Little Boy Energy

Ah how I love little boys! Especially mischievous, wild, naughty little boys. Such exuberance for life! Do we really want them to be sitting quietly and calmly instead of taking the world by storm?

A punch on the arm means, “Hi, come play!”  Another little boy understands this completely, while a little girl may think, “He’s so mean.”

Boys get dirty. Don’t stop them! Let them jump in puddles, wrestle on the ground, scramble under fences, hunt bugs, dig holes, make tracks. Don’t say, “Look at those pants!  How am I gonna wash that?!”  Instead say “Looks like you’ve been having fun!”  Remember, play clothes are PLAY clothes!

Little boys have a crazy amount of energy. (Energy, of course, does not only belong to little boys. The most energetic and fun family I know actually consists of five daughters.) It’s not bad to have a lot of energy–it’s GOOD!  But raising these energetic little ones requires serious tactical planning. I often ask, “What are we going to do today to release energy?”  I know that if the plan is school, homework, shopping, and television, I have a recipe for trouble.

There is a new term for cooped up kids–“container children.” Kept in containers like car seats, strollers, bike seats, and computer chairs where they are NOT moving and using energy. I will often see little ones at parks strapped into strollers because they are easier to watch. They are contained.

Television and computers often keep boys quiet (and they may claim to enjoy these activities), but that suppressed energy is still there and will show itself in ways I don’t like. I’ve learned if they don’t release energy in healthy ways,  it will show itself in the form of arguing, yelling, bouncing off the walls, or not sleeping.

Here are some great ways I’ve discovered for helping little boys to exert some of that rambunctious energy:

Energy Exertion Exercises!
A trampoline. So much energy in one spot.
A swimming pool–lots of calorie burning there!
A hill and anything with wheels–up and down, up and down.
A dog that chases sticks.
Another little boy to chase.
A tree to climb.
A rope ladder hooked onto a wall, a fence, a tree, or thrown over a steep hill.

Some Really Crazy Fun!
A mound of garden soil. We let our boys ride over it, slide down it, make tracks and roads for matchbox cars, make really great mud, and dig caves. They had so much fun I delayed the gardening so they could enjoy it longer.

Straw Bales (to use later as mulch).  Four bales with a piece of cardboard made endless cubby house combinations.  As the bales started to fall apart, we put the hay in the small space between the house and the fence and let them spread it out into a deep pile.  Then they tunneled under it, jumped off ladders into it and made “nests.”

Our friends have a small outdoor fire cauldron so their boys can build a fire and roast marshmallows.  Sounds like a great idea to me!

Then there’s pets. Yes, they are smelly and messy, but the play value is very high.

Indoor Fun!
Climb inside sleeping bags and slither down the stairs.

Make a big pile of pillows, doonas, or stuffed animals and let him run, jump, and dive.  Hold a rope above the pile and make him jump over it. Each time hold the rope a little higher.

Fly paper airplanes out a second story window and race down to get them–up and down, up and down.

We put a fire pole in our house.  Weird, yes, but oh so useful.

If you can provide fun at home OFTEN, your little boys will be happier and far easier to manage. Their energy is spent (well, maybe just slightly used), and they feel less pent up, less aggressive, more cooperative, more physically ABLE to do those things grownups think little boys should do, such as sitting down and doing homework.  The next time your little boy hits the top of the energy-o-meter, have fun with him and teach him how to use that energy!

QUESTION: Do you know a little boy or girl who could use an energy outlet?

CHALLENGE: Put your rambunctious little one to the challenge! Choose two “Energy Exertion” ideas to try, and see how the energy outlet improves behavior.

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  1. Jessie says

    Great post, this is something that I needed to read today. I’ve got a three year old boy with LOTS of energy and I know some days he doesn’t get to expend enough. He has a really hard time taking naps + being obedient…but I’m struggling thinking of enough INDOOR energy exertion activities. The winter months are setting in!!

  2. Emily says

    Jessie, I just read your post, and I understand your concern about trying to figure out indoor ways to help kids exert their energy during the winter months. I have three little boys, and when I was expecting my third son, who was born in the winter, my husband and I bought an inflatable bounce house to put in our basement to give my other two sons, ages 4 and 2 at the time, an indoor outlet for their energy OTHER than jumping off of my couches or their beds or swinging from their blind cords. :) It worked WONDERS for giving them a way to get their energy out in a safe way that also allowed me to stay sane! I’m not saying it’s for everyone, but I thought I’d mention it as an option, as I know how tough it is to help little energetic kiddos figure out how to release that energy in a safe way inside during the winter months.

  3. Elsje says

    Lisa, thanks for the great reminder that my boys just need to be outside playing sometimes! It’s so easy to fill their schedules with homework, music practice, and organized sports. But sometimes all they really need is to just be exploring little bodies in the back yard. I loved all your great examples of ways they can use their energy.

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