How to Cope With After-School Meltdowns

Are your kids bright and happy in the morning, but fussy or grumpy when you get home? Your family may have a case of the after-school meltdowns.

By Katie Hurley, LCSW, from PBS Parents

“Going to school can be completely exhausting for many kids. The school day can be physically, emotionally and mentally draining. Young children expend a lot of energy sitting still and focusing in class. They have rules to follow, work to complete and responsibilities to fulfill. Many of them lack sufficient time to play, run and regroup throughout the day. By the time they get home from school, they are quick to fall apart.

The bad news is that kids tend to save their most difficult behavior for their parents. The silver lining is that they trust us to help them through those trying moments and to love them anyway. The good news in all of this is that we make simple changes to help kids cope with the overwhelming emotions that often settle in once the day is done. Here’s how:

Leave the questions for later. It’s no big secret that busy is the new normal, and sometimes this leads to immediate questions about what kids learned during the school day, how much homework needs to get done and what happened during recess. We engage in insta-catch-up during the ride from here to there because we want to connect with our kids, but most kids need time to decompress and zone out before discussing the daily play-by-play.

A simple greeting and a hug or high-five is a great way to connect and provide emotional space from the school day. “I’m so happy to see you!” is my favorite after school greeting with my own kids. They both meet me with big smiles when I start with a positive statement.”


For the full article on how to manage after-school meltdowns visit PBS Parents.