You probably know if your child is hyperactive. That incessant moving and dearth of grace could not go un-noticed, even if you tried. Chances are that you’ve cursed the hyperactivity hailing it as a cause for your child’s occasional sickness, social difficultly, broken arm and even the disorganized state of your house. You’ve prayed that the law of inertia “One’s something is set in motion, is stays in motion till an external force is applied” is not true!
You have seen many of these to be true about your little firecracker –
- He cannot sit still and is constantly fidgeting
- He trips or falls more than other children
- May not be able to keep his attention on things which are not important to him
- Complains about loud noises and strong smells
- Refuses to wear itchy fabrics or clothes with labels touching skin
- Loses functional things like erasers, water bottles etc.
- Cannot structure his time or organize his belongings well
- Is not very concerned about his own appearance or presentation
- Tends to have dry skin
- Does not sleep as well or as much as you would like him to
- Seems to have a hard time melting into your hug or cuddling with ease
- Needs to use the restroom more often than you think possible
There is a great chance that he also has a very creative mind and a splendid sense of humor. Often, he may surprise you with his intelligence and natural understanding of complex nuances in his environment.
Depending on the degree of hyperactivity or possibly attention deficit, he may up for ADHD/ADD screening. But what does this all really mean?
Put on the Ayurvedic Glasses
Ayurveda attributes the whole range, starting from mild hyperactivity to severe ADHD as a simple imbalance. It is amazing that Ayurvedic Sanskrit texts dated in the 800AD stated clearly all the signs and solutions for this type of an imbalance, more than a 1000 years before Sir George Still helped the new world re-discover such a phenomenon.
Understanding the Imbalance
From the Ayurvedic perspective,human bodies are made up of the five elements which exist in unequal proportions. Each element (Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Ether) has physical as well as psychological functions and manifestations.
For example, the main function of the element of Fire is metabolism (energy to convert) and distinct physical manifestation is seen in every cell as well as distinctly in the liver and digestive system. Psychologically, the element of fire makes you more focussed but also more angry when its in excess.
The main principle of Ayurveda is that Like increases Like. So when you exercise and generate more heat (Fire), you speed up your metabolism.
When any element exists in disproportionate amounts, it is capable of causing imbalance in the body and mind.
The hyperactive child is simply one with increased proportions of the elements of Wind and Ether in his body. The main function of Wind is movement of any kind including motor and nerve impulses. Light and mobile, wind in the mind is reflected as volatile, active thoughts and creativity.
For those who understand the terminology, such a situation is called “Vata Prakop.” (Aggravation of Vata). This element of wind has the capability to create significant havoc in the nervous system of the Vata child.
The nervous system is the messenger for our brain. It communicates information from the 5 senses to the command center (brain) and relays back to the senses, what needs to happen. If the skin feels a bump, the nervous system generates electrical impulses to takes the information to the brain to be evaluated and the brain may then decide whether its itchy or painful and what happens next. This process is common for all the 5 senses.
Just as we protect electrical wires with thin plastic tubing, our nervous system is also protected with bodily fluids, tissue and muscle. They keep in check the receptivity of the sensory inputs and speed of nervous impulses. This protection slows and dilutes stimuli felt by the nervous system to keep it from over-reacting.
The Vata child has a nervous system that is lacking in the aforementioned protection. Their system is akin electrical wiring with an uneven and flimsy plastic covering. The system thus becomes very sensitive to any stimulus and can even produce a shock.
This translates into exaggerated interpretations. Slight pressure on the bladder means an urgent need to pee, insignificant events can lead to great anxiety and even minute touch can feel annoying.
The nervous system tries to read every impulse from the environment and demands appropriate action.
The result is a hyper child who is constantly moving and reacting, almost uncomfortable in his own skin.
What not to do with this child-in-motion?
Most parents fail to understand their Vata child and may resort to yelling, punishing orto therapy and medication. While counseling may be very beneficial,medication does not need to be the first resort. Medication lowers the function of the nervous system and leaves it numb, also shutting up the genius in our Active child. And yelling and punishing make the system even more unhappy.
A better solution is to balance the effects of the volatile air and ether elements with nourishment and grounding. (Ayurvedically, elements of water and earth)
When the Wind is channelized and cushioned, these children grow up to be the great inventors and creators of the world.
Lets get Started!
That hyperactivity can be tamed and grounded with a simple three-pronged approach. This includes some shifts in Lifestyle, changes in the Environment, and Accessorizing their life with certain activities.
When your hyperactive child is still young and you still have some power to call the shots, make some important changes or additions to his lifestyle. When a habit is inculcated in childhood, it becomes a natural part of the value system. Here are some things that work to ground nourish.
Sleep – Sleep is very important as it is the only time when that active nervous system gets its rest. Two nights of compromised sleep and the third day will present you with a child even more restless, fidgety and whiny. Encourage early bedtimes even though you may feel like you child has a lot of energy. The energy could be a result of the inability to tune in to the needs of the body and underlying tiredness making the body more hyper.
Only Cooked and Warm Food – Warm and cooked foods are the most nourishing for us warm-blooded creatures. When raw or cold foods are eaten, heat and fluids from your body and nervous system are utilized to convert that food in your belly while still struggling to maintain the standard 98.7F body temperature. This makes an already vulnerable system even more sensitive and depleted. No good for the Vata child.
Additionally, ghee, DHA (Omega 3 and 6) and good fats are particularly good for coating the nervous system of the Vata child.
Listen to that Hunger- A hyperactive child may be unable to tune into his hunger or may be busy with other things. But hunger can create havoc in his system. The wild wind in his tummy will become even more volatile unless some of those grounding foods can settle it down.
Routine – These children benefit greatly from a systematic routine. A consistent routine is akin to meditation. It puts the nervous system in a comfortable place as there aren’t unexpected events or red flags when you do the same thing every day. Most Eastern traditions lay great emphasis on routine for this reason.
This is the easiest change to make as it requires the least amount of involvement on the part of the child. Here are some ideas that may bring grounding elements to his space.
Classical music – Is capable of producing serotonin, the mood balancing hormone that releases tension and eases the nervous system. I find this one to be an effortless no-brainer. If classical music annoys your active Vata child, play it in another room. His nervous system will still pick it up. Another idea is playing it while your child is sleeping.
Aromatherapy – Take advantage of those active senses by giving them the right inputs. Calming scents (essential oils) like lavender or grounding scents like cedar wood can help the muscles to relax and cushion the nervous system.
Hugs and Cuddles – Cuddling a constantly moving child may not be easy but its essential. Human touch is important to even out their nervous impulses and slow down some of that frantic energy. Besides, it also releases the cuddle hormone, oxytocin. Oxytocin increases the feeling of bonding which can help in lowering anxiety and insecurity.
Accessorize His Life with Certain practices
This requires your child to be directly involved and he may not always cooperate. Even if you can check off one or two of these three, you are likely to achieve some stillness.
Massage – If they are willing, encourage oil massages. It does not have to be an hour long spa massage but even simply oiling and gently massaging for 5-10 minutes can really help. Massaging with oil improves blood circulation, coats the nervous system, creates calm, grounding and warmth in the body. It makes the crazy wind settle down.
Dance – Dance not only adds grace to your “Rough on the Edges” child but it also promotes emotional, social, cognitive and physical integration of the individual. Besides, it is particularly effective in releasing endorphins that keep you feeling happy!
Om – It may be hard to get an active child to meditate or deep breathe, but you can make him a deal if he agrees to Om. The world has finally come to agreement that the sound of Om is capable of producing certain brain wave frequency changes that are capable of creating increased awareness, calm, focus and grounding. Every time your kids get start a challenging task, encourage them to close their eyes and say Om three times. As they emerge out of their Oms, they have more clarity and calm to take on the task at hand.
But Most Important!
Being accepted by their parents for their uniqueness is very important for these sensitive children.
When you start thinking nourishment, steadiness, grounding, rooting, calming in every contribution you make in the life of your hyper child, your upbringing will begin to work and the Vata Aggravation will be gone with the wind!