Ah, the homecoming after school. It is the time of day most kids who are exceptional both love and stress about. It is a happy homecoming away from school and responsibilities, yet it also means open space, less predictable structure, and if you child is anything like mine, anxiety shoots up high like heat on a thermostat in the winter. What can a parent do to stay calm in the face of their child’s anxiety storm about the “after school routine?” Well, for starters structure it. Yep. I know. Our kids do need to get away from structure and learn to live with downtime, but parents, let’s face it. Our kids are hard-wired to be anxious. It’s in their DNA. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, if they learn ways to handle it, handle their feelings, and structure what they can. It’s also important that you, as their primary caregiver, learn to handle your own stress about downtime and structure. It is your job to take care of your stress level so you are open and calm for them, just as it is their job to handle their own feelings. Now, this does not mean that every parent and child will be stress free every day. That is impossible. But, if a parent knows what sets their kid off, try to do less of that. It’s also important to know what helps them feel calm and centered and do more of that.
It’s the same for us as parents. I know for me that if i do not get my five to ten minute coffee and time to collect my thoughts sitting in my favorite chair waiting for the bus to arrive, the evening will go VERY differently with Michael. It will be harder for me to deal with any upheavals. But if I am centered, calm, and able to stay in the moment, no matter WHAT HAPPENS, I can help Michael do his best to find his center. On that note, here are 5 tips to survive the after school homecoming when there is anxiety:
- Take 5 minutes or more if you can for you: This is so important. You cannot predict what kind of a day your child has had. However, if you are calm and in control of your stress level, that can translate to more patience for their outbursts, especially if they are negative.
- Remember your homecoming from school: Think back to how you felt coming home from school. Weren’t there days when you wanted to throw that school bag across the room? You had good and bad days too. Did you have someone to turn to who got it? If so, great. Be that parent to your child. If not, that’s too bad, but you have a chance to redo history. Be the parent you needed growing up.
- Consider an after-school program if your child can handle it: Sometimes the time when your child comes home does not give either of you much of a parent/child breather. Consider an after-school program where you can have freedom of when to pick up your child. This could be the lifesaver you and your child need to have less stress and anxiety.
- Work with your child in advance on tools to prepare for after-school homecoming: This requires advance planning, but with the help of therapists, teachers, and other Moms and Dads, (as well as your own parenting brilliance), find tools that can help your child calm down on their home from school. Help them anticipate how to deal with their anxiety and stress and learn ways to manage it. There are so many great tools such as books, resources on the internet and on You Tube for meditation, yoga and breathing techniques that you can hopefully find at least one for your child to try.
- Go with the flow and adapt: Sometimes you try everything to stay calm and show an example of zen like behavior and your child still blows up like a volcano. Don’t worry. You did your best. So did they. There will be calm days and days like your home is in volcano mode. Go with the flow. Learn from the experience, good and bad. I have seen in my parenting and professional experience that our children teach us all the time in positive and negative moments. Make sure they learn from you in all moments, and don’t be afraid to let them know that life is about moving forward.
Exceptional Parents, what are some life lessons you have learned about school home comings? What would you do differently now in retrospect? Remember, life is not happening to us, but for us, (and our children), as the saying goes. We all can grow together. Find strategies that work. And most importantly of all, show one another unconditional love along the way for being who we are. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach. I blog about how my exceptional son with autism and type 1 diabetes is raising me to a better human being and exceptional mom. My mission is to empower other exceptional parents to trust in their parenting instinct while letting their exceptional child open their eyes to all that is possible! For more information on my coaching services and to download a copy of my FREE EBOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY” see my website, http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.