A little struggle never hurt anybody
It’s actually how most of us learn our greatest life lessons, but when the struggle becomes too much and it starts to affect our mental, emotional and physical health, we need to make changes. We need to prioritise what is important and look to create new habits which support and help our child thrive in this super busy crazy bonkers world.
What are the missed signs which show it’s all getting too much?
So aside from the obvious physical ones like biting nails or lip, teeth grinding and scratching in your sleep (I used to do all of these), let’s have a look at the other ones which show up at coaching:-
1. Being Late / Rushing / Being Forgetful – We sometimes lose sight of the fact that children are learning every day (so are we if we are honest!). It’s only fair, we expect them to some times forget things. Are we kind and compassionate about that?
What about though, when we’ve got too much to remember?
How many people are you thinking for?
Are you doing things that your child could be doing for themselves?
Are you creating a job for yourself so you feel needed? If you find yourself as a family rushing or running late and any other general feelings of chaos (yelling, panicking, worrying – you get the picture), it’s time to dial it down a notch. Read my Dear Smiley #2 I’m trying my best but it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough to see how this is the case for lots of other families.
2. Zoning out in front of the TV / Screens / Video Games Whilst I’m not foolish enough to realise that the virtual world is very much part of growing up today. It does require boundaries because when your child starts to use the virtual world to escape from their reality or to numb out uncomfortable feelings like stress, worries, sadness or anger, this is a warning sign. Some children come to coaching and tell me that they need to watch TV before bedtime to be able to sleep or they have to play video games because all their friends are doing it. Screens light up our brains in a way that is addictive and not relaxing at all.
3. Taking a long time to get to sleep When I was training as a Nanny I was taught that babies take about 20 minutes to settle themselves and get to sleep even if they moan or wriggle (swaddling is sooo good to keep them safe and relaxed). I’ve noticed that lots of children are going to bed way after their tired slot or are too wired after a long day to be ready for sleep. There needs to be time between school, homework, tea time or activities to wind down and be ready for sleepy time. This of course does not involve screens (see no.2 above). Children who find transition difficult (change or moving from one activity or place to another) will need longer and more warning to get themselves prepared.
4. Not being able to sit still Ants in your pants or lacking focus or butterfly brain as I like to call it doesn’t always mean your child needs an assessment for ADHD or ADD. (urrrgh too many people are quick to label children). This could simply be a sign that your child is carrying too many unexpressed emotions or trauma. When the emotional back pack is full, emotions come out sideways and feeling restless or not being able to focus and concentrate could just mean that life has gotten a little too much for your child. Also think about how in this busy world, we are just propelling ourselves from one thing to another and not stopping to take a breath. Why would a child then know how to relax if that is not the world they live in. It may take some practise to get still and be still. I am still practising.
5. Emotional outbursts – following on from my point 4 above about being fidgety, it’s also a good idea to check in that your child is not hungry, angry, lonely or tired (It’s easy to remember and it spells H.A.L.T). I’ve written a whole blog post about this and these are very simple reasons why they are getting cranky. How do you fare when you are any of those 4 things? I cannot function and it’s my body’s way of letting me know that I need something. A hug? A drink? Some food? Some special time to feel connected to you?
6. Pressure of School The best way a child learns is when they are relaxed and happy. Sadly, our school system does not meet every child’s learning style, personality type or provide an environment that is conducive to feeling relaxed or happy. We can tell this is the case because when the school holidays come around, you know that you and your child are more than ready for the break.
When learning stops becoming fun and is about grades or about being the best, it’s a sign the pressure is on. Children come to coaching and tell me school is like prison or it’s boring and they’ve stopped liking school. Some children also tell themselves they are rubbish and feel inadequate in comparison to their peers. When did we stop seeing our child for who they are instead of their achievements and what they can do? Sadly the busy world we live in is all about doing and less and less about doing. I love this quote by Einstein:
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
7. Scared of making mistakes / failing / not wanting to disappoint you Any child who is fixated on this is becoming a perfectionist and this is an unrealistic and this impossible state of being is setting the bar way too high. They are avoiding being human and are putting themselves under pressure to tirelessly keep on trying until it is ‘perfect’. Their avoidance comes out in procrastination which is really their way of showing you that the fear is too big for them to start. They take way too long over homework and fret about tests and exams. Their fears are real and huge to them. Social media for older children also taps into this insecurity as everything online is captured as perfect when we know that they are snapshots in time which have been set up to look that way.
8. Checking / intrusive thoughts This follows on from my point above. Children who have to have things a certain way or want to be in control or are checking. Children who have an anxious disposition will do things like wash their hands (and feet – I used to do this before bedtime), check they haven’t forgotten something, being hyper vigilant about what could go wrong or get stuck in a thought hole with a worry or something which is in reality not true or completely out of their control. A common one I hear is not feeling safe and worrying if a burglar or monster will somehow get into the house at night time.
9. Resisting School / After School clubs / Homework This isn’t because they are trying it on or not being grateful for their opportunities. It’s more likely that they have too much on their plate and they either need help managing that or they need to cut back on how much they are doing every day. I see children eating their tea in the car on the way to an after school club: this is a sign families aren’t making time for what is important. Nourishing our bodies and spending time together eating our dinner is really important for grounding and role modelling healthy habits to our children.
10. Clingy / Wanting to be at home When children don’t want to leave you or leave the house or feign illness so they can stay at home, they are trying to tell you something. Listen to them. I can remember as a child loving the rain so much because it meant staying at home. There was no rushing or having to go anywhere. I was given lots of privileges as a child but there were 4 of us and it was stressful for my Mum to taxi us all around – school, piano, Brownies, tutors, horse riding, dancing and sports practice. I don’t know how she did it. We needed time to be rested and alone with ourselves. Read my Dear Smiley #1 I Feel Total Overwhelm by my Bored Kids in the School Holidays.
How can I help?
If your child is displaying any of these signs, you may want to jump on-board the Smiley train as I’ve got lots of ways to help you:
- Emotionally resilient people can manage stress more effectively. Find out how emotionally intelligent you are by taking my quick and easy quiz
- Make relaxation part of your bedtime routine, you can get a relaxation download here so you can dissolve stress and drift off to sleep peacefully
- Create even more healthy habits and guide your child towards independence and emotional intelligence by joining The Energy Pod (it’s fun and light-hearted which is what your child needs to internalise this stuff)
What can you do?
Mums often need to fill up their own cup before they can for their child. They don’t because they find it hard to ask for help or they think it’s selfish to put themselves first. It’s not. Part of being a good enough parent is taking care of you. If you are not firing on all cylinders, then it will be harder for you to support your family in the way you’d like to.
Children become what they live and this is no way to live
All these signs tell us that this is merely existing. This world is not going to slow down. Are you?