Have you ever been confused about the behavior of your child? When you feel like he or she isn’t acting “normal” or the behavior is inappropriate for the situation at hand?
We’ve all done it. Looked at the person next to us and raised our eyebrows when suddenly our child did something… unexpected.
“I promise this is not how he normally acts”.
Just today, I arrived at the school to pick up my children from after-school care and my oldest daughter was yelling like Tarzan, spinning in circles, and making distorted faces in an out-of-control manner – traits she doesn’t normally exhibit in the middle of the lunch room. My first reaction was to feel annoyed that she was being crazy and acting “obnoxious” (please don’t judge me for feeling this way). However, when I stopped to think about it, I realized she has had a lot going on this week.
- She is settling into her new school year routine.
- She just found out she got a part in a local play after waiting for a nail-biting three days for the cast list to be posted.
- She has been up late the past two nights.
- Her body is growing and changing.
- She has had more snack foods at school to which her body isn’t accustomed
Basically, she is in a big transition period!
When I take a step back and zoom out on the situation, I realize this is her body’s way of handling the stress of change. Her nervous system is literally overflowing with all of the stimulation from classrooms, different foods, anxious waiting, and physical growth. Of course, she is going to act a bit “crazy”!
The question is, how can we as parents recognize when our children are going through a tough transition phase and help them to more gracefully navigate the shift?
Here are some signs that our children (of any age) may exhibit when their nervous systems are stressed:
- Emotional outbursts
- Trouble falling or staying asleep
- Aggressive behavior
- Craving more sugar
- Hives or rashes
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Trouble focusing
- Abnormal amounts of energy
- Short fuse or lack of patience that is out of character
- Stomach aches
- And more!
Now that we know what transitions can look like, how do we as parents help, encourage, and support our children during these sometimes difficult times?
- Prepare Them
Having open and honest conversations with children about upcoming transitions can help make them feel more heard and seen. Back to school coming soon? Talk to them about adjusting their sleep schedule, how to plan for the following day to make getting out the door less stressful, or simply going over the bus schedule can help educate them about what to expect. Allow them to ask questions, give feedback about what they think will work for them, and prepare them for the changes heading their way.
2. Allow Extra Time
Building in extra time during your day can help make transition times seem less intimidating. Know you need to be at the bus stop at 7:30 AM? Set your alarm slightly early the first couple of days, and make it a goal to be at the bus stop by 7:20 instead! This way, if you fall behind, you’ve allowed extra time so situations don’t become as stressful.
3. Maintain Consistency
Consistency is vital when making transitions in your day-to-day life. Things like making sure your children go to sleep or wake up around the same times every day or you leave your house to drop them off at school at the same time daily can make a huge difference. Children thrive when they have routines and know what to expect. As you make these transitions to new schedules, being consistent is key.
4. Name it to Tame it
If your children are feeling “off” or “out of sorts”, try to help by asking if there is anything wrong. Sometimes asking if there is a specific emotion or event that could be the culprit can be very helpful. For example, “Do you feel scared?” or “Do you feel like you have too many new expectations?” or “Is it difficult having a new teacher and new classmates?” can help them feel seen and heard. Sometimes, just figuring out the source of overwhelm can help them move through it.
5. Practicing Patience
It can be so hard to be patient when children are in transition mode. I’ve lived it and I’m far from perfect, but I have enough experience to be able to say that things go better when I take a deep breath and try to allow my children the space to process and work through the challenge than when I blow my top and add to their overwhelm. Try to remember that their actions are not indicative of a parental failure, but a sign that they feel safe asking you for help and support.
6. Emotional Balancing
Having a healthy emotional balance is imperative to expressing good physical health, and is necessary for growth and personal well-being. Experiencing negative thoughts or emotions is normal, but when we get “stuck” in a negative pattern, we may lose the ability to return to our normal, balanced state.
Emotions require a chemical cycle to be fully released from the body, and when that cycle is interrupted it causes physiological symptoms. Emotional balancing is the art of detecting, acknowledging, and releasing trapped emotions that were never properly processed. Our doctors use Neuro Emotional Technique (NET), Koren Specific Technique (KST), and their own personal gifts of detecting emotional stressors to help patients peel back layers of emotions that inhibit them from living their best lives.
From Emotional Balancing to Chiropractic Care, Mind and Body Family Wellness is here to help make these transition times more smooth, and less stressful. Click here to schedule your appointment today.
~ Dr. Jessica Tallman