When kids get home from school they seem to dump everything right inside the door and try to head for the television.
As a parent, you are thinking, “Really?! Was it a tough day at the office?”
We tend to forget how taxing going to school can be and don’t always understand why our kids can’t keep their cool when we want to know how their day went.
Children are at school or daycare for so long, especially if you have after-school care because you work.
You just want to know what they have been up to, and how things are going with their education when they bite your head off for asking.
It’s easy to think that this type of reaction is bad behavior; negative influence from friends with attitudes at school.
Come to find out, psychologists have found after-school meltdowns to be a phenomenon among most children.
Does your child cry over spilled milk (literally) when they get home from school or yell at you for asking whether they wanted toast or crackers with their afternoon snack?
They may be suffering from After-School Restraint Collapse.
This term was coined by Canadian psychologist and parenting educator Andrea Nair. She reports, according to Scary Mommy, that After-School Restraint is common and manageable.
In a nutshell, it is a result of children having to sit all day on their best behavior with no positive human contact, and then coming home to their safe space and letting out all the pent-up emotions they bottled throughout the day.
While at school, children are expected to have good peer interactions, listen to their teachers, follow direction, navigate their position in each class and worst of all sit without moving for hours.
It is hard for kids who have boundless energy to stay virtually motionless over the course of the day.
Not to mention, any opposition to a peer or assignment they have cannot be thoroughly contended because it is a faux pas to argue in school.
Adults can barely keep it together after a trying day at work or with the kids. And we are adults, with lots of experience processing our emotions!
Scary Mommy reports on what Nair has to say about all a child goes through:
“You conduct, orchestrate, produce, think, smile, keep things in your inside brain that you wish you could say out loud, then walk in your front door only to turn into a snarly, crabby person,” says Nair. “It takes a great deal of energy, mental motivation, emotional containment, and physical restraint to keep ourselves at our best while at work, daycare, or school for other people.”
Nair describes the release of all that was restrained as “a big bubble that needs to burst.”
It’s not fun when your child has a freak out session on a daily basis. And you miss your baby, you just want to bond and make up for all the lost time in the day.
Which is exactly why you need to know what the experts have to say about how you can, not only help tame the situation when you’re in the midst of it, but also use preventative measures.
Nair gives seven helpful tips for dealing with After-School Restraint, according to Scary Mommy:
- Reconnect positively;
- Create space;
- Feed them;
- Reduce household clutter and noise;
- Stay connected throughout the day;
- Provide decompression time; and
- Have fun.
When your child gets out of school focus on quiet cuddling, or simple comments about your day. Save the deeper conversations for after they had a chance to wind-down.
If your child wants to sit in their room alone for a while after school, let them. They have been forced into social situations all day and may need some time solo.
Always have snacks ready for after school. Holding back emotions all day is exhausting, and they need to refuel. Plus, food fixes a lot of problems for kids.
Being in a classroom that is stuffed to the brim with students, and the walls are covered with stimulating educational material is a lot for your brain to constantly process.
Coming home, kids should have a clear and clutter-free space to let their mind re-group.
Try to get up a little earlier in the morning to have some quality time together. It’s an awfully long time for a kid to go without positive motherly contact if they have to wait from bedtime to dinner time the following day.
Have a set time after school that you plan a decompressing activity together. This can be as simple as reading books together, cuddling and tickling, or having a card game you like to play.
Do what you can to make your child feel that home is a loving and safe space that they can wind-down in.
Try not to take it personally if your child seems tempestuous when they come home after school.
Remember that After-School Restraint and having a temper tantrum are two different things.
A temper tantrum is a defiant behavior, while After-School Restraint is simply releasing unresolved emotions; albeit not in the most desirable way.
Use the tips above, and help your child navigate the trying time between after school and dinner with love and support.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have dealt with After-School Restraint, or if this concept is new and eye-opening.
(h/t Mommy Underground)