When The Kids Have Lost Their Minds and What to Do About It

Updated: Apr 8

We have all been there.

It’s the days leading up to an anticipated birthday, holiday or trip. The kids seem to lose their minds. They aren’t themselves. In the excited anticipation of an impending event, they seem to lose all sense and judgement. They can’t seem to focus, are hyper, daydreamy, and uncharacteristically impulsive.

This is common. Frustrating, but common. It happens and there is really little that can be done. If they are happy about the event, their excitement should be considered a positive thing, even though, when there is school work, chores, and other responsibilities that need tending to. Life doesn’t end just because of Christmas, but a compromise can be sought when the kids have lost their minds to excitement, and nothing is going to get done.

What You Can Do

It is very easy to want to force, push, and demand that the kids right themselves and get serious. After all, you all have things that need to get done. However, when the pressure and frustration begin to build, I implore you to take a moment and consider the following…

  1. Happy anticipation is a good thing. Your children are young only once. Let them enjoy their excitement. Keeping this in mind should ease some of the stress. Listen to their chirpy voices, laughs, and goofiness. Enjoy it. It won’t last forever. Your home will be all too quiet before you know it.

  2. If you must get school work done, consider making it a “review day,” or “free day,” where the kids practicing their math facts, reading free choice books, reviewing memorization work, or playing learning and board games. I do not recommend the screen, that seems to exacerbate the most annoying behaviors. Instead, you may opt for documentaries, and learning programs to maintain productivity and your sanity. More ideas.

  3. How productive do you expect to be when your kids are as good as gone? Sometimes, your best laid plans just aren’t going to happen, and that is ok. Homeschooling (and parenting for that matter) requires a certain level of flexibility and self-forgiveness. Not being able to get your kids to knuckle down and focus the day before a big event is not a failure. Being aware of your children’s behavior, the reasons behind it, and being able to adjust in support of their immediate emotional needs is what really great parents do.

Ultimately, you know them best and what is best for them, so trust your judgement. But when it gets to be too much, don’t be afraid to let it go for the day. It will be there waiting when you all are ready to pick it back up.

Common Times Requiring Adjustments

  • The week leading up to Christmas

  • The day before and after birthdays or large celebrations

  • The day before a vacation or trip

  • The day before company comes to stay

  • The days or months leading up to and the first few months after a birth of a sibling

On a side note, December is a common time to nix academics altogether. Many homeschoolers take December off from homeschooling, but remain productive in other ways.

The Other Side of the Same Coin

Kids zoning out to a point of no return isn’t always indicative of good things awaiting them. Sometimes, it is the traumas of real life that has them acting out, unfocused, and acting uncharacteristically. Death, divorce, illness, profound disappointments, and depression can make homeschooling near impossible.

The same adjustments and flexibility apply in these situations. A gentle and easy approach is often what is most needed when a child is preoccupied or grieving. At the end of the day, their emotional health is more important than academics, so put them aside for awhile and tend to your child’s wellbeing and healing. They will have plenty of time to catch up. In fact, they will likely catch up faster than if they are forced to school through it. Schooling through a trauma works in some cases, but in most, it results in students falling behind anyway.

About the author

Patrice Davila has homeschooled her three children through 18 Christmas’, 21 summer vacations, a divorce, 3 deaths, and 2 chronic illnesses, and she has seen her classroom students through much more.

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