Do you find your child's behavior difficult after school? Try these tips and healthy recipe to get them back on track.

One of the reasons users LOVE Thumsters on subscription is for the detailed reporting. The analytics are brilliant for learning about your kids behavior patterns….. monitoring them allows a parent to see if there are certain times of day their child may be getting consistent thumbs down (or thumbs up!) and needs a bit of support, or if a REASON for a thumbs down is occurring more than others. This in turn allows the parent or carer to figure out a strategy to help their child get on top of that particular behavior.  

A time of day that is common for kids to receive multiple thumbs down, young children in particular, is right around 3-3:30 otherwise known as….. school pick up.  School pick up - 3 words that can install fear in many a parent!  

Have you ever wondered why young kids seem to fall to pieces this time of day? There are a few very logical reasons.  

For ANY kid, but especially littlies around the ages of 5-8, a school day is a looooooooong day.  Depending on the time of year it may be a long HOT day, or, a long COLD day, both of which expend a lot of energy for a little body!  While we are often sitting quietly in our offices in front of computers, elementary school kids are running, playing, exploring, learning, enquiring, talking to a million people, practicing good behavior (that takes energy!), walking to assembly, possibly having swim lessons or PE, laughing, interacting and socializing.  It’s exhausting just reading that list!

Have you ever had a teacher say, they’re an absolute angel in class! Meanwhile you’re inwardly thinking (while enthusiastically smiling and nodding on the outside), then why do they LOSE IT the second they get in the car?!  Is it ME????! Actually it’s a well-adjusted and ‘confident in Mum/Dad’ kid who knows to treat others respectfully when they are out and about, but feel safe enough in your presence to let it all out once their little minds are in a safe space and are exhausted after a mentally and emotionally draining day of learning and play at school. Of course this doesn’t make their behavior once they slam that car door shut and yell at you for packing Oreo’s in their lunch instead of Nutter Butters ok, (thumbs down buddy, we don’t speak to each other that way in our house!)

Another common reason for the 3:30 ‘tudes, is low blood sugar.  Not the kind that is brought about by something serious like diabetes.  However, consider your young child’s day.  They most likely ate half an hour to an hour before leaving for school, and sometimes this meal is rushed or not finished due to rushing to get ready and out the door. They then have a good 6 hours of learning and playing with their mates, both of which expend a lot of energy.  Many children around this age simply don’t eat a lot of or sometimes ANY of their lunches as they are itching to get out and play at break time after being locked up in a classroom all day.  Or they might not like what you’ve packed them (collective groan from parents everywhere)! Or, they may have eaten it all and simply USED all that energy up by the time they come to the end of their long ‘work day’ being kids.  

So they get to you after school, ever so slightly hypoglycaemic, low on blood sugars, irritable, sometimes slightly headachy, moody and potentially anxious.  Something that happened with their teacher or a class mate may be playing on their mind and their feelings are compounded due to their empty tummies and energy tanks.  To put it mildly, they are HANGRY!  If you find your kids are getting a lot of thumbs down around that school pick up time, can we highly recommend coming to pick-up prepared with a healthy snack for them. Healthy snacks which are good at boosting blood sugars and keeping them level (eg. Not a huge spike followed by a big crash!) include the following:

A piece of fruit and a handful of nuts

A wholegrain sandwich with a slice of cheese or smashed avocado

A small tub of greek yogurt with some mixed berries

Carrot and cucumber sticks with a small tub of hummus

Home made protein balls (recipe below!)

Do NOT just say: ‘eat whatever’s left in your lunchbox’, a warm yogurt tube that’s been staring up at them from their lunch box all day is far less appealing than some crisp veggie sticks with avocado mash….. If you are a working parent, try taking it to work with you if possible and put it in the fridge so it’s still nice and fresh/cool at pick-up.    

Try this one simple change to your daily routine and see if it makes a difference in your childs approach to their afternoon, whether that’s homework and/or chores, or just an afternoon bouncing on the tramp with their siblings, we hope it brings a little more peace and a few more thumbs up moments to your family!

Best Ever Fudgey Protein Balls

1.5 cups of nuts*
Approx 20 medjool dates, pips removed
1 cup of cacao or cocoa
1/2 cup of natural pea protein (no additives)
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil
pinch of Celtic or Himalayan sea salt

Whazz up your nuts in a food processor first to break them down, (you want them finely chopped but not until they are a 'flour') then add the dates and combine.  Add in the rest of your ingredients. Once the mixture starts coming together in the processor, roll into serving sized balls. Eat one. Eat the whole lot. Eat half the mixture while you are rolling the other half.... This is a judgement free zone. You do you.

These are a great after school snack as they include a decent hit of all the healthy essentials for an energy boost: healthy fats, good carbs and replenishing protein. They also make an AWESOME 'I have four children and work a full time job and have run out of time getting us all ready in the morning' kind of breakfast, with a piece of fruit. Make a double batch and they'll last a whole week in the fridge!

*Any nuts will work, preferably organic, and definitely raw (not roasted where all the goodness is cooked away...)  For the batch in the photo I used some ABC mix nuts (almonds brazil and cashews) or often I'll use a mix of whatever is left in my different nut packets. It always tastes the same!