He’s not “spirited”, he’s a little sh*t 309



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My four-year-old grandson has a little friend called Jak who lives nearby and visits often – as I do, meaning our visits often coincide. Jak’s mum, and my daughter often describe Jak as “spirited”… but I can think of plenty of different adjectives to describe the boy.

Am I becoming a grumpy old grandma? It’s possible. Perhaps my tolerance has gone down, or I can only remember how my small children were perfect angels (ahem).

Or perhaps children just aren’t expected to be “restrained by rules” any more or, in terms of ye olde days, polite.

Let me describe a typical visit and then you can tell me if I’m expecting too much.

When Jak comes to visit, it is entirely typical to find him climbing on the back of the couch, emptying kitchen cupboards and upending the dog bowl. Usually within 30 seconds of bursting through the front door.

While these behaviours would earn my grandson stern words and a stint in the “thinking corner” (don’t ask), Jak is cajoled with gentle cooing sounds to “be a good boy” and find something else to do.

As the mothers pick up all the magnets that have been swept off the fridge by the little terror, I stay close to make sure no animals are hurt. Within moments, the latest Lego creation has been destroyed, the sheets removed from the children’s beds and the dog has fled.

Satisfied with the chaos he has created (for now), the child will march into the kitchen, interrupt his mother speaking and demand food. If he dares refuse, Jak will cock his head to one side, narrow his eyes and scream until something is produced.

At this stage the mothers, one bewildered, the other a little embarrassed, will retreat to the front room for tea and a chat; the children follow for the biscuits, which have to be gluten, dairy, nut and sugar-free as Jak has allergies.

For the next 15 minutes, he will disseminate crumbs, spill milk and break anything within arms reach. Every time the grown-ups try to talk, he will interrupt with “mu-um, mu-um” pitched at just the right tone to cause you to physically recoil from the sound.

Eventually, the mother of the child will implore him to “go play”, which makes me think of that scene in Mary Poppins when the household staff prepare for the boom of the cannon that shakes the ornaments and sends the piano rolling across the room.

A crash, shatter or wail of pain usually signals that it’s time for the play date to come to an end. Some feeble attempts are made at trying to encourage the children to clean up their mess, but mercifully, they take their leave pretty quickly.

Somewhat shell-shocked, my daughter and I will survey the trail of destruction and, as hard as I try, I simply cannot bite my tongue.

“That child is the work of the devil,” I mutter.

“Oh no Mum,” says my daughter wearily. “He’s just high spirited”.

Have you ever encountered a “spirited” child? Do you think little kids get away with too much these days?


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  1. Haven’t we all known a kid like that! Definitely not high spirited, just disrespectful and too used to getting their own way

  2. Yep…..he’s a little shit!!!!!!! It’s not the kids fault though! He obviously has been allowed to get away with it! What’s the saying “Not bad children, just bad parenting!!!!!

  3. Spirited bullshit. A very undisciplined naughty child. The parents need to go to parenting classes. He would never be welcome in my home.

  4. My old man would of said ” this kid needs a circuit breaker” …….. what he really meant was a good old smack on the arse and grounded for 2 days .

    4 REPLY
  5. How easy it is to criticise without understanding the many many reasons why a child will display unwelcome behaviour!
    Children react to many different triggers, foods, medication, problems within their homes etc.
    In these cases, ” no ” will not work, however there are always ways and means to lesson the impact on others!
    I had a daughter who behaved extremely well until she consumed highly coloured sugary drinks or lollies, it was. Very much a case of a ” Jekyll and Hide” transformation! As these effects were not accepted by medical practitioners at that time ( 1980’s ) even our dear friend and family doctor would laugh it off until he saw the dramatic change first hand! My husband and I worked very hard to avoid the effects by restricting her contact with the reactive products!
    When our son was born, he was hyperactive, talked at ninety miles an hour, and moved the same way, we were careful with his diet but we found the only way to cope, was to restrict our social interaction, most people just looked at him as being deliberately naughty! Both children always looked much older than their biological age, and consequently were always targeted as being to blame when the same age but younger looking group misbehaved!
    Both have grown into decent young people, with a great work ethic! Both still have to be diet careful to obviate the effects of ongoing allergies!
    I understand it is difficult to cope with rampant and ” naughty” children, but perhaps it is wise to remember that it is rarely their own fault!

    ” the highest form of intelligence, is to observe without judgement!”

    4 REPLY
    • Yes I agree. If the child is only four there must be some underlying reason for this anti social behaviour. It can be investigated. To criticise and call him a brat isn’t helping. However I’d be firm with the mother about destruction in my home.

    • However, as you say, you restricted their diets and social interaction. You worked at dealing with the issue.
      Too many parents today simply say that the rest of the world can deal with it. So they allow their children to disrupt the lives of others while they just look away.
      Go to any shopping centre food court and see how many children are running around disrupting other diners whilst their parents sit playing games on their phones.

    • This child is displaying much more than just naughty behaviour. As a teacher I see all types of behaviour and this is beyond “spirited”. Definitely needs to be assessed for ADHD and even ASD.

    • I agree with much of what is said, and especially that boundaries, also discipline are very important, but first check out the underlying causes as there are many hidden ones!
      Discipline is a heated subject for many I know, personally I am not in favour of corporal punishment for many reasons! I think today parents have the most wonderful of options that are potentially more effective! Technology! Children are born with technology at their fingertips ( literally and figuratively ) I doubt any child would be happy with having their electronic and social media toys taken from them!
      In my day it was banishment to the chook shed! We did not have any chickens at the time but the shed was dirty, it had wire mesh so at no time could they not see us,or feel shut in, but as they both hated being dirty and somewhat scared of potential creepy crawlies, it worked a treat to calm normal but too loud sibling fighting or other infractions of the known boundaries!
      I also believe many children today are simply given far too much, by the time they are at high school they have already experienced almost everything, there is not much mystery left to explore or discover!
      It develops an unnecessary sense of entitlement which may not be deserved or earned! The ever present media plays a large role in that, but ultimately the parent has to shoulder some blame, we are all somewhat guilty of replacing our time with ” things” !! We don’t need fifty bedrooms and endless toilets, ultra expensive toys clothes and the latest of every form of technology, we do need the PRESENCE of each other!

  6. Kids need parameters…they need to know how far they can go. Kids without don’t know how to stop. Manners are rarely taught these days and the magic words, please and thank you, are rarely heard.

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