Today is the first day of term here in South Australia and there will be many little ones starting out on their journey of education. For some it will be exciting and full of joy, for others there will be lots of anxiety and stress.

Don’t be surprised if your child has a major meltdown when they get home from school and is transformed into some kind of a monster. Some children may behave in a way that you have not experienced before. This is their pressure valve exploding.

Some children manage to hold it together just long enough to get home to a safe space where they know that they are loved and where they can safely let it all out. They may be hungry, tired, they may have been holding in their toilet business all afternoon. They have probably been trying to manage their emotions all day long.

If at all possible go straight home after school, or allow some time to run it off in a park after school. They need to breathe deeply and relax in a place where they can unwind and let it all out.

Avoid asking lots of questions, even though you are probably bursting to know what it was all like, who they played with and did they have a good time? The chances are that they had a great day, but they will be exhausted and may not want to talk about it.

There is only so much that a 5 year old can take and you may just be on the receiving end of their pressure valve release.

Please be patient and calm with them. There is only so much that a 5 year old can take and you may just be on the receiving end of their pressure valve release. This is not a time for punishment or yelling, give them what they need from you, validation of their emotions, lots of love and reassurance. It will get better as they adapt to their new school life.

You can take some comfort from this and know that your child feels safe with you and loved enough to finally let it all go. And that is a wonderful gift that you have given your child.


Sonia is the founder and director of CHILD SA. CHILD SA aims to provide education and support for families, educators and organisations in order to foster a deep understanding of the social and emotional development and wellbeing of babies and children in the early years. Sonia holds a Graduate Certificate in Child and Family Health Nursing from Flinders University and has worked with children and families in the community for over 16 years.

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