How to Slow down a Child who Rushes through everything

It’s breakfast time, you set the table and call the family over for breakfast. Your child seems distracted but agrees to join you at the table. He sits at the edge of his seat and scarfs his food down so fast that he is up and moving again before you even sit down. You sit there wondering why he always rushes through everything.  It’s a weekend, he has nowhere to go, why does he feel the need to rush.

This is a common problem for parents and could have many causes. In this article we will explore three common causes and solutions. It would be best to determine the reason for your child rushing through things before trying to solve it. This allows you to have a targeted approach and not cause new problems by trying to change things that are working fine.

Consider the signs and symptoms listed below as well as watching your child before and after the behavior in order to try and determine what his intention might be.

Modeling

Children look up to parents, respect  and often want to be like them. Parents often work long hours, wake up early, and rush through the day to accomplish all the required tasks. This is a recipe for a child to learn that rushing is the way that things are done. Parents consider the weekend to be the time to relax and slow down, but children don’t often recognize the difference.

Signs and Symptoms:

Family wide fast-paced life throughout the week

Child occasionally looks at parent for cues

If you believe that your child is rushing through things for this reason you should examine your life to see what you might do to change this pattern. Explore your priorities, is it possible that weekday rushing is not actually necessary? Is it possible that the family could wake up earlier so that rushing is not needed? Is it possible that certain parts of the daily routine are rushed because other parts are not structured effectively?

Environment

The environment that you live in has a profound effect on the way that you live and how you feel. It is easy to forget that your children are effected in the same way. Over-stimulation is a major problem in America, that includes everything from bright colors everywhere to the sound of the TV constantly running in the background. Any type of over-stimulation can cause children to rush.

Signs and Symptoms:

Behavior is environment specific (lots of color, sounds, smells, textures, etc)

Behavior slows down in a natural setting (woods, parks, etc.)

Examine the environment when you see this behavior, as well as the environment from right before the activity in question. Sometimes an environmental effect can carry over to the next location. If there is excitable music, constant noise from the TV/radio, bright colors, odd textures, or anything else that could excite the mind then you probably have an environmental problem. You can either change the environment itself or move the activity to an environment that is more conducive to your child’s mind quieting down.

Distraction

Environmental concerns could be considered a form of distraction, but since  that sort of distraction was covered, this is referring to internal distractions. Children have very active minds and they can occasionally get stuck on thoughts, focusing on something that has happened or something that is going to happen. Focusing on something from the past will usually lead to them moving slower, while excitement over something coming up can lead to rushing through various tasks.

Signs and Symptoms:

Child will hesitate to join you for activity in question

Child will rush to something after completing activity in question

Child will talk or whine about wanting to do something

Be sure to consider the environment first. Often environmental factors like the TV can show the same sort of signs and symptoms, as they get excited about the next show or missing a part of the show that is on. Siblings or friends at the table are also an environmental concern that could easily become a distraction. To work on distractions try the following three household policies, each one will encourage your child to be more present in the moment:

Create a list of certain tasks/activities that must be complete before talking about the rest of the day.

When signs of anxiety show up ask your child what they feel emotionally, physically, and what they are thinking about at the moment.

Set time frames for certain activities like breakfast so that they might finish fast but the family does not move to the next activity until the time frame is over.

It can be hard to slow down children who rush through things, but if you remember that they have a reason for doing it then you can work with them to help them find an alternative. Watch for their intentions, they will always have a positive intention; if offered a better way to get what they want or need they will respond.