When Is He Allowed To Just Be A Kid?

family0866My son needs and receives a fair amount of help.  He needs interventions that could make a major difference for him in his life.  And I know that early intervention is key.  The earlier he gets the help the sooner we can rewire his brain to function more typically and lesson the gap between him and his peers.

Because he receives support services at school, he is in school full-day while the other children his age only attend for half day.  And because he receives help from various teachers and therapists and gets homework from each of them separately he has considerable homework after school.

He also has speech therapy, occupational therapy, vision therapy, and appointments with neurologists, med checks and more.

And he is not even six yet!

In the middle of the school year, he finally hit his wall.  I think its safe to say that he was officially burnt out.  Done.   He works his butt off and he was tired.  Because even though he has a list of letters labeling him, he is also still a kid.  A boy.  He needs to run and play and be a kid.  He needs to race matchbox cars in the basement and ride his bike around the neighborhood.  He needs to dig for worms and swing on the swing set.  But when?

I’m a huge believer in the importance of good attendance.  Being at school every day is important for learning.  He can’t afford to miss anything.  But he also feels overwhelmed.  Should I let him take a vacation day?  Play hooky and do something for his soul?

His teachers recently suggested that he attend summer school and I agree – it will be good for him.  But doesn’t he also deserve to go to camp and show off the things he is good at?  Running? Sports? Swimming?  Catching bugs, playing in the mud and eating popsicles?

How to find the balance?  How do we, as parents of kids who need lots of extra help, allow them to be kids while still giving them every bit of extra support that will help them?  How do we know when it is too much?  No.  Really, I’m asking.  How do you balance it all?

Kim Clary Cafiero

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.

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academic achievement, adhd and school, adhd and stress, adhd and summer camp, ADHD stress, free time and adhd kid, General ADHD, Kim Clary Cafiero, stress and resilience ·

About the author

Kim is a stay at home mom to two boys. She came to parenthood through adoption and was a teacher and school administrator before taking the plunge to stay home full time. She lives in New Jersey.


  1. Sue S. says:

    That is a lot to throw on a child. My son had private vision therapy when he was six, and OT at school. He burned out on the VT. I had him do too many weeks in a row. Should have limited it to somewhere around 8-12 weeks and then take a break.

    He started with speech and OT when he was 2. As his schedule got quite busy, we flip flopped one week ST, the next week OT (and I worked with him at home).

    Since then, I stagger how much we do, therapy wise. Because he has academics homework, with a heavy emphasis on reading (he’s dyslexic, so that’s torture), these days we only do one therapy or extra help type stuff during the school week. This past year, it’s been working with a dyslexia tutor. Last year it was working with a physical therapist who specializes in sensory processing (my son has SPD). We completely took last summer off- no therapies, no school work, just play. But this summer, my son will be working with his dyslexia tutor 2 times a week because he’ll be in 5th grade, and his poor reading is causing problems in all areas of study. I wish he had even one subject that wasn’t reading intensive. No art or music classes at his school.

    As important as it is for your child to get various therapies, I think it’s more important to decide what’s a comfortable balance for him. Playing is a form of therapy, and when these kids are young, they need it like they need to breathe. At my son’s IEP meeting yesterday, they talked about when a child needs summer school: when they lose information and go backwards during a short break, such as one or two weeks off. If you want your son to go to camp and feel he also needs summer school, I’d send him to school with the caveat that he’s going to go to camp for X days.

    • CityBabe says:

      Funny you should ask the question. We are about to tell our son he is having a break from formal schooling to do what we call in Australia distance education. (Lessons are set out by teachers but its done at home.) Why? Because he is totally burnt out. He is 11. He is not evenly attending regular therapy. There’s no one we can talk to who understands, who seems to know what he and we are going through. So maybe if all us mums (and dads) follow our gut instincts our kids will be ok??? Oh, and I’m a mum of 3 boys.

  2. Umesh says:

    Thanks for the great explanation . I will save this post to pass on to others who show an interest in this topic

    Best wishes
    Lisa O’Donnell

  3. Jana Logan says:

    Kim, we just had this same discussion with my husband’s best friend, who is a school psychologist. He shared that he sees way too many kids at his elementary and middle school who get stressed-out and give-up because of emotional exhaustion. Some kids then begin to feel that they are ‘dumb’ (even though unbeknownst to them their IQ’s are actually pretty strong). He told us he thinks we should put our son’s ’emotional well being’ over his academic well being and that the academics would follow. He has a bunch of good advice and some kind of upcoming invention for kids at his site (which i forget), but if you google FokusLabs, it should come up. We’re going to take his advice and let our son Glenn enjoy the summer and charge his battery up for September.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Well said or written!


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