I knew every day it was coming and even when I thought I was best prepared, it took me by surprise and shook my mood. She would tumble off the bus with a smile, but with in seconds, she was in breakdown mode. It looked something like an angry tornado flopping about my classroom, frustrated by any attempted task, unsatisfied by all answers, and so utterly demanding. To look at her, you would feel completely sorry for the teacher that just suffered the day with someone so completely miserable and out of control, but it was never the case at school. At school she was compliant and could even be called a delight. So why did I get this honey badger version of my daughter delivered to my classroom each day? Why would she be kind all day and then turn into this nightmare upon returning home?
The answer was fairly simple, it took everything she had to keep it together at school all day. She knew what was expected of her and aimed to please. Maybe sometimes hanging on by a thread and then seeing mom at the end of the day, she let it a go. Once the lid to the box of her emotions was opened, it spilled out engulfing us all in a wave of crisis. So what were we to do, because after a day of school and work no one really wanted their evening to be one disaster after another. We found a few things that helped. Realizing that lunch was at 11:00 and she was getting out of school close to 4:00, we knew she was really hungry. So I found more substantial snacks including making her eat a yogurt or applesauce pouch at her afternoon school snack. I then packed snacks that should could eat immediately after getting of the bus at the school where I was working. Dinner then followed by 5:00 and usually once that settled in with her,she dropped the honey badger act and returned to a more human form.
I gave her a physical break as soon as I possibly could. The Gym1 was key with this. She would do tons of flips while listening to music. She needed space from us all at this point. I also tried to stay patient, but after a full day of teaching 23 first graders myself, I often had a hard time with this. While correcting the behavior is important, I have learned over the years that in the midst of her emotional breaks, lessons aren’t often learned. I wish there was an easy solution to help end these meltdowns after school, but it is a process. They have almost disappeared this year, which is a result of many factors including maturity, a later lunch, less time to wait to go home, and a trampoline right in my classroom that she can use at the end of the day. Just know if your child is melting down at home, it is because they feel safe there and have done a great job of holding it together all day where it really counts.