How to Handle After School Meltdowns
It’s that time of the day again and school is out in five minutes and you are wondering how your child will be on the way home from school. Is he or she going to babble away, have an attitude, cry, sulk or tell you they hate you? Some kids take the school bus home because the school is too far from home and others go directly to an after-school program until their parents get home from work. Wherever your child is after school, they still go through a meltdown. Kids are pent up most of the day and have to follow rules, do homework, schoolwork and have an 8 hour day just like mom and dad. At 7 am some kids are sitting in English class still trying to wake up. Do you think you are the only parent that has a meltdown with their child? No, you are not! Kids have to be on their best behavior and perform all day long and they know if they vent at school, most likely they will be bullied or made fun of. They wait until they get home and take it out on you and the rest of the family. Kindergarten isn’t like it used to be in the ’60s with nap time, chocolate milk, and recess. In the late 20th century, kindergarteners often missed recess because the curriculum was written with the same expectations as a first grader. Teachers expect your child to be reading by the end of kindergarten.
Generally, every child no matter what the age is just plain tired by the end of the day. They want to come home and play but they have homework, maybe after school activities, and projects, chores, etc to take care of. Their little worlds can be quite overwhelming at such a young age. Now that you have that figured out, you have to decide what you and your child are going to do about the meltdowns. Just remember these meltdowns are common and normal and get better with age.
Feed your kids
Kids are hungry when they get home from school and feeding them should be the first thing on your agenda. You certainly will be surprised how fast they bounce back to normal.
Don’t feed into meltdowns
You can feed your kids but don’t feed them with fire. When your kid is cranky and pushing your buttons before the feeding time, be calm because becoming angry will only make your kid turn into a tornado.
Delay Homework, keep after School Activities to a Minimum
If doing homework works for you right after school, great you got this but generally, most kids need time to unwind. Take an hour or two and don’t sign up for tons of after-school activities in the early years of school. It’s too much for younger kids to be active and moving for too many hours in a day, five days a week.
Give them Space
You can let them do whatever they want for a half hour or so including playing video games, TV and whatever else they do in order to unwind. Stay away unless they ask you to join them.
Save the Questions for later
Parents always want to know everything that happened at school for the day. It probably is because you leave your child with a complete set of strangers all day and not knowing what really happens. Most kids won’t give you much of an answer when they first get home, but it’s better to let them unwind and ask questions later. They might surprise you and volunteer some information.
Make sure You are around when they are ready
Your child might need a hug or maybe you can give them a squeeze, but then again maybe not. Make sure you do reconnect with them at some point after they have gotten home. Don’t force the issue until they are ready. There are some kids that handle the transition between school and home easier than others. In addition, there are just as many other kids that think this transition is a huge challenge. If your child falls into the latter category, don’t compare. The truth is all kids are different, and these after-school meltdowns are very common. It’s just many people don’t talk about this subject.
Parents should really share this subject with other parents because sometimes these meltdowns can feel like a lonely road. You might feel like you have done something wrong when you see this day in and day out for a while. Learn to accept this fact that this is just how kids are and then figure out ways to make it easier on all of you.
Anyone who has just begun this stage with their children should be happy to know that the meltdowns do diminish with age and a plan. It definitely gets better as they get older. Eventually, they are not as exhausted from their day and the kids can even come home and make their own snacks after school.
Just hang in there, do what needs to be done to keep everyone sane and remember that this is another normal experience in the life of a parent. Nothing lasts forever and this phase too will pass. You’re now becoming a pro as a parent, you made it through the newborn stage, teething stage, potty training stage, your child talks and can tell you what’s wrong now, so no big deal, a few weeks of meltdowns and you will find the answer. Being a parent is quite an accomplishment and should be used on a resume. Parents learn how to juggle more than enough duties at once. They are mechanics when something breaks, great cooks, team players, counselors, maids, drivers, shoppers, are great with math and even have a college education. If you have accomplished all of these things as a parent, there is nothing that can stop you from getting control of the meltdown situation. You can always share your results with other parents and learn from them too!