Although the teacher only has glowing remarks about your child's behavior, your kid turns into a tantrum throwing, wall-climbing force of nature after school every day. This swing in temperament might leave you pretty confused. So what is after-school restraint collapse, and how can you deal with it? This change in behavior after school is super common, and there are ways to help your kid express it in a healthy way.
During the school day, your child has to maintain self-control and follow school rules for several hours at a time. It can be tough, and naturally kids want to blow off steam afterward. But children don't always know how to decompress in a productive, positive way, and that's when the after-school restraint collapse happens. "Kids do what they need to in order to ‘be good’ or keep the peace," said Andrea Loewen Nair, counsellor and parenting educator, in Today's Parent. "After they’ve done that all day, they get to the point where they just don’t have the energy to keep this restraint, and it feels like a big bubble that needs to burst." It's understandable, really. Anyone who's come home from a rough day and collapsed on the couch in a huff has experienced a similar feeling.
Kids, however, are still learning to cope with these feelings of exhaustion and stress, and each kid can display after-school restraint collapse differently. "Children experience this in various ways. Some children have a complete meltdown that involves temper tantrums [or] refusal of parent directions while others just withdraw or are quiet for awhile after school," said Stacy Haynes, CEO and counseling psychologist at Little Hands Family Services, in Motherly. And although this crankiness is understandable, it's tricky territory for parents. After all, you still have many hours of post-school time with your kid each day, and no one wants that time to be filled with pouting and meltdowns.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to help your kid cope with after school restraint collapse. At first it might involve some trial and error to find what works best with your kid's personality. Some kids really need an hour or so of alone time in their room right after school, as noted in The Chaos And The Clutter. It's time to relax and unwind. Other kids do well with some physical activity right after school, as noted in The Hearty Soul. This makes sense, because physical activity can relieve stress and even help kids cope with emotional challenges, as noted in Kids Health. Whether your kid participates in a sport or just runs around the back yard for a bit, some activity will probably help ease those meltdown symptoms. Lastly, don't forget those basic needs. Instead of asking whether your kid is hungry, have a bunch of healthy snacks at the ready right after school, as noted in Yummy Mummy Club. It's safe to assume your kid could use a few nibbles of fruit and veggies after all that learning. Eventually, you and your kid will find a way to wind-down after school that does not involve meltdowns. Until then, stock up on snacks.