After the Fireworks

July 5, 2018

 

The festivities of summer - especially those big ones like Independence Day - can make it feel like the season is a three month long playdate. Foods are different. Children may be more active. There are noises and crowds and excitement that make each day a little less typical than the one that came before it. For adults, we can regulate how to pace ourselves during seasons like this. But for children, especially for very young children, the ability to choose to slow down or sit out a game or two may not be quite so reliable. 

 

If you find your child's summer schedule to be more active than at other times of the year, remind yourself that you are their balance. In loud environments, you need to be quieter, whispering in your child's ear instead of yelling across the room. In agitated environments, you need to be more calm, modeling a steady movement through even the most chaotic of scenes. In crowds, you have need to be the singular oasis, the person who will walk away to another space to give your child some time away from the commotion.

 

While your own patience or exhaustion might wear you down, remember that the behaviors that may be most frustrating to you in your child are least likely to respond to anger or public shaming. When your child is unable to manage all the different stimuli around them at once, it does no good to respond as though their chaotic behavior is intentional. Instead, if you see your child losing their cool, step in as a cool head. Whisper quietly in their ear to come with you, and lead your child to a more tranquil place to catch their breath and talk through what changes in behavior they need to demonstrate. Children who are overwhelmed may look angry or sad. They may yell or throw tantrums. They may be openly defiant or simply ignore adults. Each behavior is one that's best responded to privately, quietly and compassionately. 

 

Remember that balance in interventions big and small: the response to a screaming child is not to scream, but to whisper. Likewise, the response to a wild, busy festivity day is not another one right on its heels. Sandwich exciting days with more restful times. Drink more water. Move more slowly. And remember that you can only help your child to balance by being the counter to their chaos. 

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