Hyperactive Child

Dear Sara,

I have a two-year-old son and I now know what “terrible twos” means. He has temper tantrums if he doesn’t get his way. He is into everything if I don’t watch him constantly. He will pull everything out of the drawers or cabinets if I don’t catch him first and he can’t be trusted in the yard because the minute I turn my back he is down the street. I want to take him to the park but I am afraid he will run off and I won’t be able to find him. His attention span is very short so he’s hard to keep occupied. The only time I have a break is nap time. How do I cope with this constant activity?

Dear Abigail,

The first thing you need to do is ignore his temper tantrums. If your son gets his way by having them they will surely continue. You are rewarding him for being bad if you let him have his way. He will eventually learn that his tantrums won’t work.

He needs one room that is baby proof and has gates to keep him in. It can be a place where you can read or watch television while he plays but you won’t have to pay constant attention to him.

Your son needs to be outside when weather permits to use up some of that energy. If you can’t have a fenced yard you might consider a harness to keep him safe.

This isn’t unusual behavior for a two-year-old but if it continues you might want to have him evaluated for hyperactivity. There are meds for this and may be necessary to help him concentrate in school.


  1. Carolyn says:

    I had 6 kid each 2 years apart, Enjoy this time with him. House work can wait until he naps. Play and explore with him. He is very busy learning about his world. I can remember laying on my stomach with my toddlers and watching ants carry a large load and we talked about that. My kids remember me as always being there to talk to and caring about what they had to say. Not one of my kids remember what color their rooms were or if their bedspread matched their curtains. But they do remember our time together. That is the most important thing you can give them. And I did have 3 kids that were hyperactive and they never out grew it, but they are all doing very well as adults and most of them are in supervisory positions

  2. Hi Ladies:

    I am 85 years old and my ex-wife and I raised four children. Because of a lot of illnesses in us all, in our early marriage, I decided to take care of our family by doing massive research into natural ways to stay healthy. To keep a long story short, what parents feed their children, DEFINITLY effects their conduct. Junk food opens the door to very serious problems, mentally, physically and spiritually. Here are some links you can start with, but there are hundreds more.

    Regards, Donald


  3. Dear Abigail,

    You have a normal two year old that is
    just curious. There are companies that will
    offer special latches to keep little fingers out
    of where they don’t belong. For example; electrical outlets need to be covered, cabinet
    latches, toilet seat latches, specific draw latches,
    to keep your precious toddler from unintentionally getting hurt by being curious.
    You need to do this room for room. Also make sure any dressers you have are weighted down
    so they don’t topple over if he tries to pull himself up holding onto it. A stairway gate or some type
    of gate needs to be installed on any stairways
    so your baby doesn’t tumble down. Also covers for bathtubs so he doesn’t scald himself if he
    tried to turn the knobs. I had a playpen for
    my kids which they couldn’t climb out of but
    they could safely play in for short periods of
    time and I could get a shower in or do some
    quick tasks around the house spot checking
    on them. The cabinets need to be latched if
    you have any household cleaners in them. He
    is mobile and will get at things very easily
    now. Many of these gadgets provide peace
    of mind in helping to protect your child. A temper
    tantrum is going to take place . I have had
    it happen in the supermarket. Nothing a box
    of children’s animal crackers couldn’t fix. It’s
    all a learning process for your toddler now.

  4. Sue Anne Weiser says:

    I agree with the safety info in the comment above. But shelves, armoires, bookcases need to be attached to a wall. Weighting isn’t enough. A friend’s very light weight son climbed the armoire and the drawers started sliding out so it all fell forward on him. Our son wore overalls quite a bit so we could scoop and grab easily. The harnesses they have now is better than a lost child. light up shoes, alarm for the doors. I had Christmas bells on our door knobs. I had locks on the toilet seat after my oldest went in head first. It also helps to do a lot of turning activities like if they were walking a labyrinth (not a maze) the turns helps them focus. We used to walk and copy me as I took a few steps made a right turn more steps turn more steps turn, Singing, anything you want memorized: verses, abcs, address, phone number, spell name etc. Later when in school spelling words, math facts, etc. Act out a story; grab a dust cloth & let him follow; Small vacuum; grab a toy; dump it in a bin along the way. You get stuff done he gets your attn. Keep turning.

  5. My parents never had locks on doors or bells. We got only a couple of swats on the behind and we learned quickly apparently not to do those things. Two year olds are not stupid. They understand if I do thus, I get that. Tantrums are the result of giving in. My dad never spanked us, and mom only said she probably only had to resort yo that two or three times tops. We grew up well behaved, respectful and did very well in school. I only had to give my children a swat on the behind once or twice. They didn’t throw tantrums, they behaved in school and grew up well adjusted. My son was very hyper like many children. Hyper doesn’t mean they can’t behave. I’m pretty sure 95% of this ADD and ADHD is merely a result of not teaching your children firm limits. I know Dr Spock popularized the current ideas of child rearing, but his son killed himself at 20. If the person I’m taking child rearing advice from has that awful of an outcome with their own child, I’ll stick with tried and true ways. You may be your child’s best friend, but you first and foremost have to teach him to respect your rules and the property of others. I’m not seeing the new ways creating well adjusted kuds.

  6. I am beginning to wonder if anyone reads the bible anymore. Need I explain the passage in Proverbs 13:24 which reads, “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” I see what you ladies have written, but do not understand the lackadaisical approach with regard to corporal punishment, and then I see and understand what the Word of God has to say about the child – I think the bible is correct. An unruly disobedient child must be corrected with enforced humility if he is to grow up mentally, spiritually and respectfully.

    The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Pr 13:24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

  7. Jonathan Ray says:

    Several or so years ago, mental health providers discarded Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) as a term from their lexicon and lingua franca, and as a diagnosis from their textbooks, manuals, journals, guides and guidelines and so forth, and is now sticking strictly with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

    I believe that was totally the wrong thing to do, because there are many children, teens and adults who truly have attention deficits because of ADD without being hyperactive. I believe it was the American Psychiatric Association (APA) who did the discarding and basically coerced its member providers to follow suit. I’m not sure about that, though; haven’t researched it yet. But however it happened, ADD needs seriously to be reinstated into the broader lexicography and general discussion.

    Even though the mother didn’t explicitly say this, it seemed to me like that her son just might have ADHD.

    Yes, I realize that 2 year olds (at least usually) are in to (or even into) everything, making a big mess, being (seemingly) disobedient and wreaking havoc (whether generally or specifically) without ADD/ADHD. But a lot of those children never (seemingly) grow out of being “terrible” (a (holy) terror). They either hang onto that attitude and behavior as it is or they adjust (or modify) it to suit their needs as they age and go along in life. And they most likely don’t have ADD or ADHD.

    Thankfully there are a lot who do grow out that attitude and behavior, either making the adjusments (modifications) out of it themselves and/or having the adjusments (modifications) made for them.

    Then there are plenty of children on the other extreme end of the spectrum for whatever reason/s that are calm, cool & collected, unfussy, nonpicky, nonchalant etc. That doesn’t mean, though, that they’re not interested in anything. They may or may not be interested in anything. If they are, it’s probably just that they prefer to be curious in a different way and to a different degree than the boy in the post.

    Anyway, IMO, as I mentioned before, he just might have ADHD. And very little if any discipline, punishment, rule making and meting and dictation and structuring is going to help or change that… at least not long-term. But rules do need to be set up and enforced and penalties (consequences, however you want to think of it) need to be attached, and meted out as necessary. And he needs to follow the rules or else he just may get disciplined or punished. And, whether or not any child is afflicted with ADD or ADHD, a lot of them (no matter their age, yes even at 2 years old) are going to test patience, boundaries, rules, structure etc for whatever reason/s

    Don’t misunderstand me, because IMO he does need discipline to be meted out and to follow the rules, but it’s going to take time, love, patience, suffering* (if not long-suffering*,) mistakes to be made, accidents to occur, lessons to be learned the hard way and on in that vein)) things to happen.’ They all are a part of living and life and were not just only human but imperfect mortals, too.

    But let’s allow his mom and dad, along with professionals, figure out what is best for him instead of we flat out telling them what to do and not do, especially since she sought Sara’s advice, not ours. Yes, we can advise, suggest, recommend or whatever, but to flat out tell her what to do since the mom didn’t seek our advice, much less have us tell her what to do, is especially wrong.

    Besides rule following, it very well could be that he needs professional help from a highly qualified and trained child mental health provider (social worker, LCSW, psychologist and/or psychiatrist etc) who is patient & willing to work with and dedicated wholeheartedly to helping the child along with having a good ‘bedside’ manner, an understanding and an appreciation of his situation and circumstances among other considerations.

    So, let’s leave the good folks alone so they may focus on helping their son. Thanks.

    *Suffering, besides meaning “being in pain, agony, discomfort”, also means ‘Let, allow, permit’ as in ‘Suffer (let) me [to] pass this way,’ ‘Suffer (allow) me [to] assist you’ and ‘Suffer (permit) me [to] enter in.’

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