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How to Avoid After School Meltdowns

Do you find yourself walking on eggshells when your child gets home from school? Do you dread asking them to do anything, for fear that it will cause an explosion? Does your child seem irritable, anxious and exhausted at the end of the school day? Follow our helpful tips below to avoid the dreaded afterschool meltdown. 

The Do’s and Don’ts to Prevent After School Meltdowns 

The school year has kicked off, and for many kids, the honeymoon period is over. They are fully immersed in their classes and unfortunately, this is when things start to unravel. Going to school can be really hard for many kids; the social situations can be overwhelming and anxiety provoking, they may have difficulties sitting still and focusing, and the rules and responsibilities can be stressful. Many kids are able to hold it together all day long, and save up their most difficult behaviors for when they get home. Whether they’re refusing to do their homework, or throwing full blown tantrums, parents are often at a loss for how to respond. The good news is, we can help you make simple changes that will bring peace to your home by following our after school Do’s and Don’ts.

  • Give your child some downtime. Kids need time away from the rules and structure of the school day. Allow them to play and unwind on their own terms, before you start the after school routine.
  • Feed your child. Many children come home starving and dehydrated, which can lead to irritability and crabbiness. Get ahead of the hangry monster by having a snack and some water ready.
  • Remember that your child isn’t trying to be disrespectful or defiant. If it was easy for them to respond in a different way, they would. Understand that the school day can be anxiety producing and their feelings are being reflected in their behavior. If you’re following the Fair but Firm program, you can be empathetic, but also hold them accountable for undesirable behaviors through the use of consequences.
  • Stay rational. When you are calm, it is contagious. If you catch yourself raising your voice, it is very possible that you will unintentionally escalate an already volatile situation. If you feel like you are losing your temper, take a few minutes to give yourself a break and recharge.
  • Give Times. If you are following the Fair but Firm Program, and your child is being defiant, arguing with you or yelling – give them a Time. This will help your child reset and become rational.
  • Game Nights! Game Nights are a great opportunity to connect the family and create a positive experience.


  • Interrogate your child about their day. Delivering a series of rapid fire questions can be annoying and trigger an angry response. A simple greeting – “It’s so good to see you” – followed by some space is a good way connect and allow them to decompress. You can save the questions for later.  Better yet, have them ask you questions.  Ask your Behavioral Consultant about the skill “Conversations”.
  •  Take all of your child’s privileges away. Because you are a human, it’s understandable that you may get very frustrated with your child’s behavior. At times, you may get so frustrated that you overact and your instinct is to take away everything. This can backfire as your child may get the attitude “well, now I have nothing to lose”, which can actually make the behavior worse. You want them to see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel if they make it through the rest of the day. This is a great time to call your Behavioral Consultant to determine appropriate consequences for your child’s behaviors.
  • Make your child’s homework your problem. Homework is an extension of what kids are already learning in school, and it’s not your responsibility to make sure they get it done. If homework becomes a battle, issue a consequence and let the school handle the rest. If this becomes a chronic problem, speak with your behavioral consultant so we can help.  If you are using the Fair But Firm Program, we have a more effective technique to get your child to do their homework. If you are not there yet, don’t fret, you will be soon.
  • Be hard on yourself if not everything goes as planned. There are going to be days where your child doesn’t do their homework, eats cereal for dinner, and you just don’t have the fight in you to deal with getting them showered. THAT’S OKAY! Remind yourself that you’re doing a great job and try to recall 1 or 2 things that went right during the day; it can be something as simple as your child letting his/her sibling sit in the front seat without a fight or you were able to share a laugh over something funny.

With increased social and academic pressures at school, it’s no wonder kid’s return home in a less than pleasant state. If you’re applying the aforementioned strategies and still struggling, reach out to us! We are here to help you.

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