October 15, 2014

hyperactive or spirited?

I resist the tendency to call my son things, slapping labels on him. Certain labels like Sweet, Lovey, Cuddly, Active, Busy... those are fine and appropriate. I have a harder time listening to someone use the term Hyperactive. Labels like that tend to grow suckers and attach themselves before being proven appropriate.

Case in point: Monday we returned from a three-night stay in a cabin in the mountains. My son was surrounded by family, mountains, s'mores, and a couple of new toys without access to television or even radio for the most part. Once we got home, he spent the afternoon getting reacquainted with his toys. Every one of them. He was so focused on bouncing from one toy to the next and the next, and seeing what we all were doing that it took several minutes of coaxing to get him to the dinner table. Somewhere in there a relative remarked on how he seems hyperactive. I've heard this person use the term before, but I don't think they realize exactly what they're saying.

According to the great collective wisdom of the internet, a hyperactive child is engaged in constant activity, is easily distracted and impulsive, can't concentrate, and is aggressive. Um, he's 2 years old. I'm pretty sure almost every 2 year old is like this to some degree.

Oh yes, he's very active. He's a bouncing Tigger most of the day. However, he is also capable of playing with Play Doh for 45 minutes unless I take it away because he's eating it, and loves to watch the animated movie Robots for at least 20 minutes at a time (when we usually turn it off because it's a bit too stimulating). I'd say he's capable of concentrating when he's interested in something.

But hyperactivity is generally associated with ADHD, and that is impossible to diagnose in a child as young as mine.

Another label that I'm less bothered with, but still hesitate to use, is Spirited. Spirited kids are more active, to be sure, but also more sensitive to environmental stimuli, and changes in general, and are more deeply affected by other people's moods among other things. They're also more intense and dramatic. Hm, actually this sounds more like my husband who happens to be an artist, but I digress.

All of this means very little to me. It doesn't impact my parenting choices, it doesn't make me look at him through diagnostic lenses, and it certainly doesn't make me want to medicate him. My son is not quiet (and I'm scared when he is). He's not introverted, to say the least. And he's not shy. He's just beautiful. I would say he's a bright rainbow of colors all day long.

Now if only I could convince him to turn down the rainbow at bedtime...