School is out for summer so why does your child feel stressed?
For today’s families the freedom that comes with the end of school comes with a new set of stressors. School provides structure, social interaction, and support for children and families. Having those day to day interactions with peers provides a release valve where kids and teens can vent frustrations and engage in good old-fashioned silliness. Parents have the added benefit of teachers and counselors who can provide structure and feedback on their child’s development.
Over summer break children who are too old for daycare can be stuck at home. With both parents working and unable to provide transportation many children rely on social media for their peer interaction which is a double-edged sword at best. Parents can provide direction, but that only goes so far during an 8-10-hour day. This is why after the initial summer excitement has worn off, we may notice our children are grouchy, restless, bored or even anxious and depressed.
So, what can you do to help have a stress-free summer?
Don’t be afraid to let your child be bored. Not every hour of every day must be structured. Generally, you want to have a balance between structured and unstructured activities. Necessity is the father of invention and bored children and teens can invent creative ways to keep themselves busy.
Children and teens need chores. It provides them the sense of purpose, even if they don’t appreciate it. Some children do better when they are supervised, and if your child is one of them it is perfectly okay to have things they need to accomplish after you get home. Sometimes having them help you with an activity can mix the need for structure with some quality family time. Making meals together, gardening, cleaning the house, as well as folding and sorting laundry are all activities that can be done together.
Create a bucket list that has activities and plans listed. This way you don’t have to be attached to a calendar but will have them at the ready when family time presents itself or you have a rainy day.
Put a “Before Screen Time” list up to help encourage learning activities while you are gone. You can click the link for a free printable you can use today.
Summer camps exist for older kids. Many provide STEM learning, community service, and skill building opportunities. They also provide structure and an opportunity for socialization during the day. Spread a couple of camps out throughout the summer to give them something to look forward to on the dull days.
Kids too old for camps can volunteer or even be paid as camp aids. Kids as young as 12 can be volunteers for camps like Safety Town. Camps for kids with special needs are frequently looking for peers to help with summer activities. Community organizations like churches, Scouts, and senior centers all are looking for someone to help with summer actives, and some even can help with organizing a carpool for their volunteers.
Summer sports are a great time to diversify your child’s skills. Have they thought about soccer but don’t want to commit to an entire season? Are they interested in football, but aren’t sure they would make the cut? A summer sports camp may be just what they need to find their new passion.
Having a loose structure which includes individual and group time, peer and family time, and structured and unstructured time creates balance. With a little planning and some gentle nudging children and adults alike can find their balance and can enjoy a happy mood and positive mental health throughout the whole summer.