After school frustration and big emotions with expert tips
Published 26/09/23 by Amy Blanchard
That after school period can be challenging in many homes, sometimes your kid just comes home feeling a bit frustrated and emotional. You might have heard people refer to this as the ‘after school restraint collapse.’
It can be confusing for us parents as we may have just received a glowing report from their teacher. Well, after kids have played by the ‘rules’ all day, sometimes they need to just let loose. And what do we mean by playing by the rules? The rules of school, society and community, which are all new to our children, like turning up to class on time, putting your hand up if you'd like to speak or concentrating. Needing to blow off a little steam is a totally normal response to a long day at school. They're just tired little people with a lot of big emotions they're still learning how to handle. And you can take comfort in the fact that they feel safe enough to decompress with you.
As parents, our role is to support the decompression they need. Sometimes they’ll seek it in an ‘appropriate way’ like asking for some quiet time and sometimes their emotions will just get the better of them.
In my experience, kids often fall into two categories after school - the child that doesn’t want to talk and needs some quiet time and the child who is full of frustration and needs physical release. The good news is there’s so much you can do to help your little one ride this end-of-day rollercoaster. And the Toniebox is a really great tool to help you do that. Here’s some of my top tips for navigating this period together.
Tips for the school pickup:
Have snacks and drinks ready
Greet them with a warm welcome and a big hug, kids love to know that you enjoy them and are happy to see them.
Try and hold back from asking too many questions right away. It’s ok to ask a few, but don’t bombard them.
Ask them if they want the radio on or off. Even the biggest music fan may say no after an overstimulating day in a noisy classroom.
Have their Toniebox and headphones ready and waiting when they hop in the car. This is a great way for them to decompress, relax and escape. The headphones give them the head space until they can get physical space at home.
Activities for children that need a quiet break:
Listen to calming sounds: Try the Calm Creative-Tonie, it’s full of easy breathing exercises and mindfulness activities.
Create a reading nook: Find a cosy spot in your home and add a relaxing chair, beanbag, some books and their Toniebox. Somewhere they can go and relax for a quiet moment.
Therapeutic touch: Colouring, sand, playdoh and waterplay are therapeutic activities that allow kids to squeeze, roll and press, which can be a physical release.
Try some yoga together: Move, stretch and practise a bit of mindfulness with Grow-Ga on the mytonies app which takes kids through a relaxing yoga session.
Activities and tips for children that need physical output:
Be silly: Encourage them to be silly now they are in the comfort of their own home. Try stomping like dinosaurs or maybe sing really fast or really slow.
Do some exercise: Before jumping into homework, try some of the exercises from the Healthy Habits Tonie to get them moving their bodies and releasing some of the tension from the day.
Try gross motor activities: Trampolining, football and cycling can all physically regulate children.
Make a fort: This can be done in any room with whatever you have in the house. Whilst they’re building, they will be climbing, balancing, lifting and crawling which is great for physical release. It’s then a place for them to relax and listen to their favourite Tonie.
Have a dance party: Volume up, furniture back and have a boogie. Make silly billys of yourselves, you’ll all feel better afterwards.
Remember, one of the best, and the hardest parts of parenting is that it’s always changing. You’ll find your groove and your kids will build up their school-day resilience. Use my tips and activities to do it together.