How To Handle Meltdowns After School
Hey, Heidi Rogers here with today's three minute parenting playbook. I wanted to touch base with you on the whole "After school meltdown." What do I do with after school stuff? Why are they such a grump when they get out of school?
Because, two things, one: when you drop them off in the morning, and this is any age, they had to disconnect from you to get through the day. They had to kind of cut the cord and that can be really hard for some kids, and it can be fine for others. But for those that it's really hard to sort of separate from you, and you may not really know it, they might hide it and suppress their feelings a bit how hard it is, maybe for them in the morning to separate from you. When they kind of cut that cord, they separate from you so that then at the end of the day, when you go to pick them up, and you're like, 'Hey, I'm so glad to see you,' and they're like a bit cold or a bit rude or disrespectful. It often makes total sense to them, because they're like, 'I broke up with you this morning. We are broken up, we are on a break, right? We are on a break. We are not together right now. Okay? So don't just do this whole 'we're together' thing because we're not.' So it takes them a little bit of time to kind of warm up and go, 'Oh, yeah, I can let you back in.'
The other thing that they've been working really hard all day on is suppressing their feelings. They've not really been in a super safe space where they can show everyone how they feel, cry when they want, get angry when they want, they have to keep it all dialed down. So when you arrive, you are the safe space, sorry. So you kind of have to cop it. Don't cop it in the sense that there's no boundaries and limits. There needs to be some boundary and limit to like, 'You can't throw things at me. You can't punch me.' But we want them to feel safe to express how they really feel.
I always say the analogy that helps me get this and access compassion is how do I feel after a long haul flight? You know, I'm from LA originally, when we fly to Australia, and it's a 16 hour flight. I am not my best self when I land at either side. What do I like for the people that are picking me up? To have a lot of grace, to have a lot of compassion, have a lot of patience with me, know that I might not be feeling super chatty, I'm usually just tired and hungry. And I just need a minute. And that's our kids are at the end of the day. I'm tired, I'm hungry. I just need a minute.
So if you can have food waiting in the car, that often helps and just give them some time to warm up to reconnect with you. Do something fun with them, spend some nice time doing something that they like to do. But if they don't want to do anything, that's totally fine. Just give them some space, they might just need some time to kind of go 'Oh, yeah, I can show my emotions.' Or, 'Hey, here are all the emotions I've been stockpiling all day.' Bleh.
You want to be the safe space and have wide, wide, wide open space for them. Interrogating them - not helpful. I know that we all are dying to know what's happened throughout the day.
If you really want to find out more though of what's happened in the day: The Connection Hour of Power is my favorite hack for that. So what does that mean? Right before bed, usually, for most kids, that hour right before is when their little heart opens and their brain opens up. And that's when they want to talk about what happened in the day that was tricky, good, bad, whatever.
Adolescence it gets later and later as they get older. So you might be looking at 10 or 11 at night if you want to be around for when your adolescent wants to open up. If you can make yourself available, sit on the edge of their bed, be pottering around. This is when the adolescents will likely want to do it but with littles, it's usually closer to bedtime, or in bed, that they have all these things that they want to explore and to process. If you really want to get in, that's a better time to do it than at 3:30 right when you pick them up.
Hope this was helpful. If you want a resource that actually goes with this, you can download it by clicking the link below.