Dealing with tired children

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As we head into the final furlong of the autumn term children are flagging. Isabel Fisher, co-founder of Little Hands Learning, has some ideas to help with tired children.

I suspect if you’re reading this you’re probably like me: before your child started school, you had visions of journeys back home from school filled with excited chatter about their day. The reality is very different! My son is rarely the convivial raconteur of my daydreams. Most of the time it feels like he’s channelling the Incredible Hulk… with a hangover.  

So, if your child can be a bit of a grump after school/nursery, as you can see, you are not alone. And it’s not really surprising either. All day our children have been following instructions, compromising with friends and their sensory systems have taken a battering. School and nursery can be full on.

So, what can you do if you have your own little Hulk? 

Give them space and time

You know how sometimes you just want to be quiet? Your child appreciates that too. I always ask my son how his day has been – if all I get is a “fine”, I leave it at that. As he relaxes from his day at school, he slowly offers up more and more nuggets of information. 

When we first get back from school, my son does exactly what he wants: colouring, television, running around the garden. Whatever will help him to start to unwind. I often find that after he’s had some time, he will want us to do something together.

All things come to those who wait.

Food is your friend

Prevent your kid’s blood sugar levels hitting rock bottom. Get a snack in them – stat! It can be a sandwich, a piece of fruit, crackers, a flapjack – keep it healthy. 

Give them control

At home we have a jar filled with lolly sticks, and on each lolly stick I have included simple after school activities that I know my son enjoys. So that when he is ready, he can choose an activity for us to do together (or separately if he prefers). 

All of these activities are open-ended; there are no rules and there is no right or wrong way to interact with them. 

A few of the activities on the sticks are: 


This doesn’t need to be complicated. Simply fill a deep tray or a basin with water and add some jars and ladles and pour water from one jar to the other. 

A walk

Fresh air can help us all feel calmer and happier. Let your child choose which direction you head in. We often return with our pockets full of various natural treasures. 


Add cinnamon, rosemary, jasmine to your playdough to give the activity an extra calming element.


There is something really soothing about someone reading to you. Let them choose the book, cuddle up on the sofa together and escape to wherever the story is set. 

Arts and craft

Doodling, colouring, painting with watercolours and cutting and sticking can all offer creative outlets to destress. Don’t give too much direction – the process is much more important than the end product.


Isabell Fisher is co-founder of Little Hands Learning, an educational and eco-friendly subscription box for children aged three and over. Every month your child will receive an exciting gift in the post containing a beautiful book and everything needed for engaging and fun activities linked to the book. 

The fun and meaningful activities are designed by teachers to focus on key areas of the National Curriculum. The curated books together with the activities help nurture healthy minds and encourage literacy skills, giving children the best start to their education.

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