My seven-year old is tall, lean, looking and speaking like someone who is a few years her senior. This means people (even those that know her actual age) often have higher expectations of her than they would if she looked and spoke her own age — in terms of ability to sit still, and to move with awareness and grace.

In reality, this is probably one of those areas where she may be a little "behind the curve." I think if she had to be in a "regular" classroom, I'd be getting suggestions to have her evaluated for ADHD. She is constantly on the move, wiggles like crazy, and flits from one location to another (unless she is reading great fantasy fiction or historical fiction or non-fiction). She even moves a lot in her sleep!

Her ability to focus on many things at once (even her reading) is amazing, but her inability to zero in and focus on one specific thing as directed is questionable. Her need to be on the move is also often more pronounced the later into the day it has gotten so things like award dinners etc. are troublesome (I call it shark mode — you know, just keep moving and you won't succumb to sleep).

Of course we are working on awareness of her movements relative to the movements (or location) of others around her, she does attend classes where she works cooperatively and is expected to sit for short stints of time and there is a lot of "stillness" required at the theater where we work — so she does get practice — it is not as though I'm making excuses.

However, today she broke some glass decorations because she was flitting about through the house. Two days ago (it was late at night), while we gathered for hot cocoa after caroling, she decided it would be fun to crawl around under the table while the adults chit-chatted, and yesterday at her Tae Kwon Do end-of-year awards and honors ceremony, she thought it would be fun to run around while food was being served.

I feel I am constantly reminding her what type of movement is appropriate where and when. To others, she often looks like the oldest member of the "running around group" and is sometimes reprimanded more harshly as though she should know better. Since she is particularly sensitve as well, she has noticed this added harshness and that while other kids her age (and sometimes even older) are given a little bit more of a "pass." I am convinced the difference is because she looks so much older than she actually is. Unless she is crazy tired (which I do my best to avoid), she is rarely the only child needing reminders. If anyone had hints or suggestions to make reminders be required a little less often- especially in large group situations—, I'd be much appreciative.

  • this doesn't sound like real ADHD but like the hollywood/media representation. I have a friend that is has been a drummer his entire life, I met him when we were both 7, he constantly taps, bounces his knees and legs and what not, everyone has their thing, not everything is ADHD. I have kids in my cub scout troop, that have real ADHD and that are autistic, this doesn't sound anything like their behavior.
    – user6497
    Commented Jan 15, 2014 at 6:27

3 Answers 3


Try adding more sports to her day.

My daughter is also high energy. Can read for hours, build Legos or draw for long periods of time; but when she's not doing these engaging things, she has to MOVE. If she has not done enough sports that day she will literally bounce off the walls (run to one wall, bounce herself off it, run to the counter, etc.). Telling her to stop works for 30 seconds, but then she starts again. She fiddles with things constantly. (Sitting at the table, she'll unconsciously pick up a pen and start running it along the seam of the table. Or absentmindedly start flipping the milk cap, until it goes spinning off the cereal box onto the floor.)

Is Tai Kwon Do your daughter's only sport? I would suggest it is not enough -- if she's as high energy as mine, she could do more. At seven mine could go from two hours of soccer (game followed by skills practice), to a hockey game, to a baseball game without even slowing down. (No -- I correct myself: when we got the baseball field that day, she actually sat calmly on the bench for the first ten minutes, instead of bouncing off her buddies and climbing the chain link fence. She then pitched an almost perfect inning.) If you add a running sport (soccer, lacrosse, hockey, running) -- or maybe even two running sports -- this will help your daughter with her "need to be on the move," the "gross motor energy," if you will. It really will "get it out of her system."

For what I call "the fiddling" you could get a couple of those plastic balls kids use to develop hand strength. My daughter has one at school and one in the kitchen -- when she starts absentmindedly poking with a knife at the table, I'll take the knife away and hand her the ball. Or teach her to knit (though you might have to wait until she's eight for this not to be too frustrating) or to use gimp, so she can be doing that while she has to sit quietly -- which you should only expect her to be able to do if she's had her sports already that day.

New: Since you've added more detail (about the large groups), I take it that it happened again, so...

Another thing you can try is bring a pack of Uno and/or Skip-bo with you everywhere and hand them to her whenever she's with a group of kids with no organized activities. The first time my kid's hockey team went out to dinner together after a game, they ended up chasing each other around the restaurant (they were 6, 7, and 8 years old). The second time I brought both games, and they all stayed at the table, happy and involved, until the food came over an hour later. After that, I made sure I always had at least one pack in my purse or car, for "emergencies".

  • 2
    I love how you elaborated that you literally meant literally - "run to one wall, bounce herself off it, run to the counter, etc" I can relate having seen many children do this exact thing at various points in my life. She does Tai Kwon Do four times a week, Swimmin one time/week and Tennis 1 -2 times per week with her Dad already. Plus we have a trampoline in the backyard that she uses. I don't think we can add more sports, but it would be a good idea if we weren't already doing so much. Might be able to add more swimming though - it isn't running, but it is cardio. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 14:41
  • For the "fiddling" which she does while reading, I actually have a whole basketful of "fidgets" like I used in my classroom. Some balls like you mention, Silly Puddy, and some Chinese Monk meditation balls (they are FABULOUS!) Another wonderful idea! Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 14:43
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    Yes, swimming works, too. If your daughter's getting 1-2 hours every day of swimming or tennis and she still isn't perfect, then... (surprise!) she isn't perfect. She's only seven. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 15:38
  • Mine still has incidents. For me, the fact that she runs sometimes when she's not supposed to, or breaks things occasionally is no big deal. I consider the high energy problems to be more than balanced out by the high energy pluses, and I expect others to accept that, too (at least until she’s older and has more self control). So she might lead the kids off to find frogs in the stream behind the playground; she’ll also rescue a little kid’s toy from a slushy puddle in the middle of winter. And teachers have told me her enthusiasm for learning is contagious – the whole classroom is energized. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 15:39
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    And... we don’t hang out with people who expect little girls to sit quietly and play with their dolls. Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 15:39

She may be craving sensory input. Our son has similar issues, his brain was just not wired to handle sensory input correctly. He would get overloaded by excessive noise (normal for a classroom) and seek sensory input to self-regulate himself - initially rolling on the floor, chewing things and walking around the class.

We started with an OT with lots of experience in sensory children and have spend over a year now following her recommendations to retrain his brain to be able to correctly handle his sensory requirements. In practice, this involves an exercise regime or heavy lifting, core body strength building, medium impact exercise (trampoline).

It has taken a year and he is now able to control himself in class; he is like a different child. Every day, we spend about 20 minutes doing his exercises. He then gets chewing gum which he is allowed to use in class. During classes, the teacher gives him movement breaks to help his maintain concentration.

We've had an OT and a psychologist both say that he has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). However, developmental pediatrician saying there is no such thing as SPD and he simply has ADHD. That being said, the OT's course of action works for him and his symptoms don't square with ADHD so we're continuing with what works.

From what I understand, you can't turn off ADHD. If you daughter can concentrate for extended periods by reading, ADHD may not be a good diagnosis. There is a dozen things with similar symptoms for example: sleeping problems and a whole bunch more.

It might be worth a google to see if the symptoms match your daughter's behaviour.

  • Hmm. . . interesting thoughts. I have some experience with SPD kids, and never made a connection - I'll look some things up and see if I think it matches. On the turning ADHD off though, I've met quite a few kids with the diagnosis who could focus for long periods on the thing they were most passionately interested in - for my daughter that is fantasy fiction and history and she LOVES to read. She was a little obsessive about letters and rhyming and sounds when she was three and four and now she is a little obsessive about her book time :-) Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 3:35
  • Do you think the ADHD kids who could concentrate were correctly diagnosed with ADHD? I'm neither an expert or a zealot in this, just raising the question. The developmental pediatrician we saw was willing to diagnose our lad with ADHD based upon 10 minutes of him playing in the corner while we chatted.
    – dave
    Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 4:15
  • What's "OT"...? Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 10:09
  • Occupational Therapist. From Wikipedia, occupational therapy is "the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition." Commented Dec 23, 2013 at 12:25
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    @dave Actually, from what I know about AD(H)D, the imbalance in focus is one of its main characteristics. Hyperfocus on something you're interested in, but a complete and utter disability to focus on something you should but do not want to focus on.
    – SQB
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 9:28

Consider making a "calm down jar" for her. It's essentially a homemade snowglobe where you shake it up and watch the glitter fall. While they are often used to calm down angry or frustrated children, you can certainly use one to help calm an energetic child be redirecting her attention to something complex and interesting. There are instructions for making one here:


It won't solve all your issues, but it'll be one more tool you may find yourself using more than you might think.

  • So funny! I used to do that with her - and my preschoolers. Doesn't really work anymore, but I did recently dig up my old meditation balls - she likes the chiming aspect and they work well as a fidget. Now I just need to remember to take them with me places. Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 20:49

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