Angry Kids

If you’re like me, you are dealing with angry kids right now – if not always, then at least some of the time. They miss their friends and teachers, and want to play with someone other than you or their siblings. Are your kids just generally grumpy about life? Mine are!

Whether they are 5, 8 or 16 (as all of my kids are), or anywhere in between or below – this whole pandemic experience is hard for kids. It’s hard for us!

Are you angry? I’ve had my moments. Is it any wonder our kids have theirs?

I read another blogger’s description of this last week, saying that each of us “cracks” a little bit at all different times. Yes! Absolutely, we do.

During this Children’s Mental Health Week, it is a good time to remember that our kids are dealing with all of this pandemic stuff too. And we need to help them.

This is definitely a marathon, and we are not nearly to the end of it all.

Each of my kids has coped in their own ways. Our little has come into our room to snuggle or sleep with us nearly every night for the last month (and we had finally moved away from that before this happened!). Our middle has been mostly good, but yells at me randomly and has absolutely no patience waiting for one of us to answer him if we’re helping someone else, and has been progressively delaying any schoolwork that isn’t precisely “fun” each day.

Sunshine is the best medicine – for all of us!

And, the teenager. She has had good days and bad. Days on end where she plays with her siblings and they all pick out movies to watch together or she takes each of them to get a treat randomly. And days when she picks fights with us for no discernable reason whatsoever.

Is this different than regular teenagerness? I would argue yes – and no. We have those random arguments here and there anyway. We usually have the usual teenage ups and downs. But the other night’s shouting match out of the blue because we asked her to join us for takeout and a picnic? No idea.

So, angry kids.

What to do? Stay calm. Keep being patient with them. Love them! And just be there.

Is this easy? No way! But, we have to be the stable one they continue to turn to.

I’ve said it before – our kids know that we are their safe spaces. We’ve had our share of meltdowns from each of them when they are simply overwhelmed from busy days. And, as I talked about last August, all of us sometimes need a Time Out to step back and re-set our attitudes. This is true now more than ever!

All of us need a time out sometimes. And kids still need boundaries. Take breaks when you need them – and give your kids those breaks too!

We have been home together for seven weeks now – almost two months. By my assessment, our family has done pretty well overall. Our little and middle still play with each other for hours each day – with breaks from each other and special activities for each of them here and there. The oldest is still keeping up with school and her animal projects for Fair (which may or may not happen, but she is raising and training them, and these are good skills to have regardless).

Even so, we have bouts of angry kids. So, I have been trying to come up with some new and different activities to keep them busy and give them things to look forward to.

Our kids need us to show them love, even more than normal.

Two weeks ago, I mended some pants and a hole in a sleeping bag, and the kids begged me to teach them how to sew. I then delegated all mending of stuffies to our 8-year old son – and it was the best! He patched every hole in every stuffed animal they could find.

Last week, when I came up with the idea for celebrating Spring for May Day, my kids loved making paper flowers for our front windows and everyone else I could think of. Did they get tired of doing it? Yep. But after awhile we circled back and did some more. And that little craft/art/happiness project lasted all week.

Friday, I told each of them they could invite one friend over for a sprinkler and outside snacks party (our official Stay at Home order changed last week to a “Safer at Home” model). At some point, friends, we all still have to live and go on. We need to be careful! But we need to live. So, I’m trying to ease into some social interactions for the kids while still being safe. Hence, an outdoor backyard play time with sprinklers (and water balloons) on a hot day.

Get outside and find the fun!

I think we all need things like this to look forward to!

I’ve coped by having Zoom happy hours with friends and colleagues from around the country. It’s not the same, but I know I won’t be traveling to other major cities any time soon. So, I can live with continuing to do that.

Our kids crave social interaction. They’ve done ok with Zoom teacher meetings, Facetime with the grandparents, and catching up with friends on the small screen. That is not the same for them. They are used to playing and building and challenging each other.

Hence, the angry kids that I’ve seen more and more as this has continued. So, come up with ways that they can see their friends – even if you take a walk and chat with another family from a distance. They can talk and catch up a bit in person.

They miss sports. They miss playing and running and doing things. Fundamentally, they miss their friends.

So, how can we find new ways for some outside interactions while we still try to keep everyone safe? Get creative! Set up a neighborhood scavenger hunt. Make paper flowers (or some other artistic/creative Spring thing) and take them to neighbors. Teach your kids a new skill – and expect that you may get nominated to teach other kids when we’re all allowed to be together again (several friends have already asked me to teach their kids to sew).

Set up the sprinklers, have a water gun fight, let the kids set up a monster blanket fort, or go fishing.

Our son, fishing.

Above all, try to make things fun. We are all doing this thing, and it’s hard. All of us are stressed and have our meltdown moments. Take 5 minutes (or an hour if you can escape your kids that long) here and there to re-set your own mind…whether it’s reading a book, a magazine or a video chat with a friend. Use that time to chill for yourself, so you can go back and give your kids all the love and patience they need.

Because we’re all working with angry kids, and trying to help them get over their anger.

As parents, they love us and are glad to have us all home, but we are not the same as their friends. We know that. They know that. So, try to make the best of things and give them activities that make it a little less hard. And have some fun with them while you’re at it. We deserve the fun, too!

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