When an adult gets overwhelmed, they’ve had years of experience learning how to cope with these emotions and self-regulate. But when a child gets overwhelmed, their limited experience with stress and anxiety can cause them to react in ways that only seem to make the situation worse.
As a parent, having to help an overwhelmed child can be equally as overwhelming for you. But if you’re able to take a deep breath and learn some effective assistance strategies, you may find that you’re better able to help your child and keep these situations a little more calm.
To help you see how this can be done, here are three tips for helping your child who gets easily overwhelmed.
Validate Their Feelings First
Once you see that your child is starting to get overwhelmed about something, the very first thing you should do is give them validation about what they’re feeling. Even if it might not make sense to you completely about why they’re reacting in the way they are, letting your child know that you see what’s going on and that you’re there to help them through can be extremely helpful.
Ideally, you should try to get down on your child’s level as you help validate their feelings. This will help them to see that you’re listening to them and that you’re ready to work together to find a solution.
Redirect Their Attention
When your child starts to feel overwhelmed by something, whether it’s not being able to correctly play their piano music or not understanding their homework, it usually isn’t helpful to insist that they keep trying at that moment. Rather, you should seek to redirect their attention until they’re able to calm down.
By redirecting your child’s attention away from the thing that’s overwhelming them, you can give their mind a chance to relax so they can come back to their problem with a clear head and find a more logical solution when their emotions aren’t so chaotic.
Treat Them Gently
Although it can be very stressful and frustrating to try to help a child who’s feeling overwhelmed, especially about something that might seem small or insignificant to you, it’s important that you keep your cool so that you can help them through this tough time. If how your child is responding to stress is unacceptable, you can introduce discipline to them once the emotions have been able to calm down. This way, your child will get the support they need when they’re overwhelmed while also learning how to better respond in the future.
If you have a child who gets easily overwhelmed and shuts down, consider using the tips mentioned above to help you both learn how to work through these explosive times.