The early evening can be pretty hard work. Many parents experience behaviours at this time of day that aren’t so fun such as attention seeking, arguing, defiance or tantrums. Let me share a simple strategy that will support your child emotionally and reduce the amount of time you need to spend dealing with these types of behaviours.

Every day your child is experiencing emotions, which if not processed completely at the time, will be stored in the body until they are able to find an outlet.

For example, perhaps while at daycare another child snatched a toy your child was playing with and they couldn’t get it back… This ‘energy’ will cause tension and agitation in the body which can lead to those behaviours showing up such as whining, not listening to you, being uncooperative, siblings arguing or tantrums etc.

Especially if you’ve been separated from your child for some or all of the day it’s really important to take some time when you come back together to reconnect through active play.

This is going to help your child to feel emotionally safe and secure and release any emotions they’re holding onto from the day through laughter. 

It’s really common that you might not feel very playful at that time of day.

And as a mum, I get it. Although you might start feeling all your reasons not to play come up why you can’t (too tired, got to make dinner, do laundry, or whatever it is) if you make yourself commit to 10 minutes (rationally, those things can wait 10 minutes, right?) you will actually give yourself a boost of energy to get through the evening (just like after exercise, after playing actively with your child the body releases chemicals that boost your sense of well-being and suppress hormones that cause stress and anxiety) AND help your child to feel more relaxed, calm and cooperative for the rest of the evening.

Instead of feeling frustrated by your child’s behaviour and things not flowing the way you’d like them to, look for opportunities to actively play together.

Here are 5 quick examples,

  1. Chase – reverse the power roles so that you are the slow or clumsy parent and your speedy child just manages to stay out of reach! 
  1. Peek a boo or Hide and Seek –  These games create small visual and spatial separations that help your child to process feelings around being separated from you during the day. When children laugh during this type of play they are releasing some of the tension that they hold through laughter.
  1. Bath time play – give your child the choice of what you can play together during this time (cafe or toy boats for example)
  1. Transitions – allow time to be playful with transitions rather than frustrated, eg  make up a funny teeth brushing song or be silly with getting dressed, ‘where do these pants go again? On your head?’ 
  1. Bedtime story – Try making up a bedtime story together, taking turns to say what happens next.

In reality these types of play only take 5-15 extra minutes of time. And by engaging in them you’ll actually end up saving time! So think of it as an investment.

Because your child will be feeling more connected to you, calm and cooperative you will naturally see a reduction in the amount of time you need to spend dealing with  challenging behaviours like uncooperation, arguing, defiance, tantrums.

Would you like to know more about inviting cooperation, ease + flow into your evening routine? Click the image below to download my free eBook, it’s jam-packed with tips to support you with this.

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