My 7 yr-old has periods of time, for a while especially in the evening almost every day, where he is just jumping out of his skin with energy. He makes a ton of noise, yelling loudly, usually in a playful way that he thinks is funny (sadly, not the kind of humor an adult would appreciate much, becomes difficult to be around *quickly*) and runs, jumps, flips, usually ends up hurting himself in at least a minor way (hitting his head or elbow on something, etc). It is usually late in the day, so I'm wondering if it's related to being tired/over-tired. He didn't have tantrums at the normal age for it (not when his friends were, anyway), but started much later like a year ago (not super frequently but once or more a week probably). As for the tantrums, I have figured out that food almost always helps a lot, and I've been trying to keep him well fed, particularly right after school. So, I am wondering if he might also be hungry when he has these bursts of energy.
The thing that kinda freaks me out about it is that I feel like he cannot control it. There have been times that I've pleaded with him to calm down and/or be quiter and it seems like he would do it if he was able. Sometimes it will be like I'm asking him to just be calm for a few minutes until we can finish the bath (I can't handle it when he's this way in the bathtub w his 22-mo-old brother, too scarey for me).
Sometimes it feels like the only thing I can do is wait for it to pass. I have shifted now from trying to figure out ways to deal with his behavior to come up with coping mechanisms to just get through it w/o becoming angry at him. I am worried that have been awfully disapproving of a behavior that he has no control over and I don't want him to feel bad about himself.
I would say that these bursts usually don't last as long as an hour and I am pretty certain that it doesn't happen in any other context than with us at home. His teachers are amazed when I say he can be over-the-top energy-wise at home. He has had these bursts at times when we don't have much going on, been in the house for most of the day, and also at times when he has been super busy. He loves school and likes to stay as late as he can (montessori after care) and we often pick him up at school on the way to swimming/karate/soccer and don't get home until 6:30 or 7. So I don't think it can be that he's not busy enough.
Sorry this has been so long!
Jayne, sewing up a storm mama to ds1 9/03, ds2 2/09, and 2 sweet furbabies.
This sounds to me like the over-tired second wind that comes if my kids are late for bedtime. I agree that feeding - especially protein - and then getting him to bed ASAP is going to be your best bet. When my son acts like that, it is tough to get him in bed, but once the lights are off, he is asleep in about two seconds flat.
All 4 of my kids have always had a period, between dinner and bedtime, when they go absolutely nuts... just about the time of day when I want them to have 'quiet time". Its normal in my house, anyway...
Even I get that. I call it "my second wind". Unfortunately, it's always right at bedtime, so I have a hard time falling asleep.
I don't think I'm as obnoxious as a seven year old....but, my husband thinks I am.
I'd say that he is just using up energy that he has had to keep under control during the day.
You say that his teachers can't believe that he acts this way, that, for me, is a sure sign that he is being on his 'best' behaviour all day and needs to let his hair down once he gets home.
I have two boys who are schooled and two girls who are home educated and by boys both had times when they were mad as march hares after school and here in the UK it is widely accepted that all kids will be a bit mad for at least an hour after the end of the school day and need to find strategies to either let this out or find other ways to transition from school to home.
What strikes me as odd about this is that we consider it 'normal' for children to need to do this. If we brought our children home from any other activity and saw that they needed to behave this way in order to re-balance themselves we might start thinking that the activity was to blame and should be avoided in future.
Can you think of any way you can let him be himself and use this energy how he wants to without freaking you out? Boys are not like us and they will do stuff that looks bad to us but they do need to do it even if it means they get a bit bashed and bruised in the process.
I have a 6.5 yo boy, and would have to say that this is totally normal behavior. Things I focus on are daily large-muscle movement (ex. in addition to school recess, karate 2 times per week, soccer weekly, bike riding w/ dad weekly, and lots of play outside after school w/ the neighbor kid), offering lots of healthy snacks and meals, and preventing overstimulation towards the evening (ie. low key, quiet activity like drawing and book reading before bedtime -- no tv/movies/games). Also, my kiddo needs a regular early bedtime every day, or he tends to get wild and active in the evenings.
Boys will bounce around the room like a noisy pinball if they don't get enough exercise, food, and regular sleep.
It sounds like the "reved up" thing described in Raising Your Spirited Child. Essentially it's from being too tired. My ds gets that way, really over the top wired in the evening. It's worse on busy days. More activity makes it worse. Anyway, it isn't so bad these days because he doesn't need as much sleep now that he is 9. But he could still use naps some days when he was 6 and 7 so it was easier for him to become over tired since he didn't generally get or want the opportunity to nap.