Is it all smiles and happy faces when you pick up your child from school, running around with their friends and waving goodbye to their teacher, only to collapse in a fit of temper tantrums, frowns and tears the minute you get to the car or home?
You aren’t alone in this believe me, children spend so much time listening to their teachers and concentrating at school, following rules and ‘behaving’ that as soon as it is over they just want to let loose and unwind and it’s the parents and the house hold that suffer. They are often tired, hungry and just want to get home and relax but you suggest a trip to the park with their friends or a quick whizz around the supermarket and a treat on the way home and they simply can’t cope with the decision or the feeling of being overwhelmed and instead of saying I’m really tired or please can we just go home they throw a tantrum or are rude, moody and sullen.
Try and imagine how you feel on a Friday night when you’ve finished for the week and you poor that glass of wine and put your feet up and suddenly your little one appears with 101 questions or excuses not to go to sleep. Most of us would admit that on occasion we just want to lose our rag and not be that calm, loving parent that we usually are!
So, it’s understandable that when you’re asking your child how their day has been and what they’ve been doing that you’re met with resistance and vague answers and most of us keep pushing for an answer because this is ‘good parenting’, and we worry that maybe they are moody because there is a problem at school and you need to get to the bottom of it.
Try these top tips for making school pick up and after school time easier for you and your child.
Snacks! – bring something they can eat and drink straight away, not some high sugar treat but a healthy snack like fruit and bottled water to rehydrate them.
Cuddles and Hugs – Great you child with lots of affection, the little ones will have missed you through the day even if they do not say so! And if they are worried or upset by anything a hug will help them feel better.
Ask more focused questions – Instead of asking, ‘how was your day?’ or ‘what did you do today?’ which is a lot to ask a very young child, try asking instead, ‘what was the best part of your day?’, ‘what was the worst part of your day?’ or ‘who did you play with today?’ – Giving your child more focused questions, will make it easier for your child to give a more precise answer without being overwhelmed whilst trying to list everything they have done that day.
You will often find that by doing this your child will remember sporadic things and launch into conversations about what they have learned throughout the rest of the day. A family friend of ours waits until they are eating tea and asks each child for one positive and one negative thing about the day, sometimes they can’t think of an answer but hearing and talking with their siblings helps them to remember things and also, particularly if there are older siblings they get to offer advice or discuss topics when they have had similar issues or experiences. It also helps teach empathy and understanding and makes them realise that on occasion everyone has problems or upsets at school.
If meltdowns are happening often or your child seems unusually anxious and frustrated about school, try talking to your child’s teacher or talk to your child about school at a time when you are both relaxed and more open to conversation.
Remember that your child is using a whole lot of energy to stay attentive and learn at school. Keeping things together takes a lot of effort. If your child is coming home and losing it on you, you have not failed. On the contrary, your child is trusting you to be there for them and pick them up with love and understanding.