If it seems like every day your child comes home cranky and irritable after school, you’re not alone. In fact, many parents struggle to understand why their child behaves well during school hours but doesn’t continue this behavior in the evenings. According to experts, this emotional exertion is called “after-school restraint collapse”. After a long day at school or daycare, many kids can’t seem to hold it together when they get home.
After-school restraint collapse happens in children of all ages. It can be expressed in a multitude of ways such as meltdowns, disrespectful behavior, or even acts of solitude. Laid back children and teenagers’ behaviors may not be as drastic. Nevertheless, they can become anti-social or show signs of moodiness after school, especially when paired with a lack of sleep.
So why does it happen? Well, your child’s school day is filled with expectations, challenges, and disappointments. By the end of the day, he’s simply exhausted. Tantrums, outbursts, and hyperactivity are just some of the ways your child might be coping with these overwhelming emotions.
Many child psychologists agree that these overt acts of defiance and distress toward family members can be attributed to the fact that they are confident you will love them through it. So don’t let them down! Try to find a way to be patient and understanding through their outbursts and remind them that you’re there for them no matter what. Don’t take it personally! While it may seem like they’ve been waiting all day to unload on you, they’re actually navigating emotional maturity.
Aside from your enduring parental patience, psychologists recommend searching for ways to help your child decompress after her day. Establishing fun routines when she gets home every day can often give her a physical and emotional outlet. Try tickle fights, taking a walk, or having a dance party; leave screen time as a last resort. Baltimore and its surrounding areas have so much to do!
Another tip to avoid after-school restraint collapse? Keep the questions to a minimum. When our children get home from school, we often want to bombard them with questions about their day and the evening’s homework. Instead, greet them with a smile and a hug, give them a snack, and allow them to have a mental break. Let your kids know that home is their safe zone and help them learn how to communicate their frustrations.