Hyperactivity in preschool children in theory and practice

I faced this problem exactly when I got a job as a psychologist in a kindergarten. At first, all the children seemed to me too active, due to the fact that I myself am phlegmatic by temperament, but then I learned to distinguish between pedagogical neglect and hyperactivity. Some children behaved actively and uncontrollably due to the peculiarities of family upbringing and the frequent change of caregiver, and some, even under the control of an experienced and rather strict educator, behave as if they have no self-control at all. Such children do not obey the rules, they do not seem to perceive them, they are very disinhibited, which prevents the teacher from carrying out his work, which greatly discourages the behavior of children in a group, does not allow them to live peacefully in a team of children and obey the peculiarities of the daily routine. They have a very hard time, because teachers think that children are simply “spoiled”, and therefore they are often punished, stand in a corner, and all attention is focused on them. Despite their lack of self-control, self-esteem decreases, and this can cause outbursts of impulsivity – crying, tantrums, or even more disinhibition in behavior. They react to many stressful situations with strong disinhibition. And this again prompts the educators to punish them or even temporarily isolate them from the group. Interestingly, after severe emotional exhaustion, usually after tantrums, hyperactive children calm down. But are these humane methods of dealing with hyperactivity? How can you work with such children and still maintain your mental health? Let’s take a look at these issues. Let’s start with theory.

The acronym ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This syndrome is based on a violation of the balanced work of certain structures of the brain, namely, a delayed maturation of the functions of the frontal regions or a disruption in the work of another important department – the reticular formation, the so-called “filter” responsible for self-control of behavior.

With ADHD, control, that is, the ability of the brain to organize and self-regulate behavior, is impaired.

How can ADHD be diagnosed? For this, the researchers who dealt with this issue identified the following criteria:

– attention disorders, hyperactivity and impulsivity;

– onset of symptoms before the age of 7 years;

– persistence of symptoms for at least 6 months;

– behavioral disorders, while intelligence can be preserved, or it can suffer, which can be seen in speech disorders.

ADHD can be “severe” or “mild.” With a “severe” degree of the child’s parents, it is necessary to refer to a neurologist or psychiatrist, because drug treatment is required, because in such situations, the child’s mental development suffers greatly. But the psychologist must be very careful in communicating this kind of information, because he has no right to make diagnoses. With a “mild” degree, the child needs to work with a psychologist or speech therapist / defectologist if there are problems with speech. You can work individually and in subgroups, but I will write about that later. 

What are the causes of hyperactivity in children? After working with scientific literature and Internet sources, I have identified 3 main reasons:

Genetic problems.

Children and adults with ADHD are prone to abnormal functioning (dysregulation) of certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters and abnormal functioning of neural pathways that regulate behavior. In addition, in some children with ADHD, certain parts of the brain are smaller or less active than in children without ADHD.

Research has also shown that people with ADHD are more likely to have a slower dopamine system (dopamine is an important chemical that carries signals between nerves in the brain and is associated with many functions, including movement, sleep, mood, attention, and learning).

ADHD can be inherited.

Organic damage.

Research shows that women who smoked and drank alcohol during pregnancy have a higher risk of having a baby with ADHD. In addition, ADHD is more common in children who have had a difficult pregnancy for their mothers. Also, the cause can be rapid or difficult childbirth, fetal asphyxia and birth trauma.

Psychosocial problems.

The attitude towards the child in the family, the ways of upbringing, the socio-economic status of the family are not in themselves the causes of ADHD. But often, these factors form the child’s adaptive abilities to the world around them, and they are superimposed on biological causes that provoke the development of ADHD, they are considered artificial food additives, pesticides, lead, neurotoxins.

L.S. He sensitively identified 3 types of hyperactivity:

Combined type, combining strong motor disinhibition, impulsivity and inattention

Hyperactive / impulsive type

Inattentive type.

Now let’s get to the practical point.

Within the framework of the kindergarten, you can work with hyperactive children both individually and in subgroups, which can include normative children.

In the work, it is necessary to take into account the fact that such children have a high working capacity for 5-15 minutes, then they can no longer hold attention and become disinhibited. Over time, you need to increase the operating time.

Children with ADHD may have cortical rhythm disturbances, dysarrhythmias, so rhythmic exercises and a clear daily routine are useful for them.

Techniques for working with children with hyperactivity:

Oculomotor gymnastics, these can be various exercises to work with the development of the child’s attention. He is taught to keep the subject in mind so that in the future he can focus on the lessons at school. Such exercises should be carried out in this way, the child should sit at the table, arms should be folded, legs together, the object is at the level of the bridge of the nose. First, they start with movements to the right and left, up and down, then they draw more complex figures, then you can give the object to the child in his hand so that he himself controls it, then you can change hands, and complicate the exercise so that the child performs it with an open mouth, a bitten tongue to move his eyes and tongue in one direction, then in different directions.

Breathing exercises are also very useful, it is designed so that the child learns to calm down and be able to control his breathing. For example, you can use the “Ball” exercise, the child puts one hand on his stomach, the other on his chest, inhales through his nose and exhales through his mouth. Another good exercise is “Wings”, the child raises the “wings” and inhales and lowers and exhales. Exercises can be made more difficult, for example, add sounds on the exhale or syllables, invite the child to raise his hands while inhaling, lower them on exhalation, etc.

Even for children with ADHD, it is important to develop interhemispheric interaction, here the exercises “Fist-rib-palm”, “Lock”, “Ring” and other similar exercises will help you.

A very big problem for children with hyperactivity disorder is that they do not feel other people next to them due to the large amount of energy in themselves, so it is important to do decentration exercises. Here “Loaf”, “There was a goat in the forest” and “Yablonka” and other round dance games will help you.

Body-oriented therapy and art therapy can be included to help children learn to feel their body:

– exercise “Yoga gymnastics for kids”

– drawing a person in parts, sculpting, laying out from sticks + body-oriented methods

– exercise song “Giraffes have spots”, etc.

In my work I used the program “Working with hyperactive children” by I.L. Artsishevskaya, classes require minimal preparation, children really like games, and in the course of work I saw that hyperactive children decreased impulsiveness and they learned to keep their attention not only on interesting subjects. I can also recommend the book by A.L. Sirotyuk “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”, which describes the diagnosis, correction and practical recommendations for parents and teachers.

And I recommend that educators conduct communication games and games according to the rules in order to develop arbitrariness in children with ADHD, and in order to develop the emotional sphere, such techniques as commenting on cartoons, telling stories and commenting on emotions are well suited. Also, the work can include the methods that were listed above. And try to treat such children with understanding and acceptance, because they are not “spoiled”, they are just special, and if you accept them like that and correctly organize your work, there will be less manifestations of disinhibition and impulsivity, and it will be much more comfortable to work!

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