Our eldest is suffering from a soul fever. This concept is wonderfully explained in kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting, but the basic idea is that a soul fever is when there is some hard-to-see stressors affecting our children’s behavior or mood. Similar to how a physical fever is a symptom of a problem within the body, with a soul fever we see symptoms and need to examine our child closely to identify the cause. Whether or not we find the cause, treatment is necessary! Since being introduced to this concept, our general treatment is to scale back. We stick close to home, snuggle up more, read more stories together, and allow more time for free play.
Over the past few weeks, we have been preparing ourselves for school to start again, which it did today. Our Eldest has become increasingly clingy, whiny, needy, and short-tempered. At first it’s easy to focus on changing those behaviors, but after identifying it as a soul fever related to starting school, it was easier to act more compassionately. So we stayed home this past weekend. She spent hours playing with legos (the ones from when I was her age, how amazing is that?). She watched the Care Bears movie. She played outside, swinging and riding bikes. And we had meals together as a family. She noticeably calmed down and was even able to fall asleep well last night, the night before school starting up.
Unfortunately, the actual first day was still too much. Her soul fever is back and we need to treat it again, but this time, we need to do it in addition to her spending most of her day at school, and while we have a fairly busy weekend planned. Between soccer, dinner with cousins, and heading back to church after our summer break, I hope we can leave the rest of the weekend wide open for relaxing; for playing outside; for confidence building; for reading books together and having some talks. If things don’t improve even a little bit before the weekend we might even call in “sick” to some of our commitments this weekend.