Our middle child, a 5 year old boy, has intense emotions. We have (re)started the ticket system with him and his older brother, and he consistently loses tickets after school in the car. We have had a recent move, and he is for the first time in a full day school program. I think he is somewhat tired when get gets in the car, but he generally ends up whining, kicking the back of my seat, screaming or throwing something. The most common time this happens is when we get to our house, and he asks me to carry him into the house. I consistently tell him I will not carry him, and remind him to get his school bag and come inside to unpack it. At this point, he throws a fit as I described above. I walk away from the car into the house after telling him he lost a ticket, so I am not getting into an argument with him.
Can you suggest any tactics to avoid this explosion after school? I don't want to cater to him, but I also know he is tired after a long day.
Hello, and thank you for your question. To focus on this one pattern, I suggest telling your 5 year old that you've spoken with his doctor who told you that the reason smart 5 year old boys melt down after school is because they're not getting enough sleep. Therefore, the doctor is prescribing an extra hour every night until he can control his emotions in the car after school for 2 consecutive school weeks. Make a simple chart with two rows of 5 boxes. If he doesn't melt down on the way home, he'll earn a happy face or sticker in the box. If he does melt down, the two weeks start again. His usual bedtime will be restored once he has been melt down free on the way home for 10 straight school days. When you get in the car after school, remind him of the doctor's orders, play some music he likes and limit conversation unless he initiates it. Keep this behavior separate from what goals you're focused on with the Ticket System.
This is his problem to solve. If he's sufficiently unhappy about having to go to bed early, he will decide to control his emotions on the way home from school. It may take a month or so for him to believe that you mean what you say and that he can fix this problem, but it will be time well spent.
Wishing you pleasant after school rides!
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