Understanding hyperactivity

Lots of people are very active. But when it’s time to stop and settle down, they typically manage to put on the brakes.

But some people just can’t keep still. They’re forever fidgeting, playing with things, talking, or in the case of kids, running and shouting, even after they’re told to stop. They’re more than just active. Experts would describe them as hyperactive. 

What is hyperactivity? Hyperactivity is constantly being active in ways that aren’t appropriate for the time or setting. It’s the constant part that makes the big difference. If it happened once or twice, nobody would think much of it.

What causes people to be hyperactive? The first thing to know is that hyperactivity isn’t caused by a lack of discipline or intelligence. Bad parenting doesn’t cause it, either.

Age is an important factor, especially with young kids. It takes time for them to develop the skills they need to keep their behavior in check. And kids don’t all develop at the same rate. One child might have good self-control at age 4 while it takes another until age 6.

But there comes a point where most kids in an age group have similar ability to manage their energy levels and act in an appropriate way. That’s when it becomes clearer that a child is hyperactive.

There can be different reasons for hyperactivity. But a main cause is ADHD, a common condition that results from differences in how the brain develops. For most people with ADHD, hyperactivity doesn’t last into adulthood. But some never lose that need to move.

Dive deeper


Explore related topics

Read next