Do you have a grouchy child after school? Does that, in turn, make you a grouch, too? I’ve been there.
I have an elementary-aged child, and I found an after-school routine that seems to keep the bad moods at bay. I hope these good habits carry through as time goes on. Here is what I have learned after a lot of trial and error:
- Don’t hound them about anything negative as soon as they get home. Bad behaviors will and should be addressed (maybe after dad gets home), but don’t make them worried to walk in the door. I used to hound my son about his behaviors right off the bat before I realized he wasn’t happy to come home, and I hated that feeling.
- Have a good snack ready, something with go-power. It’s been a long time since lunch, and they need a good snack before dinner (energy bites or an apple with peanut butter or a protein bar with a banana, for instance.) I give a good snack so I don’t have to hear 10 more snack requests before dinnertime.
- Ask them to tell you three good things about their day before letting them complain about something. We discuss this while he’s eating his snack. Many times when he walks in, he already knows the three things he’s going to tell me. It helps him focus on the positive things. I also ask specific questions, like what he did for gym or recess, or who he sat by at lunch, or how an assignment went (spelling or math test, etc.) These questions often get him talking more about his day and will reveal anything we might need to discuss, like conflicts or good news.
- Let them relax for about a half hour after getting home. It’s hard to be at school all day in a strict routine with little recess. I give him a little down time after his snack. Sometimes he just sits and plays with LEGO at the table, or I let him watch one 30-minute TV show. I have a toddler who is glad to see him when he gets home, and this way, they get a little play time together.
- After rest time, do homework. This is a good work flow for us right now. He has to have homework done before I allow additional electronics, so he usually asks to do it, and it isn’t an epic battle. By now, it’s 5:00 pm, and he does his homework while I’m making dinner and little brother colors at the table next to him. It usually only takes him 15 minutes or so, then he has free time until dinner at 6:00 pm.
This routine really helps keep all of us (including my toddler and me) from being after-school grouches!
My son is happy to come home to a welcoming space, and we are set up for a pleasant evening. He is free to enjoy activities after dinner, and we get the homework log completed without a struggle. Win-win!
Head to the Family Room
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This post was written by Audra Rogers exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.