Children can have very tricky days at school, all it can take is a word they struggle to understand, a bad day with a friend or not getting chosen to do something special. It's crucial to recognise that these issues might be the beginning of school-related pressures (Mental Health Foundation, 2018) and it is equally important to teach children how to de-stress and work through difficult emotions. How to approach this can be difficult as it can be hard to spot stressed children but also because children can have their own ideas about post-school activities. However, what we instil in our children early on can be a valuable foundation for handling future stress and expectations, especially as they face challenges like school exams.
In this blog post we wanted to share some tips on how to encourage some after school de-stressing within your household. These will help build routines and hopefully encourage your children to come to you when they are struggling.
1. Don't Jump Straight in Front of a Screen
Given that children spend the majority of their day screen-free at school, the instinct might be to let them dive right into the television, tablet, or video games. However, it's important to note that screens act as stimulants. So, before granting screen time, consider doing some homework and perhaps engaging in a screen-free activity to help unwind the mind from a busy day (E. Haycraft et al, 2020). For a deeper dive into the effects of screen time, you can check out our detailed exploration in the 'The Benefits of Encouraging Screen-Free Time' blog post.
2. Get Creative
Get the paints out, pens, crayons, whatever you may have and get creative. This is a perfect way to de-stress as there is no pressure involved and gets the imagination flowing. This could simply be a drawing or painting session or getting crafty by doing such activities like potato stamping, this eco-friendly DIY slime from the National Geographic Kids looks fun, or putting on your favourite audiobook and creating artwork inspired by the story.
3. Unwind with Meditations
Engaging in mindfulness can offer an effective way to quickly de-stress after school. Consider incorporating a family meditation session either just before or after homework to promote a sense of calmness in thoughts and emotions. Making it a family activity not only provides active encouragement but also contributes to fostering better communication within the family. For an in-depth look at the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, check out our 'Mindfulness Beginnings' blog post.
4. Have a Snack and Chat
Sometimes the best thing we can do is encourage communication with our children. When you get home from school grab a snack and pick your favourite chilling spot in the house and have a conversation about their day at school, their favourite things about their day, anything that didn’t go well and what they are looking forward to for the next day. Be mindful and don’t force a conversation that isn’t coming. Enjoy your snack together and just have some quality time.
There are so many ways to de-stress after school but these were some of our favourites to help get you started. We hope you enjoyed this blog post and if you would like to keep up to date with our latest blogs, sign up to our newsletter.