Wondering how to avoid the dreaded after school meltdowns? First, it’s important to understand why kids often struggle when they get home from school: Kids are under an unbelievable amount of pressure today. Academics in school are rigorous, there aren’t enough hours in the day to play and release energy and our expectations as a society continue to crawl higher and higher. Those things, coupled with an increased knowledge in grown up things (thanks to YouTube and social media sites), and so many of our children end their days tired and stressed.
After School Meltdowns: Why They Happen
Many children successfully hold it all together during the day, but quickly unravel the second the school day is over and they’re in the safety of their own home. There’s a reason for this: Like adults, most kids need a second to decompress once their day is over, and without that time, they meltdown. Additionally, kids often hold emotions and worries in until they’re around safe people (here’s a great article on after school meltdowns and why they happen). Here are a few things to help prevent the after school blues and avoid meltdowns after school!
- Greet them with a smile: It sounds silly, but too often we grab our kids from school and fall into the trap of drilling them just to catch up and hear about their day. It can feel off-putting for a child to have to face a million questions after a long day. Keep it simple, and when you see your child after school, smile and say something like “I missed you today!” This small sentiment sets a positive, loving tone, and gives your child time to feel connected to you after not seeing you all day (it also may trick your brain into happiness!).
- Let them relax: We live in a fast-paced society, and that often means grabbing kids from school and darting off to their dance class/soccer game/chess club practice. Kids need time to relax, and can benefit tremendously from unstructured time by themselves or with their friends. Include time in your after school routine to let your child rest, unwind and decompress.
- Put your phone down: We spend so much time worrying about how much time our kid’s look at screens, but have you ever stopped to think about how much you might be looking at your phone or ipad? Many of us don’t even realize how often we are glancing down, and this can impact our children a lot. Our kids are tiny humans, and they need to feel heard and respected. Make eye contact with them when they’re talking, listen and engage.
- Feed them: This is probably a no-brainer, but don’t forget to give your kids a healthy and hearty after school snack! Going to school and learning all day takes an incredible amount of energy, and if your kids are anything like my own, they come home starving! Try to pair a protein, carbohydrate and a fat together to give them a nutritional boost and fill their tummies. Crackers and hummus, apples and yogurt or celery with peanut butter and raisins are great options to offer.
- Routine: Often times, kids have homework, and a lot of the time, they don’t want to do it! Create a routine that works for your family that encourages your child to get their homework done with minimal fighting or push-back (here are some tips to help your child with homework). One suggestion is to let your child come home and decompress and chat with you as they eat their snack, and then dive into their homework. Once their work is completed they are free to play, exercise, or go to extracurricular activities.
After School Meltdowns: Conquer the After-School Blues!
School and after-school activities can be draining for kids, and when they come home, it’s common for attitudes to meltdown. Implementing a few changes can help limit Kindergarten meltdowns after school, while also helping you unwind. They even can be a great time of fun and bonding!