Most parents will have experienced that moment when you get the kids home from school and you think it’s time to settle down for the after school activities when suddenly it’s a full-blown Chernobyl style meltdown from one of the kids, no warning, no way to know why, it just happens. There are memes, vines, and tik toks aplenty about just this event happening. So what are you supposed to do when your child gives you no warning they are about to become an angry or teary mess on the floor? Well, much like we do with reactors today, your best bet is to be prepared and try to head it off before it happens.
That’s where Haley Sztykiel, L.M.S.W., S.S.W., a child therapist who spends her time directly with children and parents, comes into play. She has to helpful tips to prevent those tantrums. They come in the form of 5 points to consider for your child’s after school time. And it is impressed that the biggest part of this is; routine, make so everyone knows these apply daily.
Create a “Calming Corner”
When you get home from work, or a busy grocery shop, you need a chance to decompress; kids are no different. That’s why there is a suggestion made to create what one writer called a “calming corner.” A place where the kids can go to wind down. Comfortable and in the style that they will enjoy relaxing in; whether that is beanbag chairs and videos, sleeping bags and books, or a box and blocks. If your children can write, throw in a journal so that they can write about whatever is on their minds.
Offer a Snack
Sztykiel notes a simple snack can go a long way in regards to shaping a child’s mood. When you’ve gone through an 8 hour day, even with a lunch break, chances are you’re going to be hungry when you get home. And “hangry” is a phrase that holds up under inspection. Hungry people can be angry for little or no reason. So sometimes a bite is all they need. How you decide to manage those snacks is up to you, create a snack bin in your fridge, or make them healthy snacks yourself. But Sztykiel also reminds us about the importance of drinking water, and how often it’s overlooked.
Take Homework Cues From Your Kids
Not everyone works the same way, and the way your child works is not, necessarily, the way you do or want them to. It is important that their homework gets done, but does it need to be done as soon as they get home? Or can it wait until after dinner? Find out if your children like to get their homework out of the way or if they need a bit of time to unwind first. Trying to change what is natural for them is going to cause unneeded stress. Make sure the work gets done but work with the kids to set up the schedule. Designate a consistent homework time, and stick to it.
Release Some Steam Outside
Far too often the kids will come home and plop themselves down in front of a screen and not move. But sometimes they want to do something else, they have energy and no idea of what to do with it and their bouncing off the walls can become a big problem if we try to make them settle down. Maybe try sending them outside instead? “After-school outside play lets children release their energy after the structure of a school day,” Sztykiel says. “The outdoors allows children to decompress and properly transition back to home, while also providing them an outlet for that physical and emotional release.” This is one of those situations that might change from day to day – you may find even the most energetic child is too tired some days. But keeping to a schedule might mean that there is an allowed “outside time” that they can use, if they want to.
Be an Ear for Your Children
It is very easy to fall into the trap of being a “fixer.” When we see our children having an issue we want to solve the problem so that they can be happy and healthy young people. But kids don’t always want you to run in and fix their problems — sometimes they just want to be heard. This means putting your device and work away so your children will see that your attention belongs solely to them. This could serve as a window for your child to open up with you and share something about their day that they just might not have had the opportunity to otherwise. Being present for their problems can be a big part of preventing their emotional distress.
It will take time and some experimentation to figure out what after-school routine is right for your kids. It’s also important to keep in mind that schedules may have to adapt to the seasons and what time it gets dark outside, also what after-school activities they may have going on. Not to mention making room for their social lives as they develop and they get older. But once you get into a groove, Sztykiel says the results will improve the more you stick to it. Kids will feel better knowing what to expect, and the post-school meltdowns will be fewer and farther between.
Source: Good Housekeeping.