These past few weeks I have found myself saying to friends, “I am just SO busy!”  The response is always, “Me too!”

Parenting these days is busier and more “pressurized” than ever before:  Driving kids to activities, working countless hours, taking care of the house, meals, yard work, homework and much, much more.  I asked my husband “Were you out of town last week?”  He wasn’t (!) but I literally couldn’t remember if he was home or not.  Needless to say my kids have started acting out a bit more in the past few weeks as well.  Is there a correlation?  You betcha!

Human beings are wired to be connected with others, and as such, when our kids are feeling disconnected due to our “busy-ness”, behavior challenges abound.

Most of us have been there in one form or another:  We just left work, picked up the kids, went straight to soccer and are now rushing to prepare dinner. Your normally very capable child is trying to squeeze in his homework, when he starts asking you repeatedly for help and/or whining that he “can’t do it”.   We try to put him off (I have got to get this dinner done!) but his need for help and the whining continues to escalate. (Sometimes along with rolling on the floor like my kids do).

This escalation in behavior and whining are pointing to a need.   Right now he is probably feeling very disconnected from you and demanding help and attention is the only way he knows how to stop the feeling.

Of course when he is exhibiting this behavior our buttons get pushed and we just want it to stop, but pushing away, yelling or saying stop! can only exacerbate the problem.  Below I list 5 possible helpful tools:

  1. First, look deeper to see if you can see the need behind the behavior.  Has there been any connected time for you and your child that day?  Have there been moments of being fully engaged?  Could it be possible to put dinner on warm for 5 minutes to sit down and reconnect?  Even 5 minutes of connection can work to reduce the behavior.
  2. Second, if you cannot stop what you are doing, provide empathy along with your limit.  “I understand you want me to help you right now, but I cannot.”  “I will be happy to help you when I can really focus on you; what else can you do until I have time to assist?”  And follow through…
  3. Third, give a hug.  Even if you might have every button you own being pushed right now, try a hug.  There is no better form of parent/child connection and it will make you both feel better.
  4. Fourth, problem solve with your child on ways in which the schedule can work better so that everyone can have more connected time.  I was surprised when my daughter said she didn’t want to take gymnastics anymore because it was “too much time” and she didn’t have time to play with her sister.
  5. And finally, take care of yourself and give yourself some “time out” so that you feel more willing and able to have some time in.

I hope this helps!   As always, feel free to post comments!