A barometer is a scientific instrument used to measure atmospheric pressure, specifically used to forecast weather and determine altitude. A barometer child is one who picks up the tension in the family and reacts to it. The child is not mature enough to comment that the family situation is somewhat volatile and some self-care or activity is needed to bring back calmness in the house. All that he/she can do is whine, cry, misbehave and refuse to cooperate as a reaction to the prevailing family tension.
A child’s world is very small. Parents are their 100% and they don’t find it necessary to look beyond mom and dad to explore the world. Kids are happy when parents are happy and feel sad when parents are sad. A kid’s life is as simple as that. They love seeing their parents have great fun, laughing, giggling, being animated, energetic and chuckling in life. This makes them feel at ease and satisfy their inner thoughts that everything is right in life.
The world seems perfect when parents seem happy and content. There is nothing to fear, no skeletons in the closet, no threats around and the world is a safe place to reside. When parents feel sad or anxious, kids feel responsible as they think that parents are sad because they are bad.
A parent’s mood is the barometer for a child’s life’s meaning, its ambience, security and tone. A small laugh from their mom or their dad’s thundering laughter makes children feel safe in life. Maternal depression affects children deeply and kids become unresponsive, less cognitive, anxious and withdrawn. In such situations a barometer child cannot tell what’s wrong but only act awkward, chaotic and feel different. These children are at an increased risk of succumbing to depression themselves if they are not diverted from such depressive surrounding. Depression can be extremely threatening to family peace which is clearly explained at www.firsteatright.com. A barometer child can be handled well in any of the ways given below:
See the bigger picture
Dealing with a misbehaving child then and there is the right approach to parenting. But, if this misbehavior seems to occur quite often, it’s time to ponder upon what is causing it and if the family unrest is responsible in any way for the kid’s behavior.
A calmer environment at home can ease things. You can get some external help with child care, share few responsibilities with your spouse or work out ways on how to speak with your spouse in a much more relaxed way to ease the tension at home. Try to take care of yourself too by sleeping well, eating properly, exercising more and spending some time with your friends to take better care of your kids.
Share your feelings with your child
In times of difficulty, it is appreciable that you talk to your child in an age-appropriate way about what is going on and what is your state of mind right then. This does not mean that you take this as an opportunity to pour out your sorrows to your children. If your kid feels that something is not in place or fishy, explaining what is going on in the family will help your child deal with the situation in a much-composed way than otherwise. Sharing feelings, talking about them and giving solutions for how to cope with them can provide your child with a critical learning opportunity.
Follow Time-based routines
A child feels secure when he/she experiences daily routine activities without hindrance even during stressful times. This is comforting as it gives the child a sense of predictability when other life situations are uncertain. Routine bedtime, playtime and school activities make the child feel that the world is after all, a good place to reside.
Don’t set expectations
Office stress, unhappy situation at home or personal fatigue calls for a break. Understand that this isn’t the time to start training your child on a new habit formation-potty training or setting the table. Revisit your parent goals-Are you doing certain things simply because you have been doing them from the start or your parents have done them to you? If you find them unnecessary, its high time to get rid of those practices that take away your precious time.
Find solutions along with your children
Rather than asking your child to simply stop fighting with his/her sibling as a cooperative gesture to the family unrest, you can ask your child to do simple things that can make your day better-“ Give your dad a big hug once he returns back from office”, “Help me set the dining table to have a candle light dinner” or “Ensure to get ready to the swimming class on time” are great motivators as children too feel good when they are able to contribute something to ease the stressful situation at home.
Rather than looking at a barometer child as a nuisance, when parents start looking at them in a positive way, everything takes a turn for the better. They are actually a gift of nature who alert us when there is an emotional strife amongst family members and enable us to make positive changes in our life.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.