Pediatric Physical, Speech, and Occupational Therapists Inspiring Play

The Afterschool Meltdown: Strategies for Your Preschooler

The Afterschool Meltdown: Strategies for Your Preschooler

Is your little one having some big feelings when they get home from school? After school meltdown is real! Little friends are navigating challenging new activities at school, learning school rules, sharing materials with peers, and experiencing new sights, sounds, and touch all day. When they get home to you, their safe place, they sometimes let it all out with big tears or tantrums.  Creating an afterschool plan can help your kiddo to feel more regulated and help everyone to have a better afternoon and evening. You can even create a picture book or visual schedule. This can be especially helpful for kiddos who are also feeling anxious about school and separation. Knowing the plan for after pick up can help them feel more secure about their day (grownup people sometimes like plans too!)

First things first: think, “basic needs.”

Your kiddo has likely ran and played, painted and sang songs at school, and just maybe was busy socializing or observing during snack and mealtime and did not eat or drink as they normally would.  Offer a snack and drink right away! Sometimes Coco even likes a snack in the car home from preschool. This helps fill up her energy tank.

Your new preschooler or kinder kiddo may have outgrown naps prior to school starting, but they may still be tired after school. Plan some down time when the kids get home with lights low and maybe soft music to calm their nervous systems. You can offer some activities with linear (back and forth) movements that are generally calming, reading a story in a rocking chair together, or lounging in a hammock swing or a rocker. Coco loves some snuggle time in her Wiwiurka rocker with her lovie.

If your kiddo is low energy after school, keep the play simple and unstructured. Have some favorites on hand, like Magna Tiles, picture books, or small figurines. They have likely had to share materials during the day and may be ready to play with their belongings alone. 

You probably have a ton of questions for your big school kid about how their day went, but asking too many questions right away can be a bit overwhelming. Let your kiddo get home and adjust before diving into the details of their school day.  

Wishing you all a happy and safe school year!

Love  – Amanda, Shawn, Kim & Rhea |WalkTalkPlay

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