Sometimes kids just need a break

Published 5:37 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2022

By Nathan Rice

Timothy set down his fishing pole as soon as he saw a frog hopping towards the pond. He quickly and carefully navigated his way behind the frog and bent down to scoop up the amphibian. He held out the frog for me to see, and soon the other 19 first, second and third graders who were a part of our group at the kids’ camp gathered around to see his prized catch.

Soon, however, it was time for us to leave the pond and head to our next activity. I told Timothy to put the frog down so that we could go. His face fell, and he refused to put the frog down. “I want to stay here with him,” he said. I explained that we had to leave and that the frog needed to stay with his family at the pond. 

We continued this discussion as the other kids packed up and followed their other adult leader to the next adventure. I tried all I knew how to do to get Timothy to put the frog down. I told him again the frog needed to return to his home and family, spoke of the fun he would miss if he didn’t go with the group, and then spoke sternly, sharing the consequences if he continued to disobey. 

His face went from defiant to sad, and I could almost see him thinking of his next move. Thankfully, another leader asked Timothy if he needed a break. He replied with a sad, “Yeah.” The leader offered to take him to an indoor space for a moment to cool down, have some water and take a break for a few minutes. 

He placed the frog down as he said, “I’ll never forget you, Trayaurus.” The newly named frog hopped away, and Timothy departed with the camp leader for a break from the day. It wasn’t long before Timothy arrived back at his group of campers, happy, energetic and ready to continue the day.

This event can help us see that sometimes children need a rest more than anything else. I could have kept trying to get him to put down the frog by talking about how it can’t live in his hands forever, but it wouldn’t have been what his tired body, heart and mind needed. I could have gone to discipline because of his refusal to set down the frog, but it wouldn’t have been the most effective resolution. 

He was tired, and he needed a break. He may not have realized it, but his voice, face and body language demonstrated that he needed to rest for a few moments. 

We tend to understand that infants may be tired when they are fussy or crying, but if we aren’t careful, we can miss the clues that older children show when they are tired. There will be times when they need a positive talk, and there will be times when they need discipline, but there will also be times when they just need a break. 

Sometimes a rest can be the most effective solution.

NATHAN RICE is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.