By: Laura Demetrician
It is a constant struggle to muster up the energy to parent. Boundaries need to be stated, reinforced, restated, re-reinforced, and on and on it goes until you think you may keel over or have a stroke. Like I said, parenting is not for the faint of heart. It may be possible that some preemptive planning and work could make all of the difference for some children. We all have heard of time-outs and restrictions, but there is some work we could do to anticipate some behavior.
There seems to me to be a missing piece to disciplining and parenting that I have realized from sheer necessity. Both of my daughters are highly sensitive to their surroundings (Confession: Even a loud TV can send me over the edge, so I can’t blame their father on this one).
Maybe you have experienced the same thing. Children pick up stress, anxiety, tension, over-scheduling, a dirty house, noise, etc., and they are more prone to ACT OUT. For instance, when my husband and I are overly busy, they are more inclined to be grumpy and impatient. When the house is messy, they seem more easily distracted and lazy. I know these things are true for me, but as we mature, we find ways to cope with imperfect surroundings. But our children need our help to do their best!
So, here are a few suggestions. If your child has difficulty being in certain situations (loud concerts, crowded places, jam-packed days going from one place to another, cluttered room, etc.), assess if there is anything you can do to reduce the problem. Plan ahead and do errands during your lunch hour when they are at school so that you can give them more of your attention in the evenings. Or, do an experiment! If your kitchen is usually dirty when they do their homework, try keeping it de-cluttered and clean for 1 week and see if they take less time to complete their work. Have a conversation about it at the end of the week. Seek and find your child or teenager’s unique needs.
In situations that cannot be avoided, it is important to plan ahead. Just having conversations about stressors can relieve some anxiety for children. In the process, you are teaching them to be more aware internally and more proactive and assertive for things they need.