The After School Attitude!

I ran across this article on Facebook and noticed the comments from parents before even reading it. They were mostly the same – “Thank you for posting!! This is so helpful!”  Well I decided to take a look, and yes, it’s definitely helpful. Many parents are experiencing the “After school Attitude” and it’s not fun.

So why now that school is back in session are kids coming home and acting out?  This article will explain and give you suggestions on ways to deal with the situation and help your children through it.

Yesterday a friend mentioned that her daughter has been coming home from preschool this week with a terrible attitude. I started explaining why and giving tips about how she could help when I realized that this advice would reach more people in a post! If your child recently started back to school and you are seeing a behavioral fall out at home, here is what is really going on.

As I typed out my experience as a former kindergarten teacher to my struggling friend someone else chimed in and said, “I don’t know who you are but you gave the best advice.” I tend to undermine my degrees in early childhood education and educational psychology plus my classroom experience since my own kids give me struggles every day. If my writing can help one parent it is worth writing.

Your child is coming home from school grouchy. She doesn’t want to tell you about her day. Her behavior is terrible, out of character, and you’re wondering where the sweetie you put on the bus this morning went and how to get her back! What is going on?

Your child is practicing becoming a student:
Your little learner needs plenty of sleep and is probably still getting used to getting up earlier (and going to bed earlier) and being rushed out of the house after spending lazy summer days at home doing (mostly) as she pleased. She’s gone from choosing her entertainment at home to listening to you before school then listening to the teacher at school so she’s adjusting to not being in charge in either place. At home she can ask for a snack when she’s hungry, use the bathroom without interrupting the whole class, and snuggle on the couch with her favorite stuffed animal (or you!) if she needs an emotional break. She may have some of those same comforts at school but not always at the moment she needs them most. 

Your child needs a break:
Working adults use their commute home to unwind from their day going from work more to home mode. Kids need a transition too. I recommend you don’t ask about you child’s day right away. I know this is difficult because you want to know what she did while she was away! You will get a much better response and attitude if you wait until after a break to ask the questions instead of bombarding her with them as she switches from school to home. Different kids need this break to look different ways so you may try a snack, some down time (television, quiet time, or stories), active play (a trip to the playground), or changing clothes. You are looking for the best way to physically signify to your child that school is over. Don’t be surprised if she starts telling you about her day as she unwinds!

Your child (hopefully) behaved all day at school and her self control is maxed out: 
Expectations are very different at school. In addition to new rules and a new adult enforcing them, your child is being asked to do things in a group setting that are very different from home. For example, she can’t just tell the teacher what she is excited about (like she does at home with you). Now she has to remember to raise her hand, wait her turn, and maybe she’ll get the chance to share before the teacher moves the class on to the next task. Keeping a lid on all of those (typical and normal) childhood behaviors to meet behavioral expectations at school is hard work. At the end of the day your child has held it all in and kept it together for so long that she explodes where she feels safest and loved most: at home. I’m so sorry that you are dealing with difficult Mr. Hyde while the teacher gets sweet Dr. Jekyll, but ask yourself if you’d really want it the other way around!

What you can do to help:
In addition to providing lots of sleep, healthy food, and a break, you will want to lavish your child with praise, extra patience, and love during this tricky time. “I am so proud of how you behaved at school today. Can you think about the way you are acting now at home so we continue to have a great day together?”

This adjustment period should last two weeks to a month. If your child’s behavior doesn’t adjust back to normal or you notice a behavioral change in the middle of the school year, do not hesitate to contact the teacher and ask your child what is going on!

-By Devany LeDrew