7 Ideas to Prevent After School Meltdowns

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Wondering how to stop  afternoon meltdowns, tantrums and squabbles?

Although school can be a very rewarding experience for preschoolers and school children alike, this time away from mom and/or dad can sometimes lead to a bit of disconnection. The disconnect  can bring on some  frazzled afternoons, tough bed times, siblings squabbles, meltdowns and tantrums.

What to do? Get connected!  Making the effort to restore connection can not only prevent all that “misbehavior” but create more harmony in the home too.

Here are 7 ways we stay connected & reconnect after a long day at school: 

Hugs: Little ones love hugs. My three year old loves to get a giant goodbye hug that includes lots of kisses before we leave. We make sure to always have time for it, everyday, no matter what. Maybe your child is a bit older and thinks it’s not so cool to be hugged at school in front of classmates, how about hugging your child before heading out the door? Then, repeat those hugs after school too.

Bridge Items: Sometimes separating can be hard and having a little reminder of mom/dad or home can help a lot. My five year old took a small piece of paper that said “mom loves you” in his pocket on his first day of school. Later he told me “One time I felt scared of doing something new, I checked my pocket and then I felt much better trying.” A friend told me her daughter kept a small ball in her backpack that was special her first year in school. Just knowing there is that little thing that connects the child back to home can go a long way. Another way to do this is to include a note from mom & dad in the lunch box!

Disconnect to Connect: Ideally, I try to forget emails, cell phones and errands for the first fifteen to twenty minutes when everyone returns home. This is a great time to listen to what your child has to say so don’t miss it :) Children love to know they have full attention and the time they are excited to talk about school or plans for the rest of the day will not last forever.

Eat Together: Whether your child does a half day or a full day program, planning to have something to eat together even if just a small snack after time away is a great way to slow down and reconnect. Some days, I like asking the boys what they wish for as a snack that day and then have it ready for them after school. I think it’s a nice way for them to know I was thinking about them while they were in school. What matters here is the time together so don’t worry about producing complicated snacks, just enjoy the time together!

Read: We love to hop on the sofa, get out some favorite stories and read together, just for fun. Don’t worry about reading skills, really just enjoy a story together and of course if your child wants to read to you, sit back and listen.

Relax: Everyone needs a little bit of down time, taking a moment to slow down and just be together, even if it’s just five minutes can make a huge difference.  We love to play massage train or do some yoga games together.

Play: At home or at the playground, taking a bike ride or building some Lego, finding time to play together is a great way to reconnect and help your child feel loved. Yesterday, we folded some paper boats and then headed to the playground to float them in the fountain. This was great fun for all of us. Check out this list with 60 special time activities for some ideas!

Does your child tend to melt down after school?  What seems to help?

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*Parts of this post were originally published at Authentic Parenting*

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a B.S. in Communication, is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator, and has completed several graduate courses in child development, psychology and family counseling. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

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