How Early Childhood Care and Education Deal With Hyperactivity

Posted on May 15 2024 Categories: , ,

Younger children get excited and can struggle to control their emotions. That’s perfectly normal and a typically charming part of childhood growth and development.

However, in early childhood care and education, hyperactivity in children is sometimes witnessed or at least suspected.

Early childhood care and education – Children Have Energy

The amount of energy preschool-age children appear to have can be surprising and intimidating to adults. Some parents and care providers envy them!

This energy is often expended in intensive periods of frantic play or other related activities. It is also often followed closely by a ‘crash’ in energy levels, requiring sleep or a quiet time to allow the child to recharge their batteries.

Most professional providers of early childhood care and education services will ensure that time is allowed in the day for children to burn off that energy in a controlled and productive fashion. The schedule will alternate between quiet activities and those that permit or even encourage those energy outbursts!

This is all routine and allowing time to run off energy is essential for healthy childhood development.

Sometimes, a child will struggle to move away from high levels of energy-output behaviours. This is referred to as “hyperactivity”.

Hyperactivity – what it means

This term is frequently misused in everyday use, often incorrectly used to describe children who are only more energetic than others.

In medical terms, hyperactivity is one strand of ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). Contrary to some mythology, the symptoms do not necessarily include children always running about in an uncontrolled fashion or asking to do so. More commonly, the visible symptoms of hyperactivity include:
fidgeting when seated;

  • seemingly non-conscious body movements (tapping of fingers on desks, shaking of legs while seated);
  • difficulties in playing quietly (constant raising of voice);
  • hyper verbosity (unable to stop speaking, interjecting constantly when others are doing so, difficulty in speaking concisely, answering questions addressed to others);
  • intruding into the games of other children (or their work) even if with good intent;
  • extreme impatience (unable to await a turn or to queue in an orderly fashion).

Despite the caveat above, some symptoms of hyperactivity may include children being unable to stop running around and climbing things etc.


If left untreated, hyperactivity may negatively impact some aspects of a child’s development and education. Hyperactive children may also disrupt other children’s play or work.


There is a very significant difference between a child who is, at times, unusually energetic and a diagnosis of hyperactivity disorder.

Typically, specialists will look at:

  • the consistency and severity of symptoms;
  • the frequency of their occurrence;
  • whether the child appears to be capable of controlling or moderating their behaviours when prompted.

Only a qualified medical or child development specialist can diagnose this condition. The earliest age for such diagnoses is around 4 though it may be suspected in younger children.

Causes and treatment

The causes of hyperactivity in children remain, broadly speaking, unknown.

Genetics may play a part, as may some injuries. Some medical conditions may cause hyperactivity as a symptom but this is uncommon.

It is typically not possible to identify a specific cause in most cases.

Fortunately, there are treatment options available that can help although there is no definitive cure. Those options include behavioural therapies and sometimes, medication.

A doctor’s opinion is the first stage in the diagnostic and treatment cycle.