After-School Meltdown Survival Kit
September can feel like a wrecking ball! We quickly switch gears from 'summer-easy-breezy-anything-goes' mode to 'back-to-school-homework-sports-schedules-and-all-the-things' mode.
How are you feeling with shifting gears and having your kids back to school now? I know I’ve had a combination of all the feels!
I’m feeling sad that time is moving so quickly, and excited about my kids’ journey. I’m feeling lonely without my sidekicks around, and happy to have time alone and get more focused with work and projects.
All the feels are ok! Even for our kids!
I remember when my now Senior used to have the hardest time at the start of each school year. We did all the things to prepare her, but the fear of the unknown and fear of separation were just too overbearing for her.
There were tears and school professionals who’d intervene to get her into the building, and within a small amount of time, I’d receive the call from the principal that things were going smoothly. My daughter had acclimated and was being her sweet, pleasant, happy self for her teacher and classmates.
At 3 o’clock, I would be waiting at the door for my bubbly girl. She would come out with her big ol’ backpack and a bright smile. We’d hug and start walking home when…the tears would start to flow, the complaints of the day would start pouring out of her mouth, she'd become suuuuper argumentative, and there was nothing I could say or do to make things right.
Total dysregulation. (low frustration tolerance, meltdowns, bouncing off the walls, overly physical play, very emotional)
Has this ever happened to your child? They have a great day at school, and as soon as they see you, they completely fall apart?
You are in good company, my friend. ‘Restraint collapse’ happens to so many of our kids - there just aren’t enough parents talking about it!
When kids use a good amount of their resources and energy to ‘hold it together’ and tolerate all the expectations of school, they are bottling up a lot of pressure! So, when they finally get to their safe space, AKA - YOU! The bottle cap pops and releases all that pent up energy!
It’s totally normal, and there are some things you can do to support your child…and yourself…when this happens.
With awareness and practice, you will be able to teach your child how to manage all these big feelings and pressures throughout the day!
Here are 3 tips to help you & your kiddo work through
after-school restraint collapse.
1. What is your mindset around Restraint Collapse?
This is dysregulation…not a tantrum. The body is in a state of overwhelm. Your child is not trying to give you a hard time, your child is having a hard time. In your mind, try to separate your child from the problem so you can work as a team towards solutions.
This is just a moment in time that will not last forever. And, by supporting your child through these tough moments, you will be strengthening your connection and building trust.
2. How can you hold space for your child’s feelings?
We all need a safe space to vent when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Allow your child to vent away while you respond with empathetic phrases and hear and affirm their feelings. That might sound like, “Ugh, that sounds tricky.” or, “It’s ok to be upset, we’ll work this out.”
3. What are some ways you can support your child to help them get regulated again?
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that your child's dysregulation may feel hard for you to manage and navigate. This is totally normal! Many parents can feel triggered and set off by their child’s big emotions.
Keep in mind, your child is going to need your calm to help them regulate their emotions and feel better…which is why it’s so important for you to have enough calm to share!
Engage in some small moments of self care prior to picking up your children from school each day. This could be as simple as listening to music while driving home or taking a quick walk around the block before getting back in the car with kids in tow.
Take a deep breath, remember this is just a moment, and you’ve got this! Here’s to a successful school year full of growth and connection!
Rebecca Murphy, Certified PCI® Parent Coach.