Relief for Overwhelmed Kids

Relief for Overwhelmed Kids

Does your child come home from school too overwhelmed for homework or even for "fun" structured after-school activities? Consider that your child may be right.

Remember the Language of Listening premise:

Children set the right level of challenge for growth.

Children who won't get off the couch, or if they do,  seem to drag themselves to the homework table or after-school activities, but then "just goof off," are probably right. They are overwhelmed from facing challenges they didn't set.

When children face challenges set by others that feel too high, they naturally back up.  Notice I said, "back up" not "back away."

This is the same as in the park when they back up a few steps before taking a running leap over a creek or ditch. Kids know exactly how far to back up to ensure success. Even if they are wrong, as long as they don't feel pushed into the challenge, they will back up more and try again on their own until they succeed. Push them and they just might have to prove they can't. Not the result you wanted.

The same is true in daily life. Children can only face possible failure so many times without turning to something that builds their confidence -- doodling, pencil spinning, making others laugh, turning to simpler tasks,  zoning out to daydream... You can bet their daydreams are not about more hard work.

This life strategy is innate. Kids are wired for success.

My niece put it succinctly one day after school when she came over for her weekly art class with me. She said:

"I just want to do something I'm good at!"

We switched gears and did a power playtime instead -- she led the play and set challenges that were right for her. 30-minutes later she tackled a small art project, then went home for dinner and homework. Turns out even adjusting the format was backing up, because after sticking with half-playtime/half-art for a few weeks, she was ready to dive fully back into art classes.

Even if you don't have 30 minutes to stop and SAY WHAT YOU SEE while your child plays, honoring your child's need to succeed by scheduling in time to decompress and be self-led will help. Pointing out the natural running leap strategy by SAYing WHAT YOU SEE and naming the STRENGTH will help even more.

Rather than referring to backing up as avoidance or procrastination, reveal these steps for what they really are -- preparation for success.

SWYS (during): "Looks like you are looking for something to do that you are good at."

STRENGTH (after): "Somehow you knew exactly what you needed to do to be able to return to your work."

Just remember what my niece said. The same is true for everyone.

When I feel like I can't get anything done,  I do puzzles. What is your most common way of backing up for a running leap? Your child's?

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