Q: My 5-year-old son as been referred to as “spirited.” He’s very active and loves to play outside, and isn’t good at following directions. I’m not sure how to keep him occupied and out of trouble after school and on the weekends.
A: Children come into the world with different temperaments. Some kids are on the go all of the time, while others are cautious and happy to sit and observe. Knowing your child’s behavioral style (and your own) can help you plan.
Direct high energy into fun and creative activities. Set up the environment, inside and outside, so your son can use his energy to build forts, work with clay, play ball, or dance around the house. High energy kids might want to help with chores like raking leaves or sweeping. Plan frequent trips to regional parks for hikes, BART rides when it’s raining, or if you can’t get outdoors, put up a tent in the living room – make-up stories and act them out.
Sleep and healthy meals make a difference. Make sure your child gets enough sleep. When active children don’t sleep well, they tend to get irritable. Reduce stimulating activities as bedtime approaches; a consistent bedtime routine really does help. Plan for a good breakfast, and frequent healthy snacks with some protein for those days when you are on the go.
Keep thinking about your child’s strengths, and help him find things he’s passionate about doing. Spirited kids often grow up to be passionate successful adults.
Best of luck,
Nurse Rona is the host of Childhood Matters radio show, a nurse for 44 years, a temperament specialist, a parent educator, and mother of four. To hear previous shows, go to www.childhoodmatters.org, and tune in Sundays 7-8AM on 98.1 KISSFM. Rona is available for Yelling Less and Temperament consultations and workshops at your home, school, or mother’s group. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.