one a part of your shopping experience. How many bananas did mommy put in the cart? What color is that spinach? What type of cookie should we get? These simple questions make them think, which keeps them stimulated throughout the excursion.
Strategies to Help High-Energy Kids Calm Down
For the kids who can't seem to slow down to even try these tasks, calming activities can be a great option to try. Here are some of the great options:
- Change your scenery - Going outside is a great calming technique, but if you always send your kids in the backyard, they may not get the most out of this exercise. So, head on an outdoor adventure to the park or an area lake to take a walk and play an active brain game while you are there.
- Shrink your space - If there's a lot going on, simplify the situation. Build a pillow fort in the living room and offer to read a story, do a puzzle, or play a game like I Spy while inside.
- Play discovery hour - Kids are curious creatures. Sometimes, the best way to calm them is to simply indulge in their eagerness to learn. Play 20 questions and implement active listening while you engage with them. This can help to lower anxieties, solve their boredom, and answer their intrigue.
Don't know the answers? Another way to play this a discovery game is to use your Alexa Dot or Echo. Not only can you both learn something, but you can hear her amusing answers and get a laugh in as well!
Why Do Toddlers Have So Much Energy at Night?
While all of these activities are great at helping you tucker out your kids throughout the day, if your toddler is stereotypically more hyper at night, there might only be one solution. They may not getting enough sleep throughout the day, so you'll need to alter their sleep schedule. When kids get overtired, their bodies create cortisol and adrenaline to help keep them up. This can lead to hyper streaks and then epic meltdowns before bed.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children ages one through two need 11 to 14 hours of sleep and preschool-age kids from three to five need 10 to 13 hours each day. These recommendations include nap times. If your child is not getting enough rest, think about changing up their sleep schedule and routine. This can help to diminish the instance of high-energy kids who were already active throughout the day.
Keep High-Energy Kids in Check by Setting Expectations Early
High-energy kids can be a lot to handle. Thankfully, by working their bodies and brains, you can more effectively wear them out. The final factor to remember is that kids thrive on schedules and surprises can turn into stressors.
Thus, give them a heads up on the plans for the day. Plan to engage in active brain games and activities before and after periods where you need them to focus. This can help them harness their energy in a constructive way. Lastly, let them know your expectations about behavior prior to your arrival to certain location. Then, emphasize that more fun will be had after the less exciting task is over.