How many times do you hear people saying they’ve spent the day trying to tire their little ones out? – That they struggle to tire their children out or that they feel their children have endless energy?
Maybe you feel this about your own children?
I’m certainly in this camp. I’ve said so any times that my children seem to have heaps of energy and I find it really hard to wear them out so they will sleep.
This is the case for all the children but in particular our five year old.
The thing I’ve come to realise is that the children are all quite ‘spirited’ children. Spirited children can be strong-willed or stubborn even, they are fiercely determined and they want what they want.
Parents of spirited children don’t sleep much. You can try all the sleep strategies in the world and none of them work. Spirited children are too busy to sleep, they consider sleep to be boring and their agendas are far too packed to include sleep. In the life of a spirited child, 3 am is a perfectly acceptable time to begin a construction project, start reading a trilogy or plan their future as a scientist, explorer, palaeontologist etc. 5 am, 11.30 pm and 1.30 am are equally acceptable.
Spirited children can throw tantrums of epic proportion, to the point where you may have to apologise to the neighbours. They want to do everything for themselves, they don’t need help from you in any way – if you try to help prepare for resistance.
Spirited children can convince a whole supermarket of people that you are in fact stealing them!
If you are the proud parent of a child like this, you will have no doubt have been offered tons of ‘advice’ from those around you. Perhaps they need more fresh air? Perhaps they should have less sugar? Perhaps you should use time out? Perhaps you should just be a ‘better’ parent full stop?
To suggest these things means that these people have no understanding of the strengths or needs of a spirited child.
The thing is you can’t run it off so to speak. It’s just part of them. Even if you can get them to a point of physical exhaustion their minds still have tons of energy.
Over time I’ve worked out through trial and error really that some of their energy needs to be channelled elsewhere to improve their concentration and focus. They are creative children, so one way I’ve done this is by carving out more time for creative activities that channel that side of them.
It’s crazy seeing such energiser bunnies so still but it really seems to help. The best days are the days they spend with a good balance of physical activity and creative activities.
Spirited children are most certainly exhausting. However, a spirited child is also incredibly loving. They give huge unexpected hugs that can literally knock you over. They are perceptive and sensitive and can empathise with other people’s pain or sadness. They are hugely curious and they love to see a task through until the end.
I read something the other day that said spirited children become adults who change the world, if only we can resist the temptation to ‘tame’ the spirit out of them. This has really stuck with me. The fact is, that qualities like persistence, determination, independence, energy and enthusiasm, imagination, vision, hard work and strong convictions are all admirable qualities in adults – why should we feel any differently about children?
I certainly won’t be taming the spirit out of my children.