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5 Effective Strategies to Promote Self-Regulation in Young Kids and Avoid After-School Meltdowns

“Why is it that they are so good at school but have a complete meltdown as soon as they see me!”

Have you said this before? I want to let you in on a little secret …

It’s perfectly normal and your child isn’t the only one who does this ! I’m serious!

They unravel for us, in the home where they feel safe, with the people who they are one hundred percent comfortable with and who will love them unconditionally without fail.

But that it doesn’t make it any easier!

It’s completely overwhelming to mom, siblings, and other family members.

All around overwhelming feelings that often triggers us into a downward spiral with feelings of not being in control or you lose your temper in the moment - despite wanting to stay calm.

In these moments when we need to regulate their emotions we also have to make sure we have strategies in place to help navigate these feelings.

This is a BIG job!

I recommend starting with a few very effective strategies to promote self-regulation in young kids.


5 Effective Strategies to Promote Self-Regulation in Young Kids and [hopefully] avoid after-school meltdowns


It's important to have some quick snack options ready to go after school. I always try to have some fruit with yogurt, fun and enticing charcuterie boards with several of their favorite foods to choose from, homemade muffins , and other healthy options available for the kids. Preparing grab-and-go snacks is a way better option than processed, pre-packaged food that often is high in sugar. We also have cold water ready to go!

*But let me be clear…we are all doing the best we can with what we’ve got, and sometimes that means grabbing pre-packaged snacks. You can definitely make the best choice possible in those scenarios and feel good about your decisions!

2. Sometimes, they need to lie down and rest after such a long day.

3. Avoid asking about their day until they’ve had the chance to relax a bit. Kids are often quite tired at the end of the school day. If they are not up to talking right away, try to hold back on your questions until they have had time to relax and have a snack. Once refueled, they may be up for sharing about their school day.

4. Invite them to partake in quiet activities. Doing puzzles, painting, coloring, and playing with play dough can be a nice way to unwind. For many kids, a long hard day at school can be stressful and tiring. These activities for unwinding after school take very little time to set up, and can be an effective way to relax and recharge energy levels.

5. If you can, go play outside. Fresh air and a chance to blow off steam can be a game changer. Exercise serves as a physical outlet to relieve pent up stress, tension, and anxiety. The more we move, the more we release tension we’ve been holding onto (oftentimes, tension we didn’t even realize we had!). Whether it's a long walk around your neighborhood,playing at the playground or kicking a ball in your backyard exercise and being actively active helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, when your body feels better so, too, will your mind.


Remember; the beginning of the school year is stressful, tiring, complicated and that’s just for a typical September. Now add in all the nuances of schooling through a pandemic and you have a new level of stress and emotions.

It’s ok if a new season forces a new system to be implemented. That doesn’t make you a bad mother or parent.

Think about the ebb and flow in terms of seasons and how implementing new strategies and pre-planning for big emotions can help to focus on long term growth for both you and your child.


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