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View Full Version : Do your kids ever just check out?



hockeymom
10-14-2010, 11:35 AM
Here's the thing. My son has always had a crazy long attention span and is typically interested in absolutely everything from basketball stats to astrophysics. When we study a unit, it is all encompassing: he'll want to read about it, talk about it, study it and obsess over it for weeks without stop. But, every now again he just checks out completely; it's like he's not even here anymore. Doing the smallest thing seems painful and it's impossible to deal with. It's not a homeschooling thing, it's a little quirk of his personality he's always had, but after nearly 8 years I'm still not sure how to deal with it. And now that his education has come into play (and that means the plans I so diligently draw up, of course!), I feel even more pressure for him to "come back" as it were.

Is this normal behavior, and do any of you have any advice? I can't just not "do school" for a week or two until his brain comes back, and we don't have great museums or other educational but out of the house things to do in our area. I *know* I need to lighten up about it, but I'm just having a hard time dealing with it today. It really is a mystery to me.

Any great wisdom or insight out there?

dbmamaz
10-14-2010, 12:43 PM
lol my kids are like that more often than not, i think. you have no idea how lucky you are the MOST of the time, he pays attention. My 7 yo barely does any academics, seriously, because he cant pay attention to anything. I just hope he'll outgrow it. We often end up not doing school for a week until MY brain comes back - this week, I hurt my hip (to the point of laying down straight and watching tv being the most I could accomplish monday and tuesday) and the dog has had 2 blow-outs which involved steam cleaning . . . i'm depressed and I cant get motivated to start.

sorry, no advise.

wild_destiny
10-14-2010, 01:48 PM
No advice, but some hugs and well wishes to both of you awesome moms!! :)

MamaB2C
10-14-2010, 02:31 PM
It sounds like you have a classic intense person on your hands. They go full speed ahead and then have to stop for awhile, from exhaustion, to recharge and process all they took in.

You can either go with it, and allow him those needed breaks, or force him to pace himself ie: Don't let him get obsessive over a topic by requiring he do something completely unrelated (and relaxing or stress free) each and every day of the intense portion of the program.

Busygoddess
10-14-2010, 03:07 PM
I would suggest that you go with it, for the most part. Require one thing be done every day during his 'off' weeks. Once he's comfortable with that, up it to two things, etc. Start off with something easy like 30 min of quiet reading or one math worksheet. You don't want to dull his intensity, but he will need to learn to not shut down completely. Don't aim for full school during those weeks, just aim for functioning normal daily life. It'll improve as he gets older & he learns his own ways of dealing with it. Having a compassionate, understanding mom who will help him learn how he best deals with it can only help.

hockeymom
10-14-2010, 03:47 PM
Wow MamaB2C and Brandi--thanks so much. It's exactly what I needed to hear. "They go full speed ahead and then have to stop for awhile, from exhaustion, to recharge and process all they took in": that *totally* explains him. We used to worry and fret over what all meant, but we realize now it's just part of his personality. It's so totally unlike either of us that it is baffling, however, as is his typical inability to shut down his brain. Even in his down time he's working on something, usually something complex and not something we'd think a 7 year old "ought" to be trying to figure out (example from the other night as he was trying to go to sleep: he was trying to figure out the chemical composition of gasoline. I mean seriously!).

"You can either go with it, and allow him those needed breaks, or force him to pace himself" This is exactly what we've been trying to figure out, and whether or not it's even possible (or worth it) to try to make him deal with things in a way that isn't quite natural to him. I wonder if it will even out as he gets older, as some of his other quirks have. I also like the idea of allowing him definite "off weeks" without going completely without school work. He does understand and acknowledge when his brain is fried and I think he would be open to the idea of focusing on one or two goals a day when it happens. It helps to hear that it's "okay" to not expect a full schedule all the time.

Thanks so much for all the support. I really needed it today. I felt the ((hugs)) all the way from Arkansas! :)

And Cara-- you're right-I have no idea how other kids handle their days, and having only one that's especially true. I'm sorry to hear you've had such a bummer of a week. I hope you get the space and support you need to take care of yourself and heal your body. Hugs to you from way up north.

MamaB2C
10-14-2010, 04:01 PM
whether or not it's even possible (or worth it) to try to make him deal with things in a way that isn't quite natural to him.
Sprinters want to sprint and will probably never be long-distance runners, though they might be okay at middle distance sometimes. Hope that analogy makes sense.


I wonder if it will even out as he gets older, as some of his other quirks have.

I have been married to an intense person for 20 years. It doesn't even out really, but DH seems to have learned to ease down instead of crashing, and to force himself to take breaks...well most of the time. I have to remind him sometimes.

farrarwilliams
10-14-2010, 08:15 PM
Agreed with what others said. And I would add that one cool thing about homeschooling is that you can really help him understand and work with his own patterns better most of the time. As he gets older, he can schedule his own time and projects thinking about that tendency of his (assuming it remains his pattern).

Kylie
10-15-2010, 04:30 AM
Oh gee he sounds a lot like, ahem, me :D

I agree to just go with, he is obviously taking in and learning heaps when he is the zone so to speak that the down times probably don't really matter. Have you sat down and looked back over the year at what he has actually done and achieved? I bet it all balances out in the end.

It's tough and draining being an all or nothing kind of person and I know the feeling of having to retreat all too well I'm afraid. Thankfully my friends know me well enough now to know that I need to regroup and recharge my batteries at least a few times a year!

I think the hardest part would you adjusting to him and working around him, but I'm not really sure I have any advice for you on that one, apart from what has already been suggested.

Busygoddess
10-15-2010, 08:20 AM
Wow MamaB2C and Brandi--thanks so much. It's exactly what I needed to hear. "They go full speed ahead and then have to stop for awhile, from exhaustion, to recharge and process all they took in": that *totally* explains him. We used to worry and fret over what all meant, but we realize now it's just part of his personality. It's so totally unlike either of us that it is baffling, however, as is his typical inability to shut down his brain. Even in his down time he's working on something, usually something complex and not something we'd think a 7 year old "ought" to be trying to figure out (example from the other night as he was trying to go to sleep: he was trying to figure out the chemical composition of gasoline. I mean seriously!).

"You can either go with it, and allow him those needed breaks, or force him to pace himself" This is exactly what we've been trying to figure out, and whether or not it's even possible (or worth it) to try to make him deal with things in a way that isn't quite natural to him. I wonder if it will even out as he gets older, as some of his other quirks have. I also like the idea of allowing him definite "off weeks" without going completely without school work. He does understand and acknowledge when his brain is fried and I think he would be open to the idea of focusing on one or two goals a day when it happens. It helps to hear that it's "okay" to not expect a full schedule all the time.



It probably won't even out, I know I haven't yet. That's why I suggested aiming for normal functioning day, because when he's an adult he won't be able to completely crash. He'll have to have learned to do some basic things, even when he's fried (unless he's lucky enough to have no restraints on his time or he shortens his crash to one or two days). I wouldn't try to force him to not be obsessive about things. Mainly because I doubt it would work. I have several big projects going at any given time. I go nonstop for 19-20 hours a day. 2 or 3 times a year, I crash for a weekend. A weekend is all I can afford. It drives my husband crazy. He would love not to have to deal with the crashes and manic-like obsessions, but he loves that I'm so passionate about things. So, it evens out. All said, though, I would rather be the intense-manic-obsessive-passionate person then be the one that has to live with them. It's harder being the one dealing with someone else's obsessions & crashes. I'm noticing it more & more in Jay. Dea seems to be more spread out - less intensity but for longer periods of time, with dips instead of total crashes. Jay is more like me - one or two things, major intesity, total crash for a few days.

mommykicksbutt
10-15-2010, 08:28 AM
I had a professor like that in college. He was either in the classroom going 90 mph with full animation (during class and after class impromptu discussions), or in the natural history museum (his project), or his office working, most of the time non-stop for hours. There were times we would see him at midnight and then again at 8 am the next morning and he never went home, still in the same clothes, didn't sleep. He would do this for days on end then he would "check out" and crash. We wouldn't see him for a couple of days. At first we student thought he was on drugs but the other staff members (and we even contacted his mother) reassured us that was not the case but rather it was just his personality type. Full throttle work-a-holic then crash recovery (do not disturb) to recharge his batteries. Perhaps your kiddo is the same way.

hockeymom
10-15-2010, 09:00 AM
Thanks everyone. Seriously, all this advice is so helpful and it's reassuring to hear that my instincts are on track. My suspicion is that we can't control his obsessions, and I really like the ideas on helping him deal with the down time. It is of course true that he learns a ton when he's in the zone, so it's just a matter of becoming comfortable with taking time off when it's really needed. I can see that tailoring our studies to fewer major "exciting" subjects (ie history and science) will be beneficial too, so he can concentrate on one at a time and not both.

Kylie
10-17-2010, 06:29 PM
I'm glad you are feeling more comfortable about this now.:D

hockeymom
10-17-2010, 06:54 PM
Thanks Kylie! You know, I was surprised to hear that you are an *intense* person--I've envisioned you as so relaxed and low key! Isn't it funny how our online personas can be interpreted? LOL. I truly appreciate your input and support! :)

wild_destiny
10-17-2010, 08:39 PM
You aren't the only one who pictures Kylie that way, hockeymom! I also thought she must be the most relaxed, gentle, easy-going person imaginable! It IS funny to see how people come across online as opposed to IRL. :)

Kylie
10-18-2010, 06:47 AM
Rofl!!! That is so funny ladies.

I am training myself to mellow in my old age and have to work very hard at 'being relaxed' Maybe you all just bring it out in me!! I also have to come realise that I don't enjoy the fluctuations of intensity. I am generally happier if I can keep an even keel so to speak.

I really enjoy this forum by the way.
Thanks Kylie! You know, I was surprised to hear that you are an *intense* person--I've envisioned you as so relaxed and low key! Isn't it funny how our online personas can be interpreted? LOL. I truly appreciate your input and support! :)

InstinctiveMom
10-19-2010, 04:17 PM
Agreed with what others said. And I would add that one cool thing about homeschooling is that you can really help him understand and work with his own patterns better most of the time. As he gets older, he can schedule his own time and projects thinking about that tendency of his (assuming it remains his pattern).

Definitely :)


Oh gee he sounds a lot like, ahem, me :D

It's tough and draining being an all or nothing kind of person and I know the feeling of having to retreat all too well I'm afraid. Thankfully my friends know me well enough now to know that I need to regroup and recharge my batteries at least a few times a year!


Ditto that here... I'm in a bit of a slump right now, but am getting ready to go full-steam ahead again... it works for me, and sounds like it does for him as well. He probably gets more in those intense learning sessions than he would if it were doled out in bite-sized sections anyway.
I do like the "one thing per day' on down days. We might implement that as well.
~h