Preschoolers love being physically active, so it's no wonder that it's often hard to keep them in one place. The solution is to work with their high energy levels. It's important to keep them safe, of course, but give them plenty of chances to be active.
Create an informal activity schedule at home. Rainy days can be difficult, so it might be worth a trip to a museum, indoor playground, or shopping mall so kids can move around. If your child attends childcare or preschool, ask how often the kids go outside and what the class does on bad-weather days.
TV or computer time might interest preschoolers, but these activities do nothing to burn off all that energy. Set limits on screen time because preschoolers may not know when they've had enough TV and computer use.
Preschoolers shouldn't be inactive for more than an hour at a time unless they're sleeping, so it's easy to understand why a lot of screen time isn't a good idea. It can start a pattern of inactivity that could lead to weight problems or inadequate physical fitness.
If you decide to let your child watch TV and/or use the computer, the combined screen time should be less than 2 hours a day. Carefully choose the shows, videos, DVDs, software, and websites your child interacts with. Educational programs and those that encourage kids to exercise or dance are often good choices. Place the computer and TV in a part of the house where you can easily monitor them.
Even though many shows, videos, websites, and computer games are marketed to preschoolers, using the computer and watching TV are not as valuable as other pastimes, such as playing, going outside, talking to a parent, or drawing a picture.
Preschoolers are such movers and shakers that some parents may worry that their child could be hyperactive or have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). In fact, these disorders usually aren't diagnosed in preschoolers because it's normal for them to be active and have shorter attention spans.
As kids get older, more is expected of them, and it is then that it may become clear that a child is less focused, has poorer judgment, or is much more active than others.
If you think overactivity might be a problem for your child, consider these questions:
If your child is very active, try to avoid situations where he or she is forced to sit still for long periods of time. And when sitting is unavoidable, find ways to get your child some activity, such as taking breaks during a long car trip just so your child can run around a bit.
If you're still concerned, talk to your doctor. But the good news is that most preschoolers will become calmer and more focused by the time they reach the early school years.
Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2014
|American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
|What Is ADHD? Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common childhood behavioral disorder, but it can be difficult to diagnose and even harder to understand. Here's information about what to do if your child has ADHD.|
|Introducing Preschoolers to Music Most preschoolers love music, and it does more than entertain. Research shows that kids who are actively involved in music develop important life skills too.|
|Safe Exploring for Preschoolers Kids ages 3-5 have tons of energy and are eager to walk, run, dance, and play. It's a great age for exploration too.|
|Raising a Fit Preschooler Preschoolers have a lot of energy, and the physical skills and coordination to ride a tricycle or chase a butterfly.|
|Story Time for Preschoolers Reading aloud to your preschooler is a great way to encourage learning development and to help prepare your child for independent reading down the line.|
|Motivating Preschoolers to Be Active A preschooler's desire to move, move, move makes this a great time to encourage fitness habits that can last a lifetime.|
|Games for Preschoolers Whether at a party or a play date, preschoolers love to play games. These games can be used for birthday parties, rainy day get-togethers, or anytime you find yourself with a bunch of energetic preschoolers.|
|Should Your Preschooler Play Sports? Team sports can be too complicated for the average preschooler. Here are some fun and easy ways to keep them active.|
|Sleep and Your Preschooler Preschoolers sleep about 11 to 12 hours during each 24-hour period, and it's important to help them develop good habits for getting to sleep.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.