Musings on Calming the Savage Kindergartener

100_2502Another of my “I left a long-winded comment on someone’s blog post so I may as well turn it into a blog post.” Yep, it’s a copout, but at least I get a post out of it.

Does your kindergartener comes home from school in a foul mood? Is your child so highly strung after coming home from school that anything you say can set them off? If you’re like me, you’ve had a child or two go through this rite of passage. It does get better. Most stages or phases of children’s behavior do improve — it just takes time.

My mother told me that I would run around our house twice when I got home from kindergarten. Now was this my idea or was I a tempestuous storm in a teacup. My mother isn’t telling!

You know the tantrums I mean. You ask your 5-year-old to do something relatively benign and within seconds your child is frothing at the mouth, screaming, having a temper tantrum, or arguing with you over every little thing.

How to Guard Against the “Monster after School” Phase:

1. Establish an afterschool routine that you do not deviate from.

– First have child place backpack by the door or wherever it stays.

– Second give a snack and a drink.

– Third have child do homework…read to brother…play with baby…play by herself. The steps can vary, but have a plan.

2. Tell her that you don’t have time for tantrums. If she needs to take a break, have her go to her room to have her meltdown. She is probably feeding off the attention and sympathy that you are giving to her. I know my oldest would stomp and growl and really I think I responded to her so much that she liked being the center of attention. Once I sent her to her room to cool off, the tantrums stopped.

3. Tell your child that you know she is feeling tired or cranky or miserable. Let her know that attending school for a full day is a huge transition.

4. Let your child know that you and the siblings at home have to do errands, go to the library, or meet up with a friend. My oldest would melt down if she heard I took her sister to Walmart or anywhere out of the house. She loved school, but was jealous of what was going on at home. I explained to her that I would take her to McDonald’s or Walmart on the weekends. She looked forward to going and appreciated spending some one-on-one time together. Once she started 3rd grade and her sister started 1st grade which was a full day (K used to be half day), my oldest was so much happier to be in school.

My kids are 6, 11, and 13 — afternoon meltdowns still happen — I am sorry to say!

With my older girls, if they come home in a bad mood or wake up in a bad mood on a nonschool day, I send them back to their rooms. I tell them that they can come out when they are calm. Works like a charm. Kids just need a little space to unwind or vent.

Last year my youngest had a period of a few months where he was so grumpy and grouchy after school that I started letting him watch 1 30-minute show when he got home from school. It’s amazing how cheerful he was when his show was over. He would do homework, play, or help with chores, if he got to watch TV.

What’s your secret to the “just got home from school blues”? Let me know in the comments.

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