Going Off the Rails
Quarantine has brought about all sorts of fun things like work stress, homeschool chaos, and worry that our children are somehow losing skills or emotionally injured from the whole experience. We can promise you that your children are going to be OK. Children are resilient and will grow and develop as expected. This in between time is really hard though and you may feel like you are starting to lose the battle.
Part of our worry about our children is that we are observing concerning behaviors more frequently because we are around them 24/7. Children are also letting their guards down at home and are not practicing social skills at school among their peers.
- Have you noticed that your child has low frustration tolerance? We guarantee you that the temper tantrum over a morning zoom meeting is reserved just for you. Your child would probably not be flipping out at school for fear that they would lose their cool in front of their classmates.
- Is your child fighting with their siblings more frequently? Don’t worry, he or she is not becoming a bully. Siblings fight…. a lot. They fight over the remote control or over who crossed the threshold of someone’s room or who took the last juice box. During the quarantine they are still fighting about all of these things, but there isn’t a 6 ½ hour break in the day like during the school week. They are doing their usual fighting, just more. This is all perfectly normal.
However, as parents we need a break from the temper tantrums and fighting. We need peace and here is how to get it.
Sit down with your child and figure out if there are common triggers for the meltdowns. Look at each of them as solvable problems. If you child is having regularly scheduled temper tantrums over the morning zoom, figure out in advance what would make it easier. Does he need a fidget? Does she need to turn her video off? Break it apart and find a solution so that your child feels in control and will be less likely to have an emotional reaction to the stressor. Similarly, if you notice your child is picking more fights with a sibling, find out what is setting her off. Solve the problem in advance. If her brother is constantly hogging the iPad and she lashes out because he logs out of her game or she doesn’t get enough time, figure out a time when she can have dedicated use. She will feel in control and when she notices he is on the device once again, she won’t be triggered.
Teaching children about problem solving is a life skill that not only will help them with school and life issues, but also with emotional regulation. Recognizing triggers, solving problems, and having success in prior difficult situations builds confidence and keeps emotions in check. Remember when you need a break take one! This isn’t about parenting perfectly it is about moving through a very difficult time.