What to do when your kids are clingy, angry and lashing out
Posted on 11th January 2021 at 13:53
Families are experiencing more emotional outbursts from children of all ages in Lockdown. If you want to take the intensity out of them, or try to limit them as much as possible, firstly you need to understand why they might be happening, and secondly read on to find out what you can do about them.
Tantrums are a short-term energy releasing behaviour. Think of it as a boiling kettle letting off steam. The feeling of frustration and the inability to communicate their feelings – either because they don’t understand what they’re feeling but know they’re feeling something, or because they’re not being heard – must come out somewhere.
Lockdown leads to frustration and anger
Lockdown is an unusual situation, which has meant children have:
been socially isolated from their peers
had a change in routine and structure
been feeling anxious
feelings of loss and grief
parents who are displaying stress symptoms due to juggling lots of things at once
We are not born with self-control and younger children especially handle unusual or difficult situations with a ‘fight or flight’ response. They haven’t quite developed a way to regulate their feelings in a socially acceptable way.
Because this isn't their first Lockdown, children may also be angry that they've gotten the opportunity to get used to school, friends and activities again, only to have them taken away. Unfortunately it doesn't necessarily mean they've gotten used to being in Lockdown and that it should therefore be easier the second time round. It's actually a second round of loss.
How to support your child when they're angry
Remember to B.R.E.A.T.H.E.:
Be calm. Learn to pause before reacting.
Remove them from their situation to help them to calm down.
Explain that you can see they’re angry and you want to help them.
Acknowledge their feelings. (This doesn’t validate their behaviour, it shows empathy).
Then give them the opportunity to Talk while you listen.
Hug them to provide the security they might need.
Explain that their feelings are normal and ask them what they could have done differently.
Helping children to reflect on their actions and thinking about how you react will encourage them to approach similar feelings in the future. It may take some practice, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself!
Why is my child so clingy all of a sudden?
Have your children started climbing into your bed at night? Are they crying relentlessly at one parent leaving the house to go shopping? Is everything an issue, or are they talking with a permanent whinge? Maybe they have regressed a few years. You’re not alone. We’re calling it Lockdownitus!
What to do when children are clingy
1. A routine, which doesn’t have to be a strict one, will provide a sense of security, structure, and expectations. They need an emotional base. Simple things like breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtimes at the same time daily will provide a good framework.
2. Be present. Make time to give them stretches of uninterrupted parent-child time. Sit and read a book together, play a game, watch a film… and do something that is all about them. This is particularly important if you’re trying to work from home, as they do need some time with you, too.
3. Try to be calm. They’re very quick to pick up on your emotions that may make them uneasy and in need of reassurance.
4. Limit their exposure to news or talking about what’s been in the news. They are already aware of the virus, even if it’s just the basic level of having to wash their hands more often, and hearing about it constantly will only add to their preconceived ideas and is likely to make them anxious.
5. Remember that parents and siblings are their only sense of community right now.
Share this post: