We’ve all experienced it - our child comes home after a day at school and has an absolute meltdown for seemingly no reason. After speaking with the school, they have been doing well - no issues with their peers or adults, yet when they come home they seem devastated. It could be that your child is struggling with mental fatigue.
We all have times in our lives when it all seems like “too much”. Between dealing with the stress of getting everyone out the door in the morning, meeting deadlines at work, picking up groceries, making dinner, getting the kids to their sports, all the while projecting a cool, calm and collected attitude; we get stressed and overwhelmed. A good cry is sometimes all we can do to make ourselves feel better. This is exactly what can happen to kids after going back to school- especially in the first few months.
How can we help?
1-Offer them your support/ comfort
Similar to when children are upset for any other reason, let them know that you’re there for them. Tell them that you’re ready to listen when they’re ready to talk. Depending on the child, this may or may not help them feel more at ease.
We’ve all been hangry before- it’s not fun. Be prepared to welcome them home with a nutritious snack. If they are old enough to be home alone before you get home from work, have one prepared for them to grab easily when they get in the door. Try to stick to fruits and vegetables or other unprocessed foods.
3-Give them space
For some children, hovering over them or trying to make them talk about things will only make it worse. Give the child some distance to relax and unwind after school. For some children, this means 30 minutes of quiet time in their room or outside, others it’s just sitting quietly in the kitchen as you prepare dinner. If the child frequently has a tough time with the school-to-home transition, consider creating a spot in the house for them that is specifically for them to go during calm down time.
4-Don’t blame anyone
Like other mental health issues, this is no one’s fault. Everyone processes stress differently- and no one should be punished for it. Getting angry at your child (or yourself) isn’t going to solve anything, in fact, it will more than likely stress the child out further.
If behavior like this continues for more than a couple of weeks, I would suggest bringing the child to see a therapist to rule out other potential mental health issues. The Kids Help Phone is also a great resource for youth who are struggling; you can find out more information here https://kidshelpphone.ca/
Dr. Diana Garcia
Dr. Diana Garcia has over 20 years of experience in the field of psychology. She has provided psychological and counseling services in Ontario, and the states of Pennsylvania, and Florida