As predictably as the sun rises each morning, when mid-October rolls around, my office is inundated with panic stricken mothers. Their worry? Their kindergartners have turned into monsters.
As predictably as the sun rises each morning, when mid-October rolls around, my office is inundated with panic stricken mothers. Their worry? Their kindergartners have turned into monsters.The previously sweet, compliant children have turned sour, temperamental and belligerent. Many mothers tearfully admit that they are worried that something as traumatic as bullying or abuse has occurred and wonder if they should pull their child from the classroom. So dramatic is the change in their sweet angel’s personality that many parents feel like the tumultuous teen years have arrived ten years early.
This phenomenon is not unique to my pediatric practice; my colleagues in Boston and Tennessee report the same thing. So, what is going on? Are kindergarten teachers pushing kids too hard, making them anxious and overwrought? No. The answer is much simpler: kindergartners aren’t getting enough sleep. This is a universal problem and makes teachers, parents and the kids themselves a bit nutty.
Here’s what happens. With great anticipation and excitement, the child goes off to kindergarten. When she gets to school, she listens for long periods of time, refrains from yelling, sits quietly in circle time and keeps her place in line when she is lead to the cafeteria for lunch. Then, she gets off of the school bus, walks into the familiar kitchen and her internal release valve bursts open. She can relax from being good and let her frustrations rip.