Has your child ever come home from school and they…
· are irritable?
· have a meltdown?
· refuse to follow directions?
· are overly energetic?
· are fatigued?
You are not alone. This is called after-school restraint collapse and it’s very real. Kids work really hard at school. When they get home, to a comfortable environment, they can have decreased energy to self-regulate their emotions and behaviors. Many children withhold their emotions in school and wait to express their feelings until they are in a comfortable environment with a parent or caregiver, leading to meltdowns or behavioral difficulties. Many families feel that the time between after school and bedtime is stressful, with a rush to complete homework right away and complete all of the after school activities. If we notice that our kids have behavioral difficulties when they get home from school, they may benefit from a revamped schedule at home. Allowing 15-20 minutes for a brain break (using the strategies below!) may increase your child’s participation in homework, aid in completion of evening routines, and improve their overall quality of life after school. These behaviors are common in children, but there are ways to help to make the transition more enjoyable for all!
- Water, water, and more water!
- Hydration is key. Your child may not have kept up with their water intake at school. It is important they drink water at home to aid in focus, attention, and memory.
- Provide a brain snack
- Greek yogurt
- Fruits and vegetables
- Blueberries. They are filled with antioxidants which aid in learning capacity and motor skills
- Seeds and nuts
- Almond butter
- Brown rice
- Dark chocolate. This, too, has antioxidants and is a great sell to kids as a reward. With added benefits of increased focus and concentration
- Physical activities
- Playing outside or at a playground
- Animal walks (crab, bear, duck, frog, elephant, wheelbarrow walks)
- Jumping jacks
- Push ups
- Jump roping
- Participating in these activities together with your child, or getting siblings involved, can be a fun and motivating family activity that helps to give your child time to regulate their mind and body
For any extra advice, tips, or explanations of these exercises listed, I encourage you to talk to your occupational therapist for individualized care. Remember, your child is beautifully unique in their own way and not every exercise may work for them. Seek a professional, ask for help, and know that it can get easier!
Brittany Balzano, OTR