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The Power Of the After School Snacks

September is a transition month. Schedules are changing, expectations are changing, even the weather is changing.

For many kids, transitions are a mood triggers. More melt downs, more “crazy” behaviour, or perhaps more exhaustion, apathy, and withdrawal.

Different kids, different moods. But often similar underlying issues we can try to relieve once we become conscious of them.

The after school snack can do wonders to support your child through the transition from school to home.  A predictable snack routine helps in two ways:

1. A hungry child is a stressed, moody child

I’m sure you’ve seen this, right? To paraphrase Barbara Coloroso, a child acts out for one of 3 reasons – hunger, fatigue, or frustration.

So let’s talk about hunger. In mid afternoon blood sugar is dropping. Your child may or may not have eaten a good lunch, they’ve been busy learning, thinking and playing. When blood sugar drops, adrenaline is released from the adrenal glands (if food is not available) to bring blood sugar levels back up. What does this look like? I think you’ve seen this.

Stabilizing hormones by stabilizing bloods sugar is one of the cornerstones of stabilizing mood. It’s the very first step to take.

The best type of snack to offer after school is one that combines protein, healthy fat, complex carbohydrate, and fibre. The carbohydrate will provide some energy, adding the fibre, protein and fat will even the keel until dinner is ready.

Here’s a great after school smoothie taken from my Breakfast Smoothie Blueprint that brings it all together:

  • 1 c chopped greens (spinach, kale, chard, romaine lettuce)
  • 1 ripe pear
  • 1/2 c frozen mango
  • 1 c water or coconut water
  • 3 tblsp hemp seeds (hemp hearts)
  • 1 scoop greek yogurt
  • 1 medjool date (remove the pit -you could also add 1/2 tsp of date sugar)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 tblsp ripe avocado
  • (1 or 2 fresh strawberries are a yummy addition)

2. After school, a child can be disconnected and disoriented

The after school snack creates a time and space to reconnect with your child.

A huge “ah-ha” moment for me was when one of my colleagues who specializes in attachment parenting said, “it’s a mistake to think that the attachment between us and our kids is always on.” That changed everything for me.

Our kids have been away from us and our home all day. They’ve been immersed in a different rhythm. They’ve been beating to a different drum, responding to a different authority. It’s unreasonable to expect them to shift back into home life in the blink of an eye.

Transition.

Sit with them and eat a snack. Talk about the weather. Talk about something funny you saw that day. Reconnect. Regroup. Switch that attachment back on. This is a powerful tool to ease the stress of transitions and stabilize mood.

Of course sharing the after school snack is not always going to be possible. But it is a great tool to use when you can.

Transitions are stressful for most kids until they learn how to move through them. Stress can trigger mood changes. Make some room for the transition back into the home with a nutrient dense well balanced snack to stabilize blood sugar and see how it changes your child’s mood and behaviour for the rest of the evening.

If you’re interested in more advice for easing the stress of transitions, you can take a look at this blog post.

What is after school time like in your family?  What are your strategies? Let us know in the comments below

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