View Full Version : The "Free Spirit"

08-19-2011, 02:08 PM
What, I asked myself does that mean, when the mom of this child first contacted me and described her 6yo son lovingly as a free spirit? (This is more of a vent of frustration than a question as we had a difficult morning).

I started with him last Sept only afterschool, and right from the get go it was apparent that this kid has endless amounts of energy... my son who at the time was 5 yo immediatly thought he was the best thing since sliced bread. The past year I have learned that this kid is incredibly difficult to calm down, he comes out of school running and screaming at the top of his lungs I'm not even kidding you, every day! My son, who is normaly fairly quiet, and calm, immediatly picked up on this and mimics his behaviour... they feed off eachother and get going so much that it is next to impossible to calm them down. Even on the coldest day in the winter I"m sweating from the stress of walking home with them! I learned that I have to have organized activities for afterschool if I want the free spirit to settle down. I can kinda handle afterschool as its only 2.5 hours but I am at the end of my rope after having to deal with this all day, every day, all summer long (plus I"m preg, hormonal and I'm sure slightly less patient than I normally would be). I cant possibly have organized activities for the 10 hrs that he is with me during the day! Normally during the school year, my son and another little boy play quietly during quiet time, and usually I dont have much of a problem, but since summer started and the free spirit is with us all day there is no sitting quietly ever. The boys know they are not allowed to wrestle at my house and after the last bout of rule breaking wrestling that ended when my son was kicked full on in the stomach (free spirit takes jujitsu and although he denies it was a jujitsu move I still have my suspicions) they are no longer allowed to play on their own in the basement. They destroy it, cannot stay quiet while the others sleep, or follow any of my rules unless I"m sitting on top of them watching their every move. (seriously they are 6 and 7, they should be able to play on their own while I put the younger kids down for a nap and eat my lunch).

The two of them together are loud, hyper, often not very nice to the other kids, and very disrespectful to me when I try to settle them down or discipline them. (free spirit will salute me, or snicker to the other kids, or giggle as I"m disciplining and of course my son has picked this up too). I've spoken to his parents a few times about it and I know they have spoken to him about it but it doesnt seem to have phased him. My own son spends a lot of time in his room these days b/c its the only way I can separate them and get them to calm down. Not really all that fair to my son.... if free spirit had a room here I'd be sending him there too....

The thing that upsets me by far the most is to see the drastic change in my own son when this 'free spirit' shows up at my door in the morning.

Thank goodness there is only 2 weeks left til school starts..... but I already dread next summer...

08-21-2011, 06:03 PM
Oh that is a stressful pickle you are in. :(
Is there any way you can tell the parents you just aren't doing after school care anymore or caring for that particular age group? Do you have a way to get out before you lose your sanity?

I did one after school child last year. The child needed tons of entertainment and food and I was miserable from Sept-June. By May I told the parents I wasn't going to do after school aged kids anymore for the coming school year.

They understood with no hard feelings

I guess it depends on your situation and whether you still want after school at all. I found After School and smaller day care kids to be a stressful combination.

I hope you find a way to make your days more peaceful

08-21-2011, 06:11 PM
I think that I would need, for my own sanity, to cut him and his family loose. The fact that mom calls him a "free spirit" to lighten the seriousness of his behaviour tells me that no matter what you do or say, he will be allowed to do whatever else he wants to do at home.
I am not saying that kids with lots of energy are the problem. When that energy is channeled correctly, you end up with the most precocious, bright and happy kids around. When it is not.... you end up with what you have on your hands.
In the meantime, I would just get hard-butt on him. When it is quiet time, we are QUIET. If that means that he is sequestered in a room with books and puzzles by himself, because he is unable to control himself around the other children; so be it. No wrestling, means NO WRESTLING. What is a consequence that will impact him? For one of my little guys, it's not being able to play with other kids. So if he is not respecting our guidelines, then he is my shadow for the day. He doesn't play with the others and quite literally has to be where I am for the remainder of the day. It is not fun for me, admittedly. But I also don't "entertain" him for that time either, so it's definitely not fun for him. He smartens up pretty quick....
And on another note; make sure you are telling him EXACTLY why he is being reprimanded this way. He is old enough to understand, for sure.

08-23-2011, 06:57 PM
One day during quiet time I got fed up and made FS and my son come upstairs and watch the weather channel with me while I ate my lunch... they were not impressed. But it worked for a few days. I tried assigning quiet activities (ie lego or colouring and my son and FS may not choose the same thing), worked for a day or so, but the minute I go to have my lunch its out the window. When they get going, they get separated in different time out spots and are definatly told why they are there. They are told the rules multiple times every day. I warn them before they get going, ask them to repeat the rule back to me, ask them to tell me what the rule is after they break it and they always tell me... The only thing that seems to cut it down, is not allowing them to play in the playoom without me being there with them but I still have to be on top of them....

Unfortunately this coming year, I have to keep my afterschool kids as I`m expecting in Jan and dont want to have to look after 5 other little ones all day including my newborn. I also want to have the other 2 afterschool kids still as they are exactly the same age as my kids and I still want my kids to benefit from having friends with them until they are both in school full time. I`m sure it will be easier to handle once we are back in school... maybe by next summer they will mature a bit (fingers crossed)?

I am considering once this new baby gets a bit older (and of course if my financial situation will allow) of not offering summer care at all... (not specifically bc of FS, but for other reasons as well) I`ll likely loose some of the afterschool kids but by that point, my kids will both be inschool full time so I can take on teachers children, allow them to have their summers off and their spots back in Sept. and it will give me time with my own kids to do summer stuff with them and not have to worry about entertaining a pack of kids all day every day....

Mabye I just need to get more experiance under my belt and I`ll be able to deal with FS and thoes like him better or have more tricks up my sleeve!! again... fingers crossed!!

08-27-2011, 11:34 AM
Free spirit does not mean he gets to behave like a brat! There are still rules to follow and if he can't then there will be consequenses. If it continues he will find himself sitting quietly by himself or mom and dad will find themselves looking for new care. There should be no reason for your days to be so upsetting, and look what its doing to your ds. If it were me, things would be changing big time!