Tips for helping your child navigate tough times
As parents, we can often sense when our children have a fever just from a glance across the room. We recognize the look in their eyes. We have an instinctual feeling that has developed over the years.
What can be more challenging for parents is sensing when their child is having what author Kim John Payne calls a “soul fever.” This is the overwhelmed feeling children develop as a result of living in an over-scheduled, over-stimulated, confusing world. It can be a toddler struggling with the birth of a new sibling, a teenager longing to fit in with the popular crowd, or anything in between.
You may be asking, “How can I tell if my child is overwhelmed and what can I do if he is?” According to Payne’s book Simplicity Parenting, regardless of the cause of your child’s soul fever, these 5 steps will allow you to help her navigate this normal, inescapable part of growing up:
1) Notice the symptoms. Look for abnormal behaviors such as a teen arguing with close friends or a toddler becoming hypersensitive to an itchy pair of socks.
2) Quiet things down. A few quiet days, away from extracurricular activities and daily routines can help most children feel better. This may mean skipping soccer or ordering pizza for dinner so you can devote your time to your child. The key is that a shift is made in the normal flow of family activities so the child can, as Payne says, “loosen an emotional knot.”
3) Bring them close. Give your child one-on-one time during these quiet days. Special fishing trips, shopping trips, or movie nights are beneficial during this time. Participating in an activity your child rarely has time for on a regular basis can help him regain the feeling of control over his life.
4) Let it run its course. You must acknowledge your child’s discomfort and offer her support as she goes through this time. Your support won’t “fix” the issue; it simply gives your child a safe place to process the things that are bothering her.
5) Monitor the return. Can you ease back into extracurricular activities or cut some out completely for your overwhelmed pre-teen? Can you avoid crowded playdates with your shy toddler? As a parent, you must trust your instincts and do what is best for your child, regardless of social pressure to do otherwise.
The idea of taking a day off work to give your child a little extra attention can seem like an impossible feat for some parents. But, as Payne says, the more adamant a parent is about not taking the quiet days off, the more likely it is that both the parent and child need to “take a step out of their everyday lives, toward each other.”
Ms. Elizabeth is our director and fully believes in providing each child an individualized education that allows freedom for creativity and imagination while still acquiring the necessary skills to be successful in the world.