Creative Child

Dealing with After School Meltdowns

by Rebecca Eanes


2. Hold off on the interrogation. I know we all want to know what happened at school today. We want to hear that they had a good day, did well on the test, got along with friends, and are generally enjoying their childhoods, but a lot of times, kids don’t want to talk about school as soon as they step out of the doors. They want to unwind and push all that aside, just like we do after work! Instead of “how was school today?” start with “I’m happy to see you!” or “I missed you so much today!” They’re much more likely to spill the details when they’re feeling connected and relaxed anyway, so just make space for some chill time together to unwind and be in the company of loved ones.

 3. Send your love to school. It’s difficult for children to go 7 or 8 hours without their primary attachment figure. Help them feel a little closer to you during the school day by sending something special to school with them. For preschoolers and young children, you might send your necklace or small stuffed animal with your scent. Notes in the lunchbox or inside a binder will also let them know you’re thinking of them. For older kids who would just die if their friends saw a note from mommy in their lunchbox, you have to think outside the box. Throw a few Hersey kisses in there or find some ninja-like way to say “I love you!”

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 4. Make time for free play. Over scheduling adds stress, and stress adds to meltdowns. Try to make some space at least most evenings for your kid to just be a kid. There are benefits to extracurricular activities of course, so don’t feel bad for those baseball practices and piano lessons. Just make sure there’s some space in there to do absolutely nothing at all.

 5. When the meltdown happens, weather it together. It’s tempting to downplay our kids’ emotions. It can feel like they make a big deal out of everything, but remember that it really is a big deal to them. They just want to feel heard and understood like all humans do. Try phrases like “Sounds like you’ve had a tough day” and “yes, that must have been difficult for you” or “I can understand how you feel.” A little empathy will help them get back on track better than dismissing their feelings. Keep your heart soft and arms open and soon they’ll return to sweetness.


Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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