Challenge Accepted: Raising a Wild One.

Via Sarah Chase
on Dec 29, 2015
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Raising a spirited child is a blessing and a challenge.

They have this beautiful resilience about them and we know in our hearts that this will be vital in adulthood, but we are caught in this balancing act we call parenting.

On the best of days, I am in awe of my wild one. He is imaginative, compassionate and downright determined. He says such profound things that fill my heart with joy and wonder.

On the days when my patience runs thin, I wonder if I’ll be strong enough for him. I breathe, and count and even walk into another room, but on the worst of days, I break down and yell, only causing a fight.

Butting heads with a wild one only causes them to push harder. On these days I want to pull my hair out in frustration.

This was not what I pictured parenting would be like.

Demand from a wild one, and they will demand from us. Teach a wild one, and they will teach us, too.

One day I realized that everything I want for my son already comes so naturally to him. His independence, determination, wit and deep compassion will help him navigate through adulthood in our society.

I realized that instead of trying to shape him it was my job to guide him. Guide him to better choices and morality, and away from harm. That is, after all, the meaning of discipline.

It is easier said than done with wild ones.

Redirecting and guiding is a process of trial and error. Validation and positive reinforcement may work one day and not another, and at times it seems we have to be three steps ahead so they don’t figure out our methods.

We have to think ahead, be quick to adapt and learn to roll with changes.

We must forget about any personal idea of perfection. I remember laughing when a mother in a breastfeeding group asked,

“How do we get them on a schedule?” 

What I didn’t realize then, is that I was raising a wild one.

His mind leads me to believe that he will do great things. He loves to learn and explore. Sometimes, I fear for him, though.

Will his energy levels be too much? Will his determination stay on the path of hard work and kindness? Will he transition into adulthood in the way I hope?

A wild one, like my son, wakes early and is instantly filled with energy. He’s jumping on the bed and running throughout the house before you’ve had a chance to say, “good morning.”

He is determined, throughout the day, to help people see what he sees and understand his wants and needs. He hugs tighter, laughs louder and stands firm in his stance on things for much, much longer.

All day he jumps, climbs, tells jokes and will firmly and without a filter tell you when he disapproves. He is outspoken and honest, and has to be moving or talking during all waking hours.

Not every wild one is this way. While they share certain traits, they are all unique.

A wild one, like my sister, will talk about her passions for hours and isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

The young girl who once sat on the steps to her friend’s house, refusing to leave with my mother for well over an hour, is the same girl who was accepted to and successfully attended a challenging college, and is now applying to grad school.

Growing up with her, I have experienced the same pride and frustration that I experience now with my son. She has more quiet moments as an introvert than my very extroverted son, but I see the same independence, determination, wit and resilience.

Seeing her success gives me such hope for my son’s future. It lets me know that with guidance, he will absolutely be capable of great things.

To the parents of these wonderfully wild children:

First, a big hug.

Self care is important when raising these beautifully spirited souls. We must remember to recharge, as we will need the energy. Coffee can only do so much.

We are exhausted, proud, frustrated and amazed—sometimes all in the same day.

Going out is a challenge, not knowing if they will melt down or act with kindness. Getting ready can take minutes or an hour.

Their minds blow us away. We cherish those little moments of peace and cry when our children decide that nap time is a thing of the past.

Let’s be thankful for the lessons. Let’s find and hold onto little moments to be grateful for, and remember that the wild ones can help shape and change our world.

We have been given this wonderful challenge.

Let’s say it together: Challenge accepted.



10 Ways Children show us the way to Happiness.

Relephant bonus:


Author: Sarah Chase

Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Caitlin Oriel

Photo: Courtesy of the Author // troy_williams/Flickr


About Sarah Chase

Sarah Chase is a homeschooling mother of a wonderful wild one, and a photographer specializing in portraits of childhood. To find out more about Sarah, please visit her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


28 Responses to “Challenge Accepted: Raising a Wild One.”

  1. Molly says:


    This article hit home in every way! As a fellow mother of a wild one, I am constantly trying to keep up with my feral child (as I like to call him). I find myself nervous before we go into public because he can be so adventurous and excited that I can see other parents judging me or worse, him. It was only recently that I truly realized that I had such an exceptional child and that despite the looks, I would never stop him from embracing who he is; while other parents may have docile children (that allow them to sit and drink an entire cup of coffee in one sitting), they’ll never be able to experience the magic of watching a child with natural wonder and wander in their soul. Thanks again for sharing!

  2. Jackie says:

    Beautiful article; it describes my wild one perfectly! He is the joy of my world! I have been blessed for the last ten years with an amazing (and sometimes frustrating) child. I do love his determination and can’t wait to see the man he is growing into; I expect to see great things from him.

  3. schase12 says:

    Molly ~
    Thank you for sharing your story! Those stares and judgmental words can be hard to handle at times, but what a wonderful perspective you have now! <3

  4. Michelle says:

    This sounds like AdHd, untreated. Not just being wild. I just think its weird to create your own new label and categories for kids. Hyper kids are 'wild' but let's call it what it really is… hyperactive.

  5. schase12 says:

    Jackie ~
    <3 Thank you! And I'm sure there will be so many great things to come!

  6. schase12 says:

    Michelle ~
    There is a fine line between ADHD (with or without hyperactivity) and a spirited child. While yes, there are similarities to both, there are differences too. He does not fit the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, but you bring up a valid point!

  7. Erica says:

    “We are exhausted, proud, frustrated and amazed—sometimes all in the same day.”
    Hits home! I know my daughter’s striking independence will benefit her in adulthood but like you said it poses challenges in the parenting realm. It’s important to give our children tools to expend and harness their energy in different ways. Not all hyper children are adhd. The fact is, there has been less focus on physical activity (which I am hopeful is changing) in our country in recent years and kids are kids! Bless them, as they are full of energy and just need healthy ways to express it.
    Your article is inspiring in that it’s a go with the flow and stay strong spirit encouraging us to realize the blessing in a wild child and lessons we will learn as well. Thanks for a great post…
    Happy New Year

  8. Guest says:

    I find it both sad and disturbing that a child that shows exuberence, intelligence and excitement is labeled as ADHD every time and the predominate answer is to drug them. I vehemently disagree with this conclusion. Many children are smart, smart, smart. Yet, when their active minds complete their assignment quickly they must sit quietly while waiting for slower minds finish the assignment. An active mind should not be punished but kept occupied. I have impatience with people that do not think as quickly as I do or struggle with answers that are so readily evident to me. So the answer today would be that I need to be drugged. I am 65 years old and thankfully, nobody gets to decide that for me. Too bad they get to decide that for the children. While I understand that many children have more severe problems and do need help, it should not be the standard answer. It HAS however, come to that.

  9. April says:

    Michelle, I would like to respectfully disagree! Sarah’s wonderful wild child sounds like he loves learning, is successful in it and thrives with it. It would be so unfair to say it was ADHD, just like it is with so many of the children wrongly diagnosed. We have to be very careful not to label busy children with strong personalities as ADHD. That label can be way more harmful than the loving label of wild one.

  10. Lindsay says:

    Fully agreed.

  11. Lindsay says:

    I don’t think it’s just making up a new label for behavior types… I think it’s seeing these traits through a different lenses.
    I assume that most diagnostics are the result of behaviors deemed pathological within the constructs of our society and it’s inherited rules and expectations.
    Maybe it would befit us all to see with more understanding of how these traits evolved and what they may serve.
    Perhaps they are what we need in this troy led world.

  12. Diane says:

    We had my "wild child" diagnostically tested when we had to repeat her in first grade – her attention span was short and she wasn't grasping things as quickly as her peers. She had some, but not enough, of the markers to diagnose her ADD or ADHD, and as it turned out, she just needed that one more year of maturing to understand the concepts being so rapidly taught her. She's now in 2nd grade and doing very well. And she is still wildly energetic, emotional, passionate, and has difficulty with self control. As she matures, she changes and I have no doubt she will become a very successful, motivated woman, without meds. I'm not against them in every case, but I sure am against the overuse of these two labels and meds that aren't necessary when good, consistent, loving training and discipline is what is really needed. It IS a challenge, and parents who choose to do what it takes to love & work hard with these personality type kids should be celebrated rather than told they SHOULD put their children on meds.

  13. Joanne says:

    Your article is so accurate I could have written it myself. As a mother of 4 I quickly realised that my third child was different than the other 2 a “wild” one. I love this boy to death and in some ways I favour him more but believe me the rearing of this boy to a now 18 year old young man has been bitter sweet. Over the years he has pushed every button imaginable, moved goal posts out of sight, been argumentative, oppositional, defiant and angry and I’m not ashamed to say I got angry back, even cried many times but some how I have been able to look past it all and also see my son for the beautiful person he is, intelligent, creative, loving, honest, loyal and compassionate, sometimes he just blows me away. School has been no picnic as he refuses to conform but somehow he has managed to hopefully complete his A levels at the end of this year, I don’t know what he will do after school or where his free spirit will guide him but I have always felt that he will achieve greatness and success in his life no matter what because he is so passionate about the things he loves. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at age 6 and also suffers from dyslexia but we have never used labels as an excuse or an obstacle he is just himself a “wild” one. However, at the ripe old age of 40 I gave birth to a little late one, ANOTHER “wild” one, he is now 5 and as my other children are now 26,20 and 18 he is the joy in my life, like his brother he is wilful, stubborn spirited and frustrating at the same time as being endearing, funny, charming and clever…… I just hope I have the strength to outsmart this one for another 13 years.

  14. Kat says:

    I raised a wild child who is now starting to raise one of her own. My daughter’s first sentence at age one was “I say NO!” We called her “the two-foot tyrant.” Her curiosity and imagination knew no bounds. We decided to homeschool. I labeled her ADD myself, and knew the best place to give her the freedom to learn her own way was with us. I noted often that if the qualities of determination, innovation, energy, and passion she possessed could be appropriately channeled she would be an amazing adult. The challenge was in helping teach her without smothering her fire, and in her case, being very careful not to criticize, as this seemed to almost incapacitate her. Parenting was and usually is a one-day-at-a-time adventure. Some days were failure and tears for me, other days amazingly exhilarating. And to make a long story short, she IS a wonderful adult, mother, and friend today. We had four other awesome children too. Despite our mistakes and frustration, they are happy, productive people. My advice for any parent of young children, wild or “normal” is just do your best. They are sent to you for a reason. Never give up on them! And remember no parents are perfect (yours were probably not either). Enjoy the journey — they grow up too fast.

  15. Wende Parsley says:

    Bless you! You wrote what I feel!

  16. chantal says:

    Challenge excepted!! Lovely article x

  17. Lani says:

    A challenge to guide without breaking his spirit. Challenge accepted♡

  18. Nancy says:

    I have had an inner struggle and been constantly, even daily, haunted by guilt over each and every struggle. I have two completely opposite daughters yet each of them are ‘wild ones’. My oldest has me so worried that because she’s different, and doesn’t fit the social norms, that she will deal with the same struggles as I have because she’s literally a mini-me of my younger self. I struggle because I correct her then I reflect and analyze everything in life and find myself realizing that I am trying to conform her because of my own fears. She’s not ever sad or upset about her social life and choices and more often than not they aren’t bad ones… and then I feel guilty. I want her wild, independent, explorer characteristics to make her the happy person she wants to and is meant to be.
    My youngest daughter is spirited, energetic, popular socially, willful, determined, demanding, and loving and I’ve been trying to ‘win’ every battle because ‘I’m Mom’ and I have fears if left unchecked she will become a bossy child no one will want to be with or will have a bad reputation (again, my own fears from my childhood). I have cried after ending conflict with demanding ‘my way’ because I know it’s stifling her growth into a person who will go far with those.attributes as an adult… but I have a hard time balancing when to correct and when to teach. I am stubborn, and I win… always. And I hate that about how it comes out in my parenting. This article has touched me more than you know. My goal, every day, is to be a better person than the day before. This has opened my eyes that these gifts I call my daughters are ok just as they are. I don’t need to make them into what society deems ‘normal’ or worry that because of their energy level I need to have them assessed to see if they need medications because they might have adhd because they run circles around the calm socially interactive children that surround them. You have given me such an important gift with your words… relief. Thank you.

  19. Meagan says:

    Oh my word.. This is my little lady, and then some! I have never met a more spirited child in my life. She is a mere three years old, but she has such a fire burning in her soul. She is frighteningly unafraid, from bugs to running, climbing, jumping, swimming, bikes, cars and people she is not afraid. Being relatively paranoid, I can safely say I’m often at my wits end. Her laughter comes from her belly, and she makes funny voices, and she is the most compassionate little human. I fully understand that barrage of emotions, as I experience it daily! ^.^ From wanting to squeeze her so tight with love and pride, to wanting to rip out my hair. I often feel as though I’m losing my mind! Hahaha. Yet still, I couldn’t not wouldn’t change her for the world. She amazes me with her intelligence and personality. Being so small, so brand new to life, yet embracing it so wholeheartedly. I am in awe of her at most moments during the day.

  20. Janie says:

    As a parent who’s child has been accurately diagnosed with adhd, there is a lot more to look at then what is right for the parent especially when the decisions don’t just affect you but also your child’s other care givers, teachers,classmates and most importantly your child. When my daughter received her first diagnosis in pre k I choose not to medicate feeling that she was not that abnormal in her exuberance than most of her peers but by the time she was in first grade and I was sat down with a 2 inch stack of uncompleted assignments and complaints that her condition was not only affecting her learning but also her classmates due to all the disruptions and distractions. I realized I needed to give the medication a try. At almost 11 she is still taking medication and is an honor roll student. She still has struggles and medication is only one component of coping with her disorder but I could not imagining handicapping her by not giving it to her. Not all children are the same and their are different spectrums of adhd and I am by no means advocating that every spirited child should be medicated but I am saying you owe it to the child to do what is best for them and their needs not just the parents ideals.

  21. Denise says:

    I feel very lost at times because both of my children are Wild Ones.

  22. Rebekkah says:

    This comment made me vomit in my mouth. What a sad miserable dreary world you must live in to believe that any child who lives in a color pallet of life should be labeled so negatively. Maybe the world should adjust thier labels from adhd to enlightened, joyful gifted thinkers. It would be a more appropriate label for them.

  23. Kristina says:

    Molly, I’m glad that you are learning to embrace the personality of your child, as we should all do with our children–help them develop into the best version of themselves, and not who we think they should be.

    I’d just like to caution you to not make negative assumptions about “docile” children or assume your “wild” child is going to fare better as an adult due to his personality. Sometimes we try to make ourselves feel better about our children but in the process try to discount what is good in others. EVERY personality is unique and important and holds endless potential. Every child has the ability to be great. One does not need a “strong” personality in order to make an irreplaceable difference in this world. Saying that a parent of a “docile” child will never see “wonder” in the soul of her child just doesn’t make any sense. Do you think a beautiful, dreaming soul is only there if it is shouted from the rooftops? That “docile” child may be a future Ghandi or great poet, or–as many would assume she could never be, merely based on her calm exterior–a great leader. Or she or your child may lead a private life and never do anything “great” in the eyes of the world. And does that matter? No. We are not all here to be superstars or presidents. We are here to live our lives well and make the world better wherever we’re at and whatever we do. Every single child, no matter their personality or how hard they are to parent, is here to make an indelible mark on the world.

  24. Melinda says:

    Awesome, wonderful article. It’s so easy to feel alone with a wild one. Thank you for helping me to remember I am not alone! <3

  25. fcrg503 says:


  26. fcrg503 says:

    I love and don't love this article. I have 2 kids and lots of friends with children,I also work with children teaching sport, and both my parents are teachers of 30 years. Nothing you have said sounds exceptional to me. He's not wild at all he's just a boy! What parent in the world knows how long it's going to take to get out the house, or whether or not their kid will have a 2 hour meltdown in the street, we all need to chill out and stop worrying about what other people may or may not be thinking. I wish people would stop labeling children. Most children are energetic, especially boys. It is the constraints of society that cause us to believe there is any problem with that, and the breakdown in families, that we don't spend enough time growing up with other children enough to see that most young children are wild and crazy! It's all good, Give them an apple instead of a lollypop and send them outside to play!

  27. Alena says:

    What a breath of fresh air to read that I’m not alone raising a beautifully wild soul! All my family and friends think it’s my holistic parenting that made him so wild! It’s good to read something like this. I embrace the wildness everyday. And exactly ~ coffee is not enough. We need support and rest. Thank you for writing this!!

  28. SamBrown says:

    Oh look! You made your apperance! I knew I would find you lurking in here somewhere. It was refreshing to read all the above comments where you got to witness parents having their moment in bliss after reading such a specific and almost personal diary-like article of their child. THEN one person that knows a large amount of people, and their people – who have lots of children and then a family and personal history of “teaching” children that are cookie cutter and nothing like the children mentioned, stops by to ultimately try and discredit our children and our parenting skills and lets throw in our integrity and intuition too. All i can really say to try and get you to broaden your structured beliefs and close minded persona is that YOU personally have two kids. Neither one of them fits the discription the author wrote about. That is ok – no, its actually great for the way your mind is trained. Because if you had a spirited child, you would instantly be estatic that someone else gets it and wrote this article and that a handfull of other parents are with you on this journey too! As far as your parents being teachers, they will not have an intimite enough relationship with a spirited childs brain to fully recognize one, and you have friends with kids who you will not have that same experience with either. So yeah, they probably are just “boys being young hyper boys” to you guys. I however have a DAUGHTER. We are inseperatable. No constraints on society. No family breakdown. No lack of the outdoors . These are areas we thrive in because of our spirited child. I know you will never understand what we are trying to describe in our child because its something very unique and takes an open mind and williness to look past gender labels and generalized child behavioral patterns, let alone your own personal experinence. This article was written with an inmeasuarable amount of love, because that is what we have gained and learned from our wild spirited child. Please dont tell us how to raise our child cause i gurantee while you are trying to tell the next mom or dad to give their spirited child an apple instead of a lollipop because thats what is wrong with them, their spirited wild child is out in the garden singing to the top of their lungs a random song that filled their heart while waiting for you to finish, so they both can get back to pretending they have a green thumb and getting excited about a couple fruits and veggies that have actually grown, to pick and eat for a snack or meal!! Its pretty intense and worth every waking moment.