7 Tips to Stop the After-school Whining

As much as I look forward to seeing my son home from school every afternoon, there's a part of me which braces herself for a meltdown. As soon as he is in, it's like I'm walking around broken glass. The slightest thing sets him off. At first, I thought it was something I was doing wrong. Maybe I was too earnest with my questions, or not dealing with his mood appropriately.

Nothing I tried was helping. My normally vocal son would also not share if anything was bothering him about that particular day. Any parent knows how frustrating it is to have a child who refuses to speak up.

Then I did what I usually do when I'm clueless. I put myself in his shoes and thought about his school day. All he did in school was listen. To his teacher, to the bus assistant, and the PE instructor. They told him what to do, and more frequently, what NOT to do. So, when he got back home, he just wanted to let go. He didn't mind being rude or loud because he had been suppressing his desires all that while. And it came out aggressively.

After initially suffering through the after-school whining or burnout, or whatever you want to call it, I took a few steps that helped temper it down.

Seven things you can do to deal with after-school meltdowns or whining.

Here are some of my tips for when you're dealing with the same thing. Bear in mind that my son is around six years of age so these may work mainly with young children, but I'm sure older kids would respond to them as well.

1. Give them time to unwind

It's all about giving your child space. No matter how eager you are to welcome them, follow their cues to see whether they want to run into your arms or just be quiet for a while. Because, there will be both kinds of days. Think about when you come home from a long day at work, or from running errands. All you want to do is unwind and not speak, even if things didn't go as planned. In the same way, give children time to process their feelings.

2. Don't ask too many questions

It seems obvious, but sometimes we just can't hold back our questions. It may not look that way to ourselves, but loading our kids with too many questions can sometimes clam them up further. It always works better when you casually bring in your pressing questions instead of interrogating your child right away! Also, the phrasing is important. Focus on the positive. Start by talking about the good things that happened.

3. Keep healthy snacks ready

Often, your child is just 'hangry'. If they've already had lunch at school, some fruits and nuts should deal with the hunger, and give them an energy boost at the same time. Otherwise, have a light lunch ready because eating too much at once can make kids moody and lethargic too.

4. Stick to a routine

Despite the tantrums or mood swings, it's best to stick to your daily routine. Some days you will face more whining, but you need to gently steer them back into schedule. There are days when my son refuses to do homework or take his evening bath, but at most, I only push back the routine by about 10 minutes. Because, I know, how important routine is for everyone at home - especially on a school night.

5. Focus on clear communication

Whenever I hear whining or grumbling, I remind my son to express his feelings in words. It's important for children to feel acknowledged for their emotions. The emotions may not always be appropriate but they can't be ignored either. Children must be allowed to voice their thoughts and feelings in the best way they can. They need to learn that in order to be heard, they must speak clearly.

6. Set up a calming activity

This is something I've followed for a long time. Simple activities such as painting, sensory play, or imaginative play can help children transition to a more relaxed state of mind. Choose activities that don't require much thinking but will engage them (here are some calming activities). It's not always possible to do a proper set up, so just pull out some old toy, or bring out some clothes for dress up.

7. Count the sleep hours

It's no surprise that children needs lots of sleep to function well. Their minds are constantly active, that's why they need the rest to recover and assimilate all that they learned. Kids can get extra fussy when they haven't slept enough. Make sure they're getting the right hours of sleep for their age (most need between 10 to 12 hours of sleep).

Hopefully, these pointers will help you deal with the after-school stress that worries both yourself and your kids.

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Mummy On My Mind said...

Great pointers! Will definitely bookmark this for when my little one joins school next year!

Paula Medronho said...

This is so true! They spend an entire day on best behaviour that it must be so draining for them and we face the aftermath! These are great pointers Tarana!

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