After School Restraint Collapse: How Sleep Can Help

Girl sitting at her desk at school. After school restraint collapse.

Have you noticed that your child has done well at school or daycare all day and then returns home only to meltdown minutes later? They were well behaved during the day, playing nicely with other kids, then when they got home they were misbehaving and pushing back on everything? This is called after school restraint collapse (coined by Andrea Loewen Nair) . It happens because you are their safe space, where your children can show their true emotions. They may feel like they need to hold it together at daycare or school and become emotionally overwhelmed. Once they come home to their familiar environment with the people they love, they feel OK to let out the feelings they were holding in all day. After school restraint collapse can present itself in many ways. Your child may become sad, they may throw tantrums or act rude and disrespectful.

There are some things you can do to help with after school restraint collapse and sleep plays a major role. Improving sleep for your little one can help in preventing an overtired child, setting your well-rested child up for success in their first weeks of school. Here are some ways to get sleep on track before school and during those first few weeks.

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Adjust your schedule before school

Starting your child on the schedule they will have during school can help get their body adjusted and used to their new routine. Start this process two weeks before their first day. Have them wake up and go to bed at the times that they would need to during school. 

Move bedtime earlier 

School can be a whole new level of tiring activities for our little ones. Many children may still need their afternoon nap as well, but will not be getting that rest period with full-day kindergarten. This is where you can use an earlier bedtime to your advantage. Once school starts, bring bedtime earlier for the first few weeks as their body adjusts to the new level of mental and physical activities. Especially if they were still napping before school started. An earlier bedtime will help get your child the extra rest they need from adjusting their bodies so much. Once they have adjusted, you can continue to watch for sleepy cues and plan bedtime accordingly.

Solve sleep problems before school starts

If your child is exhibiting any issues with sleep, such as night wakings, early morning wakings, or tough bedtimes, get those problems solved before school starts. Adjusting and improving sleep can be tougher when a child is starting a new, unfamiliar routine, and is overtired. Once you have decided you are ready to make a change in your child’s sleep, come up with a plan that your whole family is comfortable with. Have a family meeting so your child is aware of the changes that will be happening. Most importantly, stay consistent with the changes you have made.

Focusing on healthy sleep habits can be the foundation to reducing after school restraint collapse. In addition to improving sleep, here are a few tips that can also help.

Have a snack ready

Oftentimes our children are hungry when they arrive home. They have participated in new activities that they may not be used to and this can work up an appetite. Having a filling and nutritious snack ready can help curb those hungry feelings.

Focus on easy dinners

Having some easy dinners, or pre-made dinners ready for the evening can help you spend more time with your children when they come home.

Allow your child time to decompress

Give your child some space after school before you start asking them how their day was and what they learned. Whether you’re walking or driving home, stay quiet and let your child lead the conversation. Focus your attention on the surroundings as opposed to having big conversations. Try to avoid scheduling any big events or playdates directly after school so your child can have some time to decompress at the end of the school day.

Sleep Consultant Jenny Peach
Sleep Consultant Jenny Peach

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