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Hyperactivity in children

Q: My son is now 3 and a half years old. He is basically intelligent and very affectionate towards me. We were amazed by the way he picked up the things (like opposites of words, animals, baby animals, Jigsaw puzzles upto 60 pieces, alphabets etc). Now the things have totally changed, especially for the past couple of months. He does not listen to either of us for anything, most of the times, right from brushing his teeth to taking bath to taking food etc, unless we threaten him with some punishment . He is also very hyperactive. Nowadays he even lost the interest of learning which he used to have a lot about 8 months back. He generally does not do anything on his own unless somebody accompanies him. He lacks concentration and he does not possess any kind of leadership in the sense that he does whatever the other kid does instead of thinking and doing something on his own. He even repeats things which a 1 year old baby used to do. He is afraid of going alone or staying alone in the hall even for 10 seconds during day time also. He questions a lot and he used to ask the same question for which he knows the answer also. He speaks continuously on something or the other. He does not play softly with the toys but at the same time he has not broken any of his toys, may be we are very cautious. He is slowly becoming adamant. He loves playing with balls like football but unfortunately he developed wheezing due to which he could not play as he develops wheezing when he runs for some time which is forcing him to stay at home. He is going to school (Montessori) since he was two years old. He does not have many friends also. I am observing that he lacks the basic courtesy like saying excuse me, sorry, etc. When he was born we were at Gujarat till he was 1 year old, after which we shifted to Bombay till he turned 2 and a half and we shifted to Bangalore after that and we were in Bangalore till he was 3 years and three months before shifting to US on an assignment. He does not have any siblings. My wife is a house wife only. He always wants me to do everything for him which most of time I used to do. Previously he loved to go to school but after we came to the US he does not want to go to school but we are somehow managing to send him to the school. The report from the teacher of the school is that he disturbs (helps) others rather than doing his job. He generally play with the toys for a very short period of time before losing interest in the toys totally in a couple of days. He seems to enjoy when something falls down or when you miss your target while doing something with a hammer, etc - he used to laugh. Kindly tell me what measures we should take to bring him up as a very good child. I am worried about his behaviour. For the past one and half month he is under medication (Inhalation steroid) for his wheezing which makes him more hyperactive.

A:Your childs problem seems more behavioural than physiological. You have not mentioned whether the hyperactivity has been clinically diagnosed or not. If it is, then the correct medication along with behavioural therapy by a child psychologist needs to be given.
There seem to be a lot of factors that may be contributing to your sons apparent hyperactivity and unrest. You have mentioned that this behaviour is of recent origin. This could mean that your son is not taking the frequent moving from one place to another very well, which is a normal phenomenon since this change does not allow the child to settle down in one place. He may not be able to make friends because of the constant fear that you might move again. Children, especially of this age, need stability and continuity to feel secure in an environment. Shifting to a new country warrants all sorts of adjustments, even in seemingly minor things like language, accent and routine activities like going to the market. Since the child feels threatened in such an environment because all of his earlier notions about things that he took for granted are being altered, he may show his emotions in many different ways - defiance being one of them, fear being another. There is nothing to get unduly worried about since in most cases this is a temporary phase and the child begins to grow at his earlier pace as he gets used to his surroundings. The regression and imitation that your son shows is just his way of making sense of the world that he sees around him. As soon as he feels capable of handling a situation on his own, he will revert back to the bank of knowledge that he has. In the meantime, instead of expecting too much out of him, be patient and gentle. Try and make the home enviroenment as loving and unchanged from earlier as possible. Give in to the childs legitimate demands to make him feel secure. For example, though most 4 year old children can sleep by themselves in a separate cot, if your son seems hesitant to do so, there is no harm in making him sleep in the same bed till he feels comfortable sleeping alone. Talk to him often and listen to what he has to say. Punishment and threats are not very good ways of making a child comply with your demands. Do not be overbearing towards him by expecting him to accomplish everything at the earliest. Just give the child some time and he will be okay.

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