Achilles heel

My younger son, usually the most energetic and easy-going of my kids, wilts when faced with cold, hunger or thirst. It hits him like a truck and he goes into a slump which is very hard to drag him out of.

It saps him of his energy, enthusiasm and motivation. He loses all rational thought. All he wants is for it to stop and go away.

As his rugby coach says, ‘cold is his achilles heel’.

His reaction is more severe than any of his team-mates in either rugby or football. And after a very wet winter, it’s something his coaches and team-mates are all too aware of.


It takes the full strength of the adults around him, and his team-mates, to try and drag him out of his slump. But he will resist every step of the way. The intelligent boy, the boy with the energy and the common sense is gone. He can’t see past the cold or the hunger or the thirst. He can’t remember how good it felt last time he conquered it and pushed through and achieved something, how proud he felt of himself. All he can feel is the cold.

He doesn’t believe that he’s hungry or thirsty and that it’s making him emotional and lose his rational thought. I can’t get him to eat or drink. He’s not being awkward, it is a genuine physical and emotional reaction which he seems to have no control over.

All he wants to do is go home.

Does anyone else’s child react in this way? Is it normal? Should I be worried in any way?

You can read about one of his extreme reactions here

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. As a child, I took time to learn to swim because I couldn’t stay in the pool for more than 10 mins before my teeth were chattering and I hunched and shivered. As an adult, I can never miss a meal. I feel weak if five hours pass without eating and my mood plummets. So I empathise with your younger son. Does he wear a ‘skin’ when playing rugby or football? They seem to be great insulators – wish they’d been around when I was a kid. Does he know he’s hungry when he’s at home? A friend has a daughter whose body doesn’t tell her she’s hungry. Her Mum carries around bananas and feeds her them regularly. Could your son be experiencing something similar?

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  2. Thanks very much, both. It’s reassuring to know he’s not the only one. He does wear a skin, Touchline Dad. He knows he’s hungry when he’s at home, but not when he’s doing sport. I need him to learn to recognise he’s going downhill before it happens. He’s doing football all week this week without us watching him, so I hope he can manage the cold and his hunger.

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