How to Help an Overwhelmed Child


Many children at some time or another begin to feel overwhelmed. Whether this is one day a week, once a month, or a few times a year. This is completely normal.

As a parent, you often feel overwhelmed at times yourself. Too much to do and too little time to do it, as the saying goes.

However, more recently, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more and more children across the United States are beginning to feel overwhelmed.


This could be a result of many things, including not seeing friends, falling out of routine, worrying about school or exams, or generally being in a rut. You’ve likely experienced a few of these consequences yourself, too.

This article will provide actionable advice on how to help an overwhelmed child, from ensuring they get enough sleep to sharing your own feelings, here’s what you need to know.

Create a sleep schedule.

Too little sleep affects our physical and mental state. Once the pandemic struck, schools were forced to close. For many children, this derailed their current routines. There is no longer a set time to get up or go to bed, for that matter.

Frequently getting too little sleep, or waking and sleeping at irregular times may contribute to feelings of overwhelming-ness.

Therefore, we recommend setting a sleep schedule and actually sticking to it. This does not have to be as strict as a school schedule, but should still have your child up at least before noon.

It’s not all about work; you must relax, too.

For many kids, they are now working at home, outside of their usual learning environment. This is not only disruptive but may also contribute to feelings of overwhelmingness also.

It’s important to let them know it’s not all about work, you must relax, too. Letting your hair down once in a while is essential to maintaining a positive mental state. Whether that’s an hour or two on the Xbox, playing football in the garden, or watching their favorite TV show.

Alongside setting a sleep schedule, you should set a work schedule (that is if they are working from home).

Make this schedule as similar to their school one as possible, although perhaps a little shorter. This will allow them to return to a somewhat familiar schedule, allowing them to get back on track and out of the gutter, so to say.

Surprise them!

We all love surprises, right? Yes! Often, it’s the little things that keep us going, especially during such tough and unprecedented times.

Do they have a favorite game, comic, or sport? It doesn’t have to be big but the thought counts, lighting a smile on their face during such tough times.

Share how you deal with being overwhelmed.

As a parent, it’s no secret that you likely feel overwhelmed from time to time. Probably at least once a week, if we’re being honest.

We recommend sharing with your child how you deal with these feelings; whilst this may be difficult to talk about, sharing this with your child lets them know they’re not in this alone. A little guiding light here and there is the secret sauce to a positive mental state and reduced feelings of overwhelmingness.

You don’t just have to tell them either, you could perhaps do it with them. Whether that’s a light bit of gardening, pampering your nails, or watching your favorite comedy, let them in on your de-stress routine – they’ll definitely appreciate it!

Don’t over-analyze the situation.

As a parent, it’s easy to over-analyze a situation, including that of your child feeling overwhelmed.

However, sometimes it’s important not to over-analyze, to take a step back and let it take its natural course. Remember, kids, especially teenagers are prone to mood swings, that might be exactly what they’re going through.

Give it some time, check-in every now and then but-in a non-invasive manner. Ask them how they are, not why they’re feeling down. This keeps the conversation positive without it being intrusive, allowing you to gain further insight whilst giving your child room, which is likely all they need.

Let them know that help is available.

Although your child may know deep down that help is available, often they are too embarrassed or shy to ask for it. They think they can conquer the world themselves but the truth is they can’t. None of us can.

Let your child know that help is available, whenever they need it. Whether it’s just someone to speak to, vent to or an escape from the daily stress, it’s reassuring and comforting to know.

Besides, one day they might return the favor. Perhaps when you’re old and grey and in a home, but the same applies…

Do a brain dump.

Your child is likely already familiar with brain dumps, doing these at school. However, performing a brain dump for yourself is a great way to get everything off your mind, reducing these overwhelming feelings.

You can do a brain dump with them, you write down everything on your mind, and they write down everything on theirs. You don’t have to share ideas if they don’t want to; however, performing this task with someone else lets them know they are not alone.

We all feel overwhelmed at times, it’s important to remember that.

The bottom line.

As a result of the recent coronavirus pandemic, it’s normal to feel slightly overwhelmed. Our regular routines have been derailed, we’re unable to leave the house regularly, and we’re all forced under one roof, all day.

This is irregular.

However, if your child is currently feeling overwhelmed, or you think they are, it’s important to speak to them, letting them know help is available if they need it. Whilst they may tell you to “bog off,” deep down, they’ll appreciate it.

Likewise, be sure to implement the tips highlighted in this article, helping to maintain a somewhat normal schedule while reducing stress, anxiety, and feelings of overwhelmingness in your child.

Kelly Hater has over 15 years of coaching experience along with a B.S. in Health Promotion specialized in Exercise Science. She specializes in helping clients overcome mom burnout, providing a clear, decisive plan that leads her clients on a path of success. Her clients no longer let mom guilt steal their identity and goals. Moms deserve to be happy and live a fulfilling life. She personally has overcome overwhelming struggles herself. Get the accountability needed to take action. As a mom of two, she gets it!


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