As a young child, Gregory was always happy and full of joy and energy. He showed great delight in having conversations with just about anyone, and he always spoke in a loud voice full of excitement.
As his mom, I was not bothered by his chattiness and energy, but it sure annoyed others, especially his teachers. He could not sit still in school and constantly talked in class. He couldn’t focus as long as the other kids could, and he always want to move on to the next thing before it was time.
Greg could run for hours on end without tiring. He jumped from one activity to the other so quickly that other children found him exhausting. They’d go off to find playmates who weren’t quite as frantic.
I didn’t want to tame my son’s eager spirit, but I knew that he needed to release his energy in a more constructive way.
You can imagine what I faced over the summer break, when school was out of session. Gregory would be crawling out of his skin during these long breaks. His two sisters didn’t always share his intensity and need to stay busy. But he loved to be outside, and would dig holes just to see what was under all that dirt. No matter the weather conditions, Greg could find something to explore.
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An Outlet for ADHD Energy
His love of exploring afforded perfect teaching moments, as well as opportunities for him to channel his energy productively. I decided we would have “trip days” twice a week over the summer break. I marked them on the calendar, and told him we would visit special places where he could do some hunting. Together with his sisters, we would stop at the library and take out children’s books related to the day’s excursions. Our destinations were usually the beach or county metro parks.
On our way there, I would ask the kids to try to match what they saw in their environment with the pictures in their books. We would also bring with us play buckets and shovels, a cooler, and a first aid kit, of course.
Once we got to the site, I would let the kids loose. Greg would dig and rake and turn over rocks and leaves. I let him lead. We would come across trees, flowers, and weeds — and I’d identify each one and have the kids repeat after me. I’d read the description from the book I had on hand about the native flora and fauna . Even if it seemed like they weren’t listening, I thought that maybe they would retain some of the information.
Greg would find a frog or a worm and then we would pull out the book and read about it. It would be tallied as a successful find of the day. We would spend at least a couple of hours hunting and sometimes take our finds home with us to show dad.
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The best part of these outdoor trips was that Greg was never expected to focus on any one thing for a long time. I let him tell me when he was ready to move to the next topic. Sometimes it would be a few seconds. But other times he would watch a turtle for 5 minutes at a time, waiting for it to move.
On the way back home, we would stop again at the library and return the books. He was in charge of that also. I made him a part of each process of the adventure.
His friends joined him in some of these adventures, which gave him a chance to play teacher. He was so proud of himself when he could give his buddy interesting information on whatever it was they were observing. Needless to say, my kids loved experiencing these adventures with others. I loved seeing Greg form strong relationships with the friends who came along. Other moms heard about our “hunts,” and these events soon became popular in our circle.
Greg fervently looked forward to trip days, constantly checking on our calendar in anticipation of the next event. Not all of the trips were set in beaches or parks. Some of the hunts were held in our yard and within the neighborhood. Those evenings, we’d spend some time watching short documentaries on what we discovered during the day, although this didn’t interest Greg as much as the hands-on experience.
The trip days and adventures eventually came to an end as Greg grew older and got into sports, which took up lots of his time and energy. Greg is now a young adult who has found a job he loves in maintenance and construction. He definitely will never have an office job, and that’s OK. It’s nice to have a job you do well and love going to every day. His spare time is spent outdoors camping and fishing.
I’d like to think that I helped hone his abilities, but it was Greg who showed me what it was he was good at all along.
Energetic Kid: Next Steps
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Updated on July 13, 2021