This is a very common issue seen amongst school aged children.
Kids are expected to follow rules and procedures, meet standards and self-monitor their feelings during an average 6 hour school day.
As Dr. Heather Wittenberg explains, children will leave both their best and worst selves for their parents. She discusses how it takes a considerable amount of energy for young children to “be good and follow the rules”. This results in them letting it all out once they’re home and can be their “true selves”.
Particularly at the beginning of school life, adjusting to social norms and routines at school can be tough on a young child whose brain is still developing and is learning to self-regulate appropriately.
There are many ways in which we, as parents and carers, can help our children feel less overwhelmed and reduce the likelihood or level of after school meltdowns.
Personally, some of my personal favourite strategies include water and nature based play and, when possible, we will try to have an early picnic-style dinner (say 4pm).
Other popular strategies from ‘learning links’ which I implement and recommend include:
- Having an early shower or bath
- Avoiding asking questions on the way home from school, instead saving them for later
- Reconsidering after school and weekend activities
- Considering whether they need to rest or move
- Providing opportunities for unstructured play (particularly water or nature based)
Through implementing many of these strategies children will have the chance to rest and relax their brains and wind down. This is likely to see a reduction in the amount and length of after school meltdowns.
I would love to hear your feedback of ways you implement some of these strategies into your daily routine, on how they worked for you and what worked best.