Sometimes toddlers seem to have only two speeds: turbocharged and asleep. Their effortless ability to shift between the two makes adults envious, as little ones often recharge their batteries with only a quick nap. When toddlers become overstimulated, however, their high energy levels can drive them until they're bouncing off the walls. Sometimes parents need to help toddlers calm themselves down before someone pokes an eye out.
Use Words and Actions
Give your toddler a warning that uses both words and actions when his behavior becomes too hyperactive. "Rule number one is that the adult needs to be calm. Kneel down to the child's level and lower your voice. Speak slower and lower," says Lea Keating, founder of Sensory Street Kids, a Bohemia, N.Y. early-childhood program that uses sensory play to build speech and social skills. Use a hand signal, such as making a stop sign with your hand, and a soft tone to remind your toddler to calm his body.
If your toddler is so excited that he's practically spinning like a top, help him channel his energy into a productive activity. "Give a few gentle squeezes to the upper arms and suggest that you do an activity together," suggests Keating. "Choose an activity that involves heavy work." Direct your toddler to stomp like an elephant or walk around the room like a crab to relieve energy. Parents can even try "filling a laundry basket with heavy books and letting the child push and pull the basket around," says Keating.
Play Calming Music
Establish a calmer mood in the room with music. "Playing calming music is a great way to lower energy," says Keating. Music helps toddlers regulate their emotions. Just like lullabies can calm a crying baby, soft music can help toddlers calm their bodies, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Blowing bubbles can also have a calming effect on toddlers. "Let your toddler follow and pop the bubbles, and then give them a turn trying to blow the bubbles," recommends Keating. As kids take a deep breath to blow the bubble, they are practicing deep breathing, which encourages relaxation, writes Victoria Tennant on the John Hopkins University School of Education website. Teaching your toddler to blow bubbles slowly and carefully can help calm his mind, body and emotions.
Encourage a Break
Unless they become destructive or aggressive, kids don't necessarily need a time-out just because they're hyper. However, they can benefit from a break from stimulation. Create a cozy space for your toddler with pillows or a child-size chair, recommends the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Stock the area with books or other quiet-time activities. Say, "I think you need a break to calm down," and direct him to the reading nook.
Try a Warm Bath
Many of the same things that help adults unwind can calm toddlers. When all else fails, "a nice warm bath while playing with shaving cream works wonders for calming down all the senses," suggests Keating. Let your toddler rub, squish and swirl the shaving cream around the tub as he soaks in the warm water, and it will relax him quickly.
Keep Hyperactivity from Happening
Toddlers are usually pretty active by nature, and you certainly don't want to try and stifle an appropriate level of activity. However, parents can keep toddlers from becoming unnecessarily hyperactive by encouraging healthy sleep habits. Kids become hyper when they don't get enough rest reports The Nemours Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of children. Keep a consistent schedule to help your child learn to recognize when it's time to sleep and when it's time to play.