No matter what age your child is, school days can leave them with a lot of emotions. If your child veers into tantrum mode when they return home, you won’t want to miss these simple suggestions for how to handle meltdowns after school:
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You know the scenario – your child comes home from school in that really rotten mood and before you know it they are having a strop. It can be tempting to react with sternness but at this point it’s important to take a deep breath and realise that they are simply reacting to something that happened at school.
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How to Handle Meltdowns After School
Often lunch or breaks at school can be rushed for your child. They may nibble something from their lunchbox quickly in their hurry to get playing with their friends. So feeding your child something when they arrive home from school is a good way to lessen any bad mood. Try to avoid anything too sweet however, as this will just lead to sugary highs and lows that won’t help your child’s mood.
I always have a pot of homemade soup ready to serve when they walk in the door (and I am by no means Super Mum – I just make a big batch, freeze it in portion sizes, and then defrost and heat as needed). I usually find by the time the tummy is full, the mood is better.
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If you have a pet like a dog or cat (or hamster) then having a pet cuddle can help calm the emotions and make your child feel better. Nothing better than burying your nose in some fur to make a bad mood feel better.
Suggest a Game
Often when my children were at their grumpiest, the suggestion of a fun game would distract and by the time we played the game they were back to feeling happy. (Of course helped by me letting them win…!)
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Make sensory bottles or a calm down jars to have on hand for this exact moment. Alternatively, spending a few minutes watching a lava lamp, blowing bubbles, or other gentle sensory play can be very calming.
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Writing a Letter
Get your child to sit and write a letter about their feelings. Journaling is a well-known technique for getting all those strong emotions out and on paper. If they want to read it to you afterwards, all well and good, or just crumple it up and let the feelings go – whatever works.
Go for a Walk
If my kids are super grumpy on return I sometimes suggest we head out for a walk on the beach or in the woods before returning to tackle homework. There’s nothing like some fresh air to clear the head, and it may lead to a conversation about what’s going through their head.
If you have a dog, then a quick dog walk round the neighbourhood can be effective.
Suggest that your child takes some quiet time with a book, if they immerse themselves in someone else’s story it can help them completely forget their “troubles” and avoid that meltdown.
Mum Caroline’s top tip for how to handle meltdowns is to suggest a small LEGO project when her child is losing it. She says they get immersed in creating their LEGO masterpiece and quickly forget about being grumpy.
Encourage your child to go out and play, whether that be in the garden or with their friends. Kids need downtime and play time, and running about can help exercise and exorcise those crappy feelings too.
Don’t Bombard Them
If they are in a really bad mood, then it can be tempting to ask a bunch of questions to find out what happened as soon as they come out of school. Leave it a while, and try some other distraction techniques instead. They may eventually tell you what was bugging them.
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Time to Relax
Give them time to relax and let them tell you about their day when they are ready. School days can be really busy and over-stimulating too. So getting some relax time can be really helpful in avoiding meltdowns.
Colouring or listening to music or a favourite audio book can help too.
Plan an after school routine together so they know what to expect each day. Sometimes it’s the changes that cause the meltdowns, so when they have a routine it can be easier for kids.
Sometimes my kids get stressed by homework and have a meltdown. Tell them to take some deep breaths, as breathing always helps to calm. Then ask them to show you what the problem is and talk through how they can start to tackle it.
If it’s causing too much stress then suggest they leave it til later or else ask their teacher tomorrow. Reassure them that it is ok to do that, sometimes kids can be worried about saying to their teacher that they need help.
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Have your say! What’s your best tip for how to handle meltdowns after school? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!