When your child is struggling try to slow. it. down.

kids playing with toys

Consider the following scenarios. You are trying to get out the door in the morning, already running ten minutes late, and your preschooler refuses to put on his shoes. Bedtime is fast-approaching and your second grader refuses to take a shower and brush her teeth. It’s time to leave for an appointment and your middle schooler won’t turn off the TV. 

These situations, as well as many others that seem to happen just when we don’t have time to wait, are commonplace in homes with children. They leave parents feeling stressed, angry, and annoyed. Parents lose their cool and end up yelling, threatening, or punishing their children, and feeling guilty afterwards. Parents sometimes wonder if their children like getting yelled at because oftentimes that's the only thing that gets them moving.

The truth is that children aren’t built for our fast-paced lives. Their brain is slower at processing information, they get distracted, they dawdle, they daydream, they get distracted again, they have their own agendas, and younger children have a more limited sense of time. They aren’t doing it on purpose, they aren’t trying to make your mornings, afternoons, and evenings harder. They struggle when being rushed because they simply need more time. More time to get ready, more time to connect with you before they can start getting ready, more time to put on shoes, to eat breakfast, to choose their clothes, to brush their teeth, to go from one activity to the next, and the list goes on. The more rushed children feel, the more challenging it is for them to do the things they need to do.

If mornings are a struggle and everyone is always late, try waking them up earlier to allow for more time to get ready. Get the bags packed and pick out the clothes the night before. Remind yourself that kids need more time and slow it down. Learn to appreciate and enjoy their slower pace. Allow your preschooler ten minutes to get shoes on. Set aside more time for bedtime routines so it doesn’t feel rushed. Remind your middle schooler of the appointment and allow him to get to a good stopping point a few minutes before it’s time to leave. Check in with them often and offer to help along the way. Yes, it takes more preparation and some getting used to, but it will make life with kids less chaotic and more enjoyable.

Barbara Johns

Barbara Johns, LPC Associate

I believe that in order to heal, people need to have a safe space where they can explore what is contributing to their problems and how they can use their difficulties as fuel for personal growth in order to turn things around and live life the way they really want to. My goal is to provide you with that safe and supportive environment as well as with new tools and skills that you can take with you on your journey towards healing and growth.

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