Being Overwhelmed Doesn’t Look Like We Think

I am always the one more visibly excited than my children at the beginning of a new schedule. I have mentioned before that I write out our schedule for 6 – 8 weeks at a time.

As a lover of organization and learning, this is usually the highlight of my day. I look forward fondly to this time every two months or so.

My kids? Not so much.

They like learning – don’t doubt that. Especially since I take their specific styles and interests into consideration when I create the curriculum.

But their behavior when I tell them what we will be working on is far from expected. Picture it if you will: here I am, excited, looking forward to getting started and them, lolling about, complaining that “It’s going to be too much work.”

It’s enough for me to label them lazy. It’s enough to make me angry, to make me feel like I’ve been insulted.

Until I realize this: they’re not being lazy. They’re feeling overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed children do not look like overwhelmed adults.

I have often noted this while doing math with them. When they don’t get the concept, they will often twist in their seat and bodily act out what they’re feeling in their mind. The discomfort they show will be physical. 

My six year old son who is learning to read – when he can’t sound out a word – will actually laugh hysterically.

If I hadn’t seen this often, I would have pegged it for laziness, or worse, goofing off.

“Pay attention!” I would admonish him.

But I am beginning to understand it for what it is. It is not an attack on me or my teaching. It is simply their trepidation at the beginning of something new.

They will grow into it, no doubt.

But at the moment, all they are is overwhelmed. And this is what it looks like.

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Author: Purva Brown

Writer / blogger at - unapologetically blending two seeming opposites.

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