Helping kids with overload

We have all been there. You’re at the store or some other very public venue when your child takes the opportunity to throw a colossal fit. There will always be someone there to make us feel as though we are failing at raising our children or that there is something inherently wrong with their behavior, but let’s be honest, kids are kids.

Sometimes, we have a perfect stroll through the store where our children accept “no,” and sometimes we must carry them out under one arm as they scream and kick.

When children behave in this manner, we must remember they are trying to communicate with us. Often the environment itself is overstimulating and any additional stress (including the dreaded “no” when they ask for yet another toy) might push them over the limit. It might be nearly impossible to communicate with them effectively at this point, and therefore our focus may turn to surviving this trip and preparing for the next.

As parents, we must find ways to meet our children’s unique needs to put them in the optimal state for entering a stressful environment. Some children might need warnings about an upcoming trip and others might need to sit in the cart wearing sunglasses and noise cancelling headphones. These families may get disapproving looks as they go, but they are doing what they must to survive. Anyone judging those actions clearly does not understand the needs of that child or their parent’s desire to help them feel as comfortable as possible.

When the inevitable happens, despite our best efforts to prepare our children for a stressful situation, we can only hope there will be other parents there who understand our needs. Let’s hope they will give us the space we need to hold and talk quietly to our children, offer help if they can, or to hold the door open as we rush out into the fresh air. Let us use this new year to do the best we can for all of our children, but also to accept that we might fail. We can only hope that when that happens, we will catch another parent cheering us on.