The tiredness myth

Today I’m going to be a bit controversial. Possibly I may p*ss a few people off. But I strongly believe it, so I’m just going to put it out there. I don’t believe in the whole tiredness myth. There, I said it.

Kids get tired for sure. So do adults. But tiredness should never be an excuse for bad behaviour. Bad behaviour is bad behaviour and should be punished.

If your kids are tired and it is causing them to behave badly, do something about it! Put them to bed early (yeah, I know, easier said than done), get them up later, don’t over-schedule them with karate and music lessons and tutoring and don’t take them to Legoland on a Sunday and expect them to be up bright eyed and bushy-tailed for school on Monday. It’s not rocket science.

I’ll hold my hands up and say my kids behave badly. They behave badly at home and they behave badly in public. And if they behave badly, I tell them off. If it’s particularly bad there will be consequences such as lost pocket money or a ban from the computer or DS. You will never catch me turning to the nearest adult and saying with a little smile and slightly sad voice ‘he’s just so TIRED’.

Going back a few years, my son was attacked on a weekly basis by a boy the same age. Every time, his mum just looked at me and said ‘He’s so TIRED’ as if that somehow made it OK. Neither the mum nor the child ever apologised to my son (who always ended up in tears) or myself. Remarkably, it seemed to escape the mum’s attention that her son was doing this every single week. But you can sure as hell bet it didn’t escape my attention. When I couldn’t take any more I started to use that other old chestnut ‘busy’ to get out of seeing them so often and eventually opted out altogether.

The run-up to Christmas is traditionally a very tiring time for kids. All the nativities and school activities start to take their toll. Kids, parents, and no doubt teachers, are counting down the days to the holidays, when everyone can relax, get up a bit later and take it easy. There’s just a week to go. We can all hang on in there and make it through.

And my kids are starting to demonstrate traditional tired behaviour. But I’m not taking any nonsense from them and they can get some decent sleep this weekend and get over it. Over the last few days we have had lots of irrational tears, sometimes out of the blue for seemingly no reason at all.

Topping the tears chart is more daughter. She is a complete perfectionist and un-used to failure. Yesterday we had tears about a dance trophy or rosette she hoped to win – even though she’d been warned she might not win it and there are plenty more opportunities to win it in the future. She didn’t have a tantrum – just silent tears which rolled down her cheeks in a way that broke my heart. She has only ever seen two things on her school report – As and 1s. On her school report today there were some Bs and some 2s. She asked what they meant. I said they meant she was very good. But she felt it wasn’t good enough – more silent tears. The most irrational of all was because they’d watched Polar Express on DVD at school, ironically because the children are so tired and need a break. My daughter has watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at the cinema, but Polar Express frightened her. I just mentioned it and she burst into floods of tears and said she hated it. The tears continued for some time and we are never allowed to mention that film again.

My younger son has been in floods about a Beaver trophy he hasn’t won and thinks he will now never win. The tears came out of nowhere – it wasn’t even Beavers day. He just got up in the morning and started crying. What can you do?

My eldest hasn’t cried. He’s demonstrated his tiredness by saying he feels ill and standing by the toilet at 10.30pm insisting he is going to be sick. Then he went to bed, slept all night, got up, ate his breakfast, went to school and has been fine ever since.

But when one of my kids feels ill, guess who can’t sleep? Try as I might I couldn’t drop off. It was 2am before I fell asleep. But I promise I won’t have a tantrum, burst into tears for nothing or hit anyone, because it’s no excuse.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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