How to direct a little boy’s energy

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You know this boy.  You leave him in a tidy room and under two minutes everything is dumped out and scattered to the farthest reaches of the house.  If there’s something to be climbed, broken, thrown, pushed or lifted, consider it done by this guy.  You’ve found him on top of your full-size fridge at 12 months old, and at the top of a big kid playground walking along the handrail (12 ft up) thinking about jumping!  (at 18 months old).

What do you do to maintain sanity and keep him safe?  This is what has been working for us.

1. Get fresh air every single day.  We aim for 1 hour in the morning, and one hour in the afternoon.

2. Have a rainy day area, we have left a part of our unfinished basement open for running around.  We keep mini hockey nets, soccer balls, ride on cars, a climbing house down there.

3. A trampoline has been amazing for this guy.  If he’s getting wound up we give him a “long turn”, fifteen or so minutes later, he’s back to normal.  Side note: Daddy has also started doing push ups with him when he has a little extra energy, works like a charm.

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4. Look for opportunities everywhere you go.  Visiting someone that has a big hill or big open spaces?  Have “races” to see how fast he can run up and down the hill.  Our little guy will do this for hours.  Make sure little guys have lots of physical outlets, especially if you’re expecting him to sit for any extended period of time.

5. Have him be your little helper.  Our little guy knows if daddy’s not home, he’s in charge of lifting everything heavy, delivery boxes, or big toys.

6. Digging holes.  This may sound strange, but getting the little guy to focus his energy to dig a big hole, then fill it up provides loads of fun for him.

7. Friends of ours with a bunch of energetic boys 6 and under, have installed monkey bars and some hanging bars, with gymnastic mats underneath.  We’re looking into this for a year or two down the road.

8. Give him some heavier chores, like taking out the trash (with your help if too little), pushing in the chairs and sweeping after meals, and carrying up laundry (we have smaller bins for him).

9. Balance bikes are amazing for busy 18 month – 3 year olds.  These have no pedals, and little guys burn a ton of energy keeping up with dad or older friends.

10. We work on building self control every day, this is a work in progress.  We ask the kids to sit in their seats with one toy, without wiggling for increasing amounts of time.  We also try to talk about self control through stories we read.  (I’m happy to recommend a few kids books if you’re interested).

I love the energy that this little boy brings to each day.  Before getting frustrated with his jumping and wiggling, I try to apply a wise woman’s advice to me, picture him as a full grown man.  Teach him the good things he can do with this gift of energy he’s been given.

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