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  • Writer's pictureValerie

Why is my kids' behavior so good at School and Terrors at home?

Finding the Balance between your Kids' School and Home Behaviors.

Why do my kids have two sides?

kids screaming

My husband has this funny story from his childhood. He was a preteen, and his mom got a call from his teacher, asking jokingly if she could clone him. His mom was shocked because she joked that he was the kid who invented the color behavior chart because of all his school antics in elementary.

Now why do I tell you this story?

Well, I’ve had a couple of these phone calls myself. Often my kids teachers will rave about my kids. There is a part of me that says, ‘I’d like to meet that kid too.’

Why do I say this, well sometimes I feel like my kids have one personality at school and a completely different personality at home. Kinda like a little Two-faced villain and do-gooder that changes at the flip of a coin Or more accurately at the opening of my car door.

I say this jokingly, but there are a few good reasons for this confusing behavior.

After a long day at school or daycare, many kids lose it when their parent picks them up or when they get home. There’s even a name for it: after-school restraint collapse.

It happens, says Andrea Loewen Nair, the London, Ont.-based counselor and parenting educator who coined the term, because kids hold it together all day and only release their true emotions when they get to a safe place. Some kids become weepy, while others scream, throw things, and become generally unreasonable. Older kids might act rude and disrespectful, hurling insults at you and their siblings.

Sounds familiar?

But knowing what’s going on is only half the battle. The next hurdle is what we do with an overwhelmed chaotic emotional mess of a kid or kids.

The First Step is to be the calm in the room. I say this often because it is a struggle of mine. For me, I have to mentally and prayerfully prep myself for those hours between pick-up and bedtime.

woman with a calm face

Remember no one has good emotional control when they are hungry or tired. Your kiddo will be tired after a long day at school, but always having a snack ready will help keep the ‘hangry monster’ away. For my family, I make sure to have snacks in the car so this monster is tamed before we even enter our home.

Next, give them space to be physical. Bottled-up emotions never end well. But giving your child an avenue to express the pent-up emotions healthily will lead to fewer meltdowns.

Whether it’s walking home from school, heading to a playground for 30 minutes, jumping on the trampoline, tickle fights, or listening to music. Being able to decompress from the day will go miles toward helping your kids have greater emotional regulation in your home.

group of kids blowing bubbles

Limit Screens. I know this can be a hard one. In part because we know our kids need to decompress, and we as adults often have a few more things on our to-do list to finish up. But video games are not good releases for a child’s brain. Our children’s brains are still developing and learning how to cope with big emotions. With their underdeveloped brains, it is rare for video gaming to allow their brains to process through the emotions of the day. Video games often increase the emotional output and overstimulate the child’s already overwhelmed brain. So try to limit the amount of time and even the type of game if screen time is a need in your evening routines.

One of the biggest needs in your child’s emotional entanglement is You. Just as much as you miss them during the day they miss you as well. They miss the security and love that comes from you. So be sure to make time for each child in the latter half of the day.

In our house, I try to make sure each kiddo has space with me at the end of the day. There is a time to sit together, read together, do a devotional together, or talk together. This helps my kids feel heard, loved, and safe as they head off to bed.

In the chaos of your child’s emotions take a deep breath and remember they are still learning how to manage their emotions. You will be the one they emulate and set the tone for your home.

family hug

‘It all comes down to your kids feeling safe and supported, particularly when they’re vulnerable and you can’t be with them. Lapointe says to stay connected, and keep them brimming with “messages of enduring, no-matter-what, love and acceptance.”’

That’s the type of home we want our kids to love to come home to.


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