After enduring a long school day navigating an array of novel academic tasks, complex social situations and prolonged seat time, kids experience a build-up of frustration and tension.
It is no wonder children are prone to melting down when they see their parent's familiar face. Holding it together as skillfully as they can in public, they are eager to release their pent up emotions in the safety of your presence. However, these reunion moments can be fraught with conflict. Rather than thanking us for showing up to provide some much needed relief, children tend to pick a fight or meltdown in a puddle of tears.
Here are some tools to tame the tantrums and facilitate a more constructive reconnection and release:
Be Present And Ready
Take a moment to ground yourself prior to reconnecting with your child. Put technology and other tasks aside so you can be as present as possible at pick-up.
Cooling and Soothing Snacks
Exhaustion and frustration are warming energies. Have cold water, ice cubes, and/or frozen fruit to cool things down. Nutritious crunchy or chewy snacks such as carrots, nuts, jerky, and fruit leather can also soothe and fortify.
Making Guesses To Soothe Emotions
Read your children's non verbal and verbal communication and make a few educated guesses at what they might be experiencing. If they seem exhausted, impatient and irritable, you might say something like: "I am guessing it was a long day!"
"I can imagine you are ready for a break!"
"It looks like today was challenging!"
Discharge And Recharge Activities
Brainstorm in advance with your children to come up with an after school plan that supports them in blowing off steam, sharing about their day or recharging their battery. Here are some simple activities to choose from depending on their specific needs. Most can be enjoyed within 10-15 minutes.
-blowing up a balloon and playing balloon tennis
-drawing while listening to music
-playing with play dough or kinetic sand
-some type of ball play
-reading or being read to or listening to a podcast
-hide and seek
-downloading or venting about their day
Needs will change day to day and week to week. Collaborate with your children to learn more about what they need when their school day is over. And, let your needs be part of the conversation as well. Then, make a plan and track the results. As a team you will develop new rituals and routines that support and soothe, and evolve over time.