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How to stop after School meltdowns

Not long ago, I was chatting with my friend after school one day.   We were talking about our kids and how tired they are after school… we started talking about the hours of homework that our kids had (my fifth grader & her fourth grader).  Then she said that her son, the fourth grader, would come home grumpy every day.   He was rude and just not himself, but it was only after school.  She asked me if this had ever happened with our kids… and I said YES.

Yes, it happened before and yes it will happen again.

A young boy sitting on the floor with his head in his hands.

The thing is, our kids don’t act that way to their teachers, they don’t act that way to their friends on the way home, but they act that way when they are with us.

Why are kids more grumpy when they are with us?

Because our kids know that we will love them no matter what. They know that they can complain and even act frustrated around us because we will love them (and like them) afterward. They trust us that much.

Try to think about what that means: if you are mad (or sad) about something, who do you call? That’s the person that you know will love you no matter what.

It happens to our kids, and we see it when they get home. They have held it together all day at school and when they get home, they feel safe enough to let it out.

What can we do to help after-school meltdowns?

  1. Have a snack ready

    Our kids are always grumpy when they are hungry. Their blood sugar drops & their impatience rises. We have snacks ready as soon as our kids walk in the door. Usually, I have a vegetable tray ready to go, but if we have practice or something else where we need to leave shortly after they get home, I’ll give them something to fill them up a bit more. 

A plate of pizza and vegetables on a white plate.
If I have pizza or something more than a snack cooking when they come in the door, they usually they say two things:
1. “I’m so hungry”
2.”Do I have baseball tonight?” (Hahaha! This is because I serve it on nights where we have to be somewhere)

Pizza… That’s about all that it takes to put a big smile on their faces!



2. Don’t play ‘20 Questions’ right when they walk in the door.

Think about when you’ve come home from work and you’ve had a trying day or you are just exhausted, but when you walk through the door, someone asks you every question under the sun. What would it do to you?

I try to ask our kids just a few like, “Did you have a great day?” and save the real questions for dinner & bedtime (That’s when the good stuff comes out anyway).

3. Get the homework out of the way

Our kids always have homework and the worst thing that I can do is say, “We’ll do it later” because it never works. Why? Because they are tired later. They are not in school-mode later. They are ready to do something else later. So- we do it right after school (well, right after they eat).
Related: We have a DIY designated Homework Station. I find that it helps to minimize distractions.

A room filled with furniture and a window.



Let them relax. Our kids will put on a show and watch it for about 30 minutes after their homework. It is a great way to just let them have some downtime… let their minds just “zone out” for a few minutes.

A little girl sitting on a bed holding a remote control.


5. Go outside to play

No matter how chilly it becomes, our kids are always out there playing. They will call a neighbor to meet them outside or just play with one another. They need this time to just let loose, run around and be silly. Don’t we all?

Three boys playing in the grass.
A girl sitting on a couch.

Thank you Ellio’s Pizza for sponsoring this post, on behalf of Dr. Oetker USA LLC.

Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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