After-school restraint collapse is real—this is why your child gets angry with you

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We know that after-school restraint collapse is a real thing. After a long day of school, it can be hard for kids to hold it together. They may melt down or have an emotional outburst, and sometimes—especially with very young children who attend daycare or preschool—there's one particular emotion they're blasting at mom and dad: Anger.

Sometimes, the child who was happy (and happy to see us) when we fetched them from their classroom can seem downright mad at us by the time we've made it home.

For mamas who have been missing their little one all day, being pushed away can sting a bit, but according to Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R.Psych., this especially frustrating and personal form of after-school restraint collapse is totally normal and actually a sign that your child really does love you a lot.

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"I call it defensive detachment," Lapointe, the author of Discipline without Damage: How to Get Your Kids to Behave Without Messing Them Up, tells Motherly.

"It's a subconscious thing. They don't even know they're doing it but it's very real," says Dr. Lapointe.

Any parent who has been through it knows how real it feels. As Lapointe explains, it can be trying.

"They defensively detach from you by being angry at you, and shoving you away, and may call you names," she says, adding that while it's often loud, intense, and inconvenient, parents should try looking at these displays of defensive detachment as a gift. Our children don't have the words to tell us what they're thinking and feeling, but this behavior can help us figure out what they need.

According to Lapointe, parents might want to think about how they feel after temporarily losing sight of their child in a public space, like a grocery store. When a parent is reunited with their child after a separation they were not in control of, they often hug them, kiss them, hold them, but then, that relief can turn into frustration and anger.

When your child is having defensive detachment meltdowns after daycare or school, that's how they're feeling: Relieved to see you, but frustrated at having been separated and over their lack of control. Lapointe says asking a child to suppress those feelings is as pointless as trying to hold a beach ball underwater: "It's going to come back up."

Instead of suppressing a display of defensive detachment, Lapointe recommends ways parents can soften the intensity of the separation, and give kids room to be loud and intense when they need to be.

Fill up their emotional cup before the separation

Lapointe's advice to parents dealing with meltdowns in the afternoon or evening is to start your defense against defensive detachment meltdowns in the morning.

"Try and set your alarm, for maybe 15 minutes earlier every day, so that you have a bit of time to actually connect with your child and really fill up their connection cup before you send them out the door to school," she explains.

Spending this extra time together in the morning can help ease the child into the separation of the school day while feeling more strongly attached to their parent.

Let them know you are connected even when you are not together

Lapointe often recommends the children's book The Kissing Hand (about a young raccoon leaving his mother to start school in the forrest) and The Invisible String (about a mother who tells her children they are connected by an invisible string) to parents whose children are having a hard time with separations.

"They're both stories about how, even when we're not together, parent and child, we're still together through our hearts, and that you can never break that connection," says Lapointe, who recommends parents incorporate some of the lessons from these popular books into their morning routines and rituals.

A child may feel more connected if they have their own "kissing hand" or "invisible string" at school with them.

Send a piece of you with them to school

An invisible string is great, but sometimes kids need something even more tangible to remind them of mom and dad, says Lapointe, who recommends simple notes in the lunch bag, or a small picture of the family that the child can carry with them.

"I had one little boy whose parents laminated a photo of them loving on him, and then they attached it to a lanyard spritzed with his Daddy's cologne and he wore it under his shirt," Lapointe recalls. "When he needed to he could just peek under his shirt at the picture, and that's how he held them close."

Lapointe and her son had their own similar ritual with heart-shaped keychains. "And I carried the little kid heart around with me, and my son carried the mama heart around with him to school and in his backpack," she explains.

Let them let it out

Sometimes, all the quality time in the morning and all the loving reminders from home can't totally prevent a child's day away from you from being hard. If you sense a defensive detachment meltdown is coming on after pick up, Lapointe says it's best to take control of it by inviting it.

"You step in front of the meltdown by saying things like, 'You're having a really hard go today, Bud. I get that. And if you've got some shouts in you, now's the time to let em' out.' And so you kind of just will it into existence, so much so that your child actually, on a subconscious level, believes that you're in control of the meltdown."

According to Lapointe, a child who is on the edge of losing control themselves is relieved when they realize someone else is in control. By taking a proactive approach and literally asking for the meltdown to happen, parents can speak to their children while their child can still understand them. If we wait until they're freaking out to take control, we can't, says Lapointe.

"You can't be in charge of a child, or be in control of a child, who is no longer in control of themselves," she explains, adding that once they've lost control and are operating strictly from the emotional part of their brain, "they're not able to think or problem-solve. If we're gonna say things to them like, 'remember to use your words,' we just sound like foreign aliens, that doesn't make any sense in that moment."

So before your child loses the ability to hear you, let them know that you hear them. You hear that they need to release their emotions in a loud, intense and inconvenient way, and you're okay with it. Pull the car over or clear a space in the living room and just let those loud, flailing emotions come out.

"There would be no shaming, no blaming, no consequences, no punishing of any kind," Lapointe explains.

Remember that your baby really does love you, mama

Taking a page out of Lapointe's parenting playbook can reduce the impact of defensive detachment meltdowns after school, but when your child lashes out at you, it still hurts.

If you're dealing with defensive detachment meltdowns right now, remember that even if your child isn't showing it, they do love you, mama. More than they can say.

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People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

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A study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

[This post was first published December 18, 2018.]


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As parents we don't start our families thinking we will lose our partner or a child when they are still in their prime, but that is what happened to Vanessa Bryant when tragedy struck her family on Sunday. We feel incredible pain and sadness for Vanessa who is now dealing with the unimaginable at less than a year postpartum. It's impossible to conceive of the grief that Vanessa and her daughters are feeling today and our hearts are with them.

America is mourning the loss of the basketball superstar and his daughter Gianna, who was only 13 years old. The two were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California.

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Gianna, or Gigi as her family called her, brought her father back to basketball after his retirement and was showing the world that girls can be amazing athletes.

As her father explained on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Gianna's goal was to play in the WNBA and her father was sure she could make that happen. Bryant told Kimmel: "The best thing that happens is when we go out and fans will come up to me, and she'll be standing next to me. And they'll be like, 'Man, you gotta have a boy. You and V gotta have a boy, man, have somebody carry on your tradition, the legacy.' And she's like, 'Oy, I got this. You don't need no boy for that. I got this." And I'm like, 'That's right. Yes, you do. You got this.'"

Like her father, Gianna was an incredibly talented basketball player. Her basketball teammate, Alyssa Altobelli, along with her parents, Keri and Orange Coast College baseball coach John Altobelli were also killed. It's an unimaginable loss of young talent and knowledge for the basketball community, a nation and the victims' families.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant just welcomed their fourth child, baby Capri Kobe Bryant, in July 2019. "We are beyond excited that our baby girl 'Koko' has arrived!!," Kobe announced on Instagram.

The hearts of an entire nation and much of the world are with them in this terrible moment. Bryant was beloved and the news of his death and Gianna's is hitting many people incredibly hard.

If you are having trouble coping with the news today mama, remember that It is okay to turn it off. It is okay to go offline and turn your attention to your family. It's okay to talk about how hard this is hitting you and to take time to give yourself some extra care as you process this. Grief looks different for everyone and even those who never met Bryant were touched by his cultural impact and legacy.

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If you're expecting a baby this year you've got plenty of celebrity company, mama. From reality TV stars to bloggers and A-list actresses, there is a baby boom happening in celebrity circles right now.

Amy Schumer, Snooki and Christina Anstead are just a few of the celebrity moms who recently welcomed little ones and there are a ton more who are still waiting to meet their kiddos.

Here are some fellow parents-to-be expecting in 2020:

America Ferrera will be a mom of 2 in 2020 

America Ferrera and her husband Ryan Piers Williams already have one little boy, 1-year-old Sebastian, and soon he will be a big brother!

"Welcoming Baby #2 in 2020! 🥰" she captioned a family photo released early in the year.

Congratulations, mama!

Modern Family's Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be a dad in 2020! 

Moden Family may be ending but Jesse Tyler Ferguson's family is just beginning. In January the sitcom star announced he's expecting a baby with his husband, Justin Mikita.

"This is something I haven't even mentioned to anyone, if we could just keep it between the three of us and you all, but I'm actually expecting a baby in July with my husband," he said on The Late Late Show.


Laura Prepon is expecting her second child 

Actors Laura Prepon and Ben Foster share 2-year-old daughter Ella and will soon share one more little one.

Prepon announced her pregnancy on Instagram:. "We are so excited to announce that our family is growing. Life is beautiful!"

Report: Michelle Williams is engaged + pregnant 🎉

Mom of one Michelle Williams will soon be a mom of two!

News of the actress' pregnancy and engagement to Tony Award-winning director Thomas Kail was first reported by People and confirmed by E! News. The actress split from her former husband musician Phil Elverum nearly a year ago.

Williams and Kail previously worked together when Kail directed Fosse/Verdon, in which Williams starred. She won an Emmy for that performance and her powerful Emmy acceptance speech inspired working moms everywhere by acknowledging "what is possible when a woman is trusted to discern her own needs, feels safe enough to voice them, and respected enough that they'll be heard."

Williams' incredible speech ended with a shout out to her 14-year-old daughter, Matilda, who she shared with the late Heath Ledger: "Matilda, this is for you, like everything else."

Matilda was just 2 years old when she and Williams lost Ledger in 2008.

In the years since his death, Williams has protected their daughter's privacy with the same intensity she brings to her work. In addition to her Emmy win, she has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for four Academy Awards since becoming a mother.

Williams has demonstrated that motherhood is no impediment to professional success and we can't wait to see what she does as a mother of two!

Hope Solo is pregnant with twins! 🎉

Soccer superstar Hope Solo just announced she is pregnant...and expecting twins!

She broke the news during the beIN Sports show Weekend Winners, which she co-hosts.

She's having a boy and a girl and can't wait to meet her "miniature soccer team".

"Yes, my husband and I get to practice equality from the very beginning with one boy and one girl," Solo explained during the segment, which was posted to Twitter.

This is a rainbow pregnancy for Solo, who miscarried twins in 2018.

We are so happy for Hope and her husband, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens.

Can't wait to see this mini soccer team in action!

Bekah Martinez is pregnant again! 🎉

Bekah Martinez first pregnancy announcement shocked the world in September 2018 and now she's just announced she's expecting again!

The Bachelor alum and her partner Grayston Leonard are having another baby, as seen in a sonogram Bekah posted to Instagram.

"Thankful," she captioned the pic.

The baby will join older sister Ruth who was born in February.

Jenna Dewan and Steve Kazee are having a baby! 

The last two years have seen a lot of changes for Jenna Dewan. In April 2018 she and former husband Channing Tatum announced they had "lovingly chosen to separate as a couple". Later that year she was publicly linked to boyfriend Steve Kazee.

Now, another change is on the horizon for Dewan as she and Kazee are expecting their first child together. The baby will join 6-year-old Everly, who Dewan co-parents with Tatum.

"We are beyond overjoyed and couldn't be happier to be expanding our family!" Dewan and Kazee told People.

That's pretty much all the couple is saying at this point, and we can't blame them. They've confirmed the pregnancy to media outlets, but haven't shared much or made any announcements on Instagram but we can't wait to see what Dewan decides to share as she embarks on this journey.

Every pregnancy is different, so even though she's not a first-time mom, Dewan may be in for some surprises. The one thing we know for sure is that her life is about to change again, in a big way.

Congratulations to Jenna and Steve! 🎉

Eva Amurri Martino will soon be a mom of 3!

Blogger Eva Amurri Martino, aka Happily Eva After, just announced she and her sportscaster husband Kyle Martino and expecting a their third baby.

"I'm so thrilled to announce our most exciting collab yet. Head to HappilyEvaAfter.com for the full video and reveal," she wrote in an Instagram caption teasing the announcement.

On her blog she wrote: "Our family is ecstatic to share this 'collab' that has been brewing now for several months!"

Baby no. 3 will join the couple's two older children, 2-year-old Major James and 5-year-old Marlowe.

Congrats Eva!

[A version of this post was originally published October 21, 2018. It has been updated. ]

News

When infectious diseases make headlines parents naturally get a little worried, and this week coronavirus is in the news constantly. The coronavirus has infected more than 600 people worldwide, though mostly in China. As of Jan. 23, Chinese authorities have reported 17 deaths from the virus so far. Only two cases have been confirmed in the U.S. and officials are monitoring 63 suspected cases.

Here's what you need to know, mama.

1. Don't panic.

According to the World Health Organization the coronavirus outbreak is not an international public health emergency.

"CDC believes the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low at this time, but the situation is evolving rapidly," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on a conference call with media on Friday. "We have our best people working on this problem," Messonnier explained, adding that we will likely see more cases in the coming days.

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2. There have been no fatalities in children.

The youngest victim of a confirmed case of novel coronavirus is 36 years old. Most of the fatal cases in China have been in people over 60 and more men than women have been impacted.

3. The family of coronaviruses is a spectrum of severity.

According to the CDC, most people will be infected with a coronavirus at some point in their lives. The common strains of coronavirus cause "moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses, like the common cold" while more severe strains, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrom (MERS) can be fatal.

The strain that is making headlines is a severe and novel coronavirus. It's new and the similarities to influenza make it difficult for experts to distinguish it from all the other respiratory illnesses floating around this time of year.

4. There is a test for it.

When public health officials suspect someone may have coronavirus they can send respiratory and serum samples to the CDC and find out if it's coronavirus or just the flu within about 24 hours.

5. There are steps to take for prevention.

To prevent the spread of the virus the U.S. State Department has issued its most severe travel advisory for the area of China (the province of Hubei, where the city of Wuhan is) most impacted by the coronavirus.

The CDC offers the following tips for protecting your family from the coronavirus (as well as other respiratory illnesses):

  • "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds."
  • "Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands."
  • "Avoid close contact with people who are sick."
Bottom line: Don't panic, mama. The illness is likely to be in the headlines for months, but that doesn't mean we need to live in fear. We just need to be proactive and keep washing those little hands.
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