It’s often claimed that children save their worst behaviour for their parents - and there can seem to be an awful lot of truth in that statement, especially when our child comes home from preschool!
There’s a reason.
When our child is at preschool, they’re working hard at self-regulating. Self-regulation requires them to control two things: their emotions and their impulses. At preschool our child will be trying hard not to cry when they’re hurt or angry (emotional control) and they’ll be trying to follow the routines and timetables set by others (impulse control).
By contrast, when a child is at home they will be more comfortable expressing their emotions, they’ll feel less inhibited, and they’ll get to exercise more control over when they eat, play, have quiet time or run around.
For young children, the self-regulation that is needed when they’re away from the comfort of their parents is arduous. Throw in the fact that they’re at preschool learning and navigating new friendships and expectations, away from home all day; it’s really no wonder children unravel after preschool (and school).
What can we do to promote calmness after preschool?
- First, we should make sure their basic needs have been met (perhaps a snack on the way home to get their blood sugar up even before they get in the door).
- Let them relax.
- Give them space.
- Encourage them to lie down (either with or without us).
- Suggest quiet activities like puzzles, painting, colouring and play dough - nice ways for children to unwind.
- Set up ‘invitations to play’ (allowing children to direct their own play by offering open-ended, meaningful resources to explore).
- Be patient and calm ourselves.
- Encourage them to go outside and blow off steam in the fresh air (or the rain!).
It might even be worth considering an occasional day off from preschool to let them replenish their self-regulation reserves.
We may get the worst of our child’s behaviour, but we get the best of it too!