Dear Katherine,

When I pick my son up from school, he seems to shut down completely. I ask him about his day, and he gives me one-word answers or responds, “I don’t know,” to my questions. 

He’s definitely prone to anxiety, but I’m worried about how down he seems when he gets home. 

How can I get him to open up? 

Sincerely,

Feeling Bummed

Feeling Bummed,

I’m sorry to hear that your son seems so down when he gets home from school. I think I can help.

Generally speaking, there are three options for confronting undesirable behavior in children:

Option #1: Change your child’s behavior. Most parents start here. Attempting to change a kid’s behavior may seem like the most direct response, but it isn’t easy, and the changes won’t happen overnight.

Option #2: Change your own behavior. Adjusting your own behavior is easier because you have full control of your actions. Who among us doesn’t have things they could change to elicit different reactions from people?

Option #3: Change the environment. Believe it or not, this third option is the simplest and most effective course of action. Ask yourself how you might adjust the environment to impact your child’s behavior.

I recommend starting with Option #3. Here’s my parenting tip for you, Feeling Bummed:

Bring a nutritious snack along when you pick up your child from school and try to make sure he eats it as soon as you get in the car. This small action could yield significant results. Let’s unpack why.

Pexels Darina Belonogova 7208663 1

Children burn glucose much faster than adults. The brain needs glucose to process information and carry out tasks. You mentioned that your son has anxiety, so it stands to reason that he’s probably burning more glucose than a non-anxious child because of all the mental work he puts in to make it through the day.

Most kids are hungry by the end of the school day, which can deplete their mental bandwidth. Providing carrots, apple slices, or cheese and crackers at pickup can make a world of difference in your parent-child communication.

Once you give him his snack, hold off on asking any questions for a solid 10 minutes to let his brain absorb those nutrients. In the meantime, prime him for a positive interaction by telling him that you missed him during the day, you’re happy to be spending time with him now, and you love him.

If bringing him a snack doesn’t work, try out other environmental adjustments until you crack the code. Maybe your son doesn’t like to talk when he’s in the car. Perhaps he needs a good 30 minutes to decompress before he’s ready to engage with you.

Keep in mind that children are outer-directed all day long and have no opportunities to exercise their autonomy needs at school. Getting in that car or finally landing at home is their first chance to choose space, quiet, and self-direction.

The sooner you start experimenting, the faster you can expect your parenting win. I’m rooting for you!

Love and Blessings,

Katherine

P.S. Have you heard my latest podcast with Women Road Warriors? I loved speaking about How to Communicate with Your Kids & Teens Without Losing Your Mind with Shelley Johnson and Kathy Tuccaro! Listen here!

You might also like

Would you be surprised to know that the invention of Doritos was influenced by a trashcan at Disneyland? In the...
According to Ziprecruiter, as of Aug 5, 2022, the average annual pay for a “Motivational Speaker” in the United States...
Hearing the phrase “you’re such a con-artist!” coming from the lips of a potential investor during a live pitch is...
Did everyone agree with everything you said at the last meeting of your top executive team? Did everybody follow the...
Subway currently holds the status of being the biggest fast-food chain on the planet. They surpassed McDonald’s and KFC’s store...
Did you know 60% of professional athletes end up broke within 5 years of retiring? Not Shaq though. Far from it,...
In 2012, Jack Conte and his wife, Nataly Dawn, were known as the indie band called Pomplamoose. They were bringing...
Did you know that only 9% of b2b companies rate their digital promotional efforts as highly effective? So chances are...
Nearly every self-made billionaires are obsessed with learning. This video reveals the top to recommended books that had the biggest...
“If you’re starting a company, you always want to aim for a monopoly and avoid competition. Hence, competition is for...
Meet the Former MMA fighter, high school dropout, and single father who had absolutely zero business background bought a business...
The Billion dollar Patagonia brand was started by a bullied teenager living off fifty cents a day learning how to...