An Interview With My Son Tom, A Great British Rower, Who Gives Advice On Having An Energetic Child
An Interview with Great British Rower Tom Jeffery
My son came home for a few days after racing at World Cup 3 in Lucerne and I thought I would pick his brains on some tips for parents with young energetic kids!
Joanna: Children with lots of energy can be hugely tiresome, I should know because I had you! What things used to tire you out?
Tom: Haha, yeh sorry about that. Umm, I think to be honest having a consistent opportunity to run around is key. It’s not about doing activities which will tire kids out. For example if you thought going bowling in the holidays was active things to do – it’s not really, it’s just a time filler.
What kids really want is consistent, active sports. Sport was key for me, going to a running club 3 times a week, rugby every Saturday. Truth be known, that’s enough, as long as your kids are getting in enough sport to fill their boots, any extra energy they have is fine and is not up to you as the parent to empty that reserve. I would say it’s up to you to get them to sports clubs most days of the week. Give them the opportunity to make friends, learn new skills, sportsmanship - all the great things that sport gives. Do it because they enjoy it, not because they might be good at it, that may come, but only if they enjoy it.
Joanna: So sport is enough to run out the energy reserves of a child?
Tom: Not exactly! But the point is that it’s not your job to constantly have activities in place for your child. If they attend enough sports clubs each week then what will probably happen. What I would often find was on a Sunday, for example when nothing much was happening, a few of us would meet up to play football or 40-40.
Joanna: Did running and playing rugby make it easier to come back and work or read more calmly?
Tom: Hmm, that’s a difficult one. It’s hard to say because I don’t know how I would’ve been if I hadn’t had sports to do consistently. I mean, I’ve spoken to friends recently who say that rowing helps them study. In fact, one guy has just finished the Boat Race for Oxford and I asked him how he managed to do all the rowing and all the studying and he said he thinks he would’ve found the studying harder had he not had the rowing as well! Strangely enough. I would say though that running around certainly makes sitting still easier, if that makes sense.
But look, I thinks it would be naïve to think that I could go to a running club then come home and be happy to sit and read or do my homework. It’s not like a magic pill, it doesn’t suddenly make you able to sit and concentrate like a ninja. But I’m certain it makes it easier. I wasn’t the sort of child that could express themselves sitting down so sport was key for me. But I’m sure the opposite is true as well, I’m sure some children could express themselves sitting down – writing a story or painting a picture. For me it was all about scoring try’s or running in races, without that I would’ve been a caged animal and that’s not good for anyone.
Joanna: Well, I can’t disagree with any of that! All makes complete sense. Basically, let your child be who they are, if they are energetic, let them have energy, if they are good at drawing, let them be artists.
Tom: Yeh exactly, if they like drawing, take them to drawing classes. They’ll meet likeminded people, their creative minds can mix together. In fact, to summarise, whatever they like doing – take them to a club outside of school for that particular thing. They will meet similar kids to them and that will help them feel like they fit in – and they are doing what they enjoy, which is also really important.
Joanna: Brilliant! Thanks, a very honest account, I’m sure parents will find that very useful!
Tom: Yes hopefully! Although this is all just from my experience, I'm sure there's other experiences out there which work for other children!
An honest account from my son, Tom Jeffery about looking back on his experience as a child.
Joanna Jeffery, MBE