We all get overwhelmed. It happens. It’s OK.

The more important part is how we deal with being overwhelmed. As adults, we struggle to manage our feelings. How do you handle it when your kids get overwhelmed? It’s so important to teach them how to deal with being overwhelmed. Think about it. How have you talked to your kids about dealing with struggle? Just saying things like “figure it out” or “it happens to everyone” doesn’t help. We as parents need to teach them how to process being overwhelmed.

I have learned for myself that ‘one thing at a time’ lets me focus on the task at hand. I need to demonstrate how I get through an overwhelming task to teach my sons to get through the same thing. Talking about the process and how I’m feeling let’s them know that how they are feeling about the same task is ok.

A perfect example was this…

Yep. Overwhelming.

My four year old could say he was overwhelmed but he told me it was ‘too much’ and he didn’t know how to clean it. I get it. I let him struggle for a while and then I saw him give up.

Did I clean it for him? Absolutely not. He made the mess, he can clean it up. But instead of telling him over and over to “clean his room” and watch him become too overwhelmed to even start… I used it as a moment to teach.

How many times have you heard parents get to the point they are mad about the mess, and it creates larger problems? I’ve been there, it’s no fun for anyone. But until I teach him how work through it, I can’t assume he knows how to. Remember, he’s still only 4.

We talked about how he was feeling, and that it was the mess was OK, as long as he knew he needed to clean it up.

I sat on his bed and asked….”what’s one thing you could pick up and put away right now?”

Focus on one thing. Not the whole picture.

I had to repeat this question a few times before he could give me an answer.

“Train tracks?” – Great start. I cheered him on picking up and putting away his train tracks. Then when that was done….I asked the same question.

“What’s one thing you could pick up and put away right now?”

We continued doing this process until it was clean. I didn’t pick anything up. I only helped him through the process. I’m sure we will need to do this again, but I want him to know…he can do it. One thing at a time.

You can see it’s not perfect. There was still stuff that needed to be done, but it was a vast difference from the beginning. In case you are wondering… yep…that’s balls of random play-doh. I let him vacuum it up too. The first to last picture probably took about 15 minutes.

He did it all. No yelling, no threatening to throw toys away, no early bedtime… just working through how he was feeling about the mess and teaching him how I handle those same feelings.

One thing at a time.


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