Restraint collapse defined
After school restraint collapse is a term coined by Andrea Loewen Nair. At CalmFamily we recognise it is applicable in many scenarios, so we drop the ‘after school’.
It takes a lot of energy, emotional suppression, and physical restraint to behave in the expected way all day whilst at school. This is often motivated by fear at what happens if children don’t perform in the expected way.
By the time they are returned to their parents and their home they have no capacity left for coping. They have a whole day of disregulation, suppression of feelings, and lack of autonomy inside them to let out.
The ‘letting it out’, the ‘bad behaviour’ and inability to cope with aspects of normal life that parents see is what is termed “restraint collapse”.
What restraint collapse can look like:
Restraint collapse can look like a lot of things. It can look like anger, sadness, or picking fights. It often results in children refusing, or claiming they ‘can’t’ do things that are usually simple for them.
In adults it often results in being snappy, irritable, shouting, or ‘losing it’ at relatively small provocation.
When might you see restraint collapse?
What does restraint collapse show?
At its core, restraint collapse means that your child has unmet needs. These can be:
If a child is exhibiting restraint collapse around you then it means that you are their safe space. They feel able to express their feelings around you. This is a good thing. You may be the only person/people who they feel safe to let these feelings out around.
Sometimes this safe place will extend to non resident parents, and grandparents to some extent, and sometimes it won’t.