Life With A Fidgety Child: My Kid Never Stops Moving


My youngest son helped me put together a bathroom cabinet that had exactly a million pieces last night. He doesn’t read the directions; he is not overwhelmed by this stuff like I am. He unwraps everything, sorts the pieces (he has to sort the pieces), then he gets to work.

“We can figure it out, Mom,” he reassures me as he quickly looks at the pictures, picks up a few pieces from his piles, feels them, studies each one, then begins putting the cabinet together. He constantly cracks his knuckles as he pauses to think about what he needs to do next. It’s his latest habit. Before that he would pinch his neck, leaving dark bruises. Before that, he sucked his fingers with one hand and played with his privates with the other — we’ve come a long way — so I don’t mind the constant cracking.

He saved my sanity once again by helping me put this monster together. I should not be allowed to buy anything with the “some assembly required” warning on the box, but I do it anyway when I fall in love with a piece of furniture online because I know he will help me, and he enjoys it. Together we have built a desk, a dresser, two cabinets, and a chair (with only minimal swearing on my part).

This boy, he amazes me every day with his quick wit and sense of humor. He is caring and so smart, but oh my lord, he is constantly moving. Constantly. And sometimes, it drives me bonkers, and I have to bite my tongue.

His teachers have helped me tremendously. They were they ones who approached me and said he needed movement in order to learn to his full potential. They gave him a big, bouncy ball to sit on in class. The students are also allowed to chew gum in class now, and they provide “fidgets,” also known as stress balls, so that the kids have a way to move and exert energy without creating a disruption. It has helped my son a great deal to have the support of his teachers, but it has also helped me too. He still needs a daily reminder to try to stay focused, but as he has grown, his impulse control has gotten stronger, and I owe so much to the teachers who helped me understand my son was not just being a brat — he has a difficult time controlling his urges to move. So I have taken what they taught me and implemented it at home as well, and it has made a huge difference.

If I take him to a sporting event — something we do all the time because his older siblings play — he dreads it. Sitting there for a few hours just watching something happen is torture for him. We never leave the house without a stress ball, gum, and a book. He still has to squirm a bit, but he chomps down on his gum and squeezes that ball like his life depends on it. Wearing a coat seems to help him too. He says it makes him feel comfortable and warm. It obviously has a calming effect on him, and sometimes he even wears his winter coat to bed.

If we go to the movies, even one he has been dying to see, he still needs a fidget to keep his hands busy along with his snack. I watch him stare at the screen in a daze while he goes to town squeezing the ball. The times we forget it, I can see how much harder it is for him to get comfortable, settle in, and enjoy himself, even if it is something he has been looking forward to.

Long car rides when he was younger used to be total hell until I figured out he needs some way to move while strapped into his seat.

While doing his homework, he sometimes has to walk around or swivel on the stool at our kitchen island in order to get it done. He loves sitting on the big bouncy balls too.

I know now that a lot of kids are fidgety, and just because my son needs to do things differently than his older siblings, who have no problem sitting still, doesn’t mean he is a “bad” kid. All children need movement — they crave twisting and turning their bodies. They love to roll down hills, climb on things, run, jump, and dance. My son is just needs more than most kids.

If you have a fidgety child who never sits still, you know how stressful it can be. I feel horrible that sometimes his squirming takes me to a bad place because I know he cannot help it. It doesn’t matter if he has been on his bike for hours or played 10 games of tag — the kid just needs to move his body around while he is awake.

Memory and movement are linked. My son learns better by doing than he does through reflection, and I need to be patient and allow him to learn in his own way. And the bonus here is I will always have a little helper when I make an impulse purchase at IKEA.