5 Ways to Calm High-Energy Kids


thought this was an interesting tidbit. According to experts, sugar doesn’t
necessarily make kids hyperactive, contrary to popular belief. Many
studies have been done on the subject. In one, researchers split
the parents of kids ages 5 to 7 into two groups. One group was told
that their kids had been given a sugary drink, and the other group
was told that their kids had enjoyed a sugar-free drink. In
reality, all the kids were given sugar-free beverages, but the
parents who were told their kids would be experiencing a sugar rush
reported higher levels of hyperactive behavior.

On the flip side, in another experiment kids
were given sugary snacks, and parents were told that the kids had
enjoyed sugar-free snacks. Despite the sugar rush, parents didn’t
seem to notice a change in their kids’ behavior because they hadn’t
been told about the sugar. In a nutshell, the parents convinced
themselves to believe that their kids were energetic due to the
sugar. The researchers called it a “self-fulfilling prophecy.”

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The experts say the science backs them up.
Sugar does lead to an increase in blood glucose levels, but most
normal, healthy people wouldn’t notice a boost.

That may be good news for parents who took
their kids to church trunk-or-treats and fall fests last night!

No matter what kind of snacks we give our
kids, sometimes they are just wild. It seems kids share energy, and
it only takes one to start fidgeting before the whole class follows
suit. Even when sessions are filled with active learning
experiences, sometimes you just have to stop and drain some of that
extra energy. Here are five quick and easy activities to use when
your class needs a timeout to let loose, and then get back to being


When your students are too antsy to pay
attention to the lesson and are difficult to control, get the
wiggles out with this seasonal activity. Form two groups: the
Flowers and the Butterflies. Have all the children scatter around
the room. Have the children crouch down and cover their heads with
their arms. The Flowers will pretend they’re seeds underground, and
the Butterflies will pretend they’re in cocoons. When you call out
“Spring’s here!” have the Flowers pretend to pop up out of the
ground and the Butterflies pretend to pop out of their cocoons.

As soon as they pop up, the Butterflies chase
the Flowers, flapping their arms like wings. When a Butterfly tags
a Flower, the Flower becomes a Butterfly and chases the other
Flowers. When all the Flowers have been tagged, call out “Fall’s
here!” Have the Butterflies crouch down and cover their heads with
their arms to get ready for the cold winter.

Then say: Now let’s get ready for the rest of
our lesson.


Here’s another way to get the wiggles out:
 with a trip to Jerusalem. Explain to the children that in
Bible times, people traveled to Jerusalem several times each year
to worship God in the Temple.

Have the children follow your directions as
they walk around the room in a large circle.

Say: The worshippers walked quickly because
they were excited to go to Jerusalem. (Pause.)

There were many hills and valleys. Walk on
your tiptoes to show you’re going over a hill. (Pause.) Now squat
down as you walk to show you’re going into a valley. (Pause.) Here
comes another hill-walk on your tiptoes. (Pause.) Here comes
another valley-squat while you walk. (Pause.)

Oh no! You have a rock in your sandal. Sit
down, take off your sandal, shake it out, and put it back on.

The sun is so hot-wipe the sweat off your
forehead. (Pause.)

Wouldn’t a cool drink taste good? Look!
There’s a well. Stop by the well, and drop the bucket inside.
(Pause.) Pull up the bucket, and take a long drink out of it.

We’d better get back on the road. (Pause.)
Look! I see the gates of Jerusalem up ahead. Let’s walk more
quickly to the city! (Pause.)

Now I see the Temple! Isn’t it beautiful?
Let’s tiptoe there and get ready to worship quietly. (Pause.)

Now let’s go back to our lesson.


Take a journey to the Promised Land or to
Egypt to get rid of some energy!

Designate one end of the room as Egypt and the
opposite end as the Promised Land.

Say: When I call out “Egypt,” run toward
Egypt. When I call out “Promised Land,” run toward the Promised
Land. When I call out “Gather manna,” drop to the floor and pretend
you’re gathering food into a basket.

Play the game for two or three minutes,
calling out the three commands in any order. Then say: Now let’s
get ready for the rest of our lesson.


Play a suspenseful listening game to help get
out some wiggles!

Say: The leaders of the faith we’re learning
about had one thing in common: They all listened and obeyed God’s
directions. Let’s play a game about listening.

Have children form two teams, the Beetles and
the Beavers. Have the teams line up on starting lines at opposite
sides of the room, facing each other.

When you give a signal, the two teams will
slowly creep toward each other. Meanwhile, you’ll begin to randomly
call out a team’s name. The members of the team whose name you call
will be allowed to instantly turn back and walk to the safety of
their starting line as members of the other team try to tag them.
Those who are tagged are out of the game. But you will suddenly
develop a hesitation in speech and will call out “Bee…Bee…Bee” as
often as you choose before deciding to say “Beetles” or “Beavers.”
If you choose, you can actually let the groups creep very near each
other before calling out a name, building suspense and sharpening
listening skills all the while.


Try a game of Prayer Volleyball to let kids
move around as they call out places they can pray.

Before this activity, blow up and tie off a
balloon. Place a masking tape line across the center of the floor.
Have children form two teams, one on either side of the line.

Say: God hears our prayers, no matter where we
pray. Let’s use this balloon to play Prayer Volleyball. Bop the
balloon back and forth across the line. Each time you bop the
balloon, call out somewhere you can pray, such as in bed, on the
school bus, or at the park.

For extra fun, have children name praying
places that begin with certain letters of the alphabet, or have
them bop the balloon using only their heads, knees, or elbows.


Each of these activities-what we call fidget
busters-was taken from our Hands-On
Bible Curriculum
. Fidget busters give leaders a chance to stop
the lesson and let kids work out their wiggles before continuing on
the day’s Bible point.

One final thought: your volunteers like to
fidget, too. At your next meeting, bring a box of fidget busters
into the room (including small items like stress balls, for
example). Adults can work out their wiggles by playing with the
small toys, and still listen to what you have to say.

We want to hear from you! Do you give your
kids sugar? Ever had kids so energetic you had to stop your lesson
completely? What do you do to get kids back on track? Let us know
in the comment section below.

5 Ways to Calm High-Energy Kids
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About Author

David Jennings

David has served kids around the world for the majority of his life. From Texas to Romania, he has followed where God has led him. Most recently, he served for six years as a children's director in the great state of Alabama before moving to Colorado to work for Group as an associate editor. He is now serving in the church again! Our loss is kids' gain!


  1. Children's Ministry Magazine
    Helmut Egesa Wagabi on

    The hints provided in the article are quite helpful.
    Another way of containing hyperactive behaviour among children would be information on the solemnity of worship even in the Sunday School classes. Our God is holy and all-knowing. He is loving but not a joker

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