Summer is here, and kids, teenagers, and college students across the States are rejoicing over their much-needed break from school. Many of them have exciting plans for the summer, whether it’s traveling on a fun vacation or simply heading to the local swimming pool as frequently as possible. While this break from school is important for their emotional and psychological health, it can unfortunately also lead to some unexpected challenges. As your online children’s therapist, I am here to help you ward off and overcome these challenges.
Is Too Much Free Time A Bad Thing?
After months of early mornings and rigid schedules, most young people are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to sleep in late, hang out with friends, and enjoy all the freedom that a relaxed schedule has to offer. Unfortunately, this little structure can sometimes be a bad thing; many parents find that their kids become unruly, obstinate, and generally troublesome during the summer months. Siblings bicker, children talk back to their parents, and your previously well-behaved kids may be out looking for trouble in ways you’ve never seen before.
What causes this outbreak in poor behavior? Many child behavior experts agree that children thrive best in structured environments; when summer comes and their routine is completely changed (or, in some cases, banished altogether), they may become restless. If left unchecked, this restlessness may translate into poor behavior.
How Can You Prevent Your Children From Falling Into This Pattern?
Since we know that less routine can lead to disruptive or unruly children, the obvious solution is to provide your children with the structure they need during the summer. Since you can’t rely on school to create this structure for them, the responsibility will fall to you as the parent. Here are a few ideas for simple, easy routines your children can maintain this summer.
What are your children’s passions? Joining a summer sports league or team is a great way to get your kids out of the house and involved in something they can be excited about. Soccer, swimming, and gymnastics are common choices. Giving them an opportunity to get out and get active can also help wear them out during the day, so they’ll be more likely to cooperate when bedtime comes.
2. Summer Reading Programs
Many libraries offer summer reading programs for children of varying ages. While reading is often the primary focus of these programs, some of them go above and beyond by also organizing children’s shows and other special events for kids to participate in during the program. In addition to providing your kids with something to do, these types of programs are wonderfully educational for your kids.
Household tasks and chores probably aren’t high on your children’s list of dream activities this summer, but they are still important. Being in charge of completing certain chores on a daily or weekly basis teaches your kids instills a sense of responsibility in your children and teaches them the importance of being reliable. Once they learn how to do their jobs well, it will also make your life easier by allowing you to delegate some of the household tasks.
4. Summer Job
If you have a teenager in the house, summer is the perfect time for them to get temporary employment somewhere close to home. In addition to giving your teen the structure he/she needs, summer jobs provide important workplace experience and valuable resume-building opportunities. Don’t worry about trying to get them to find a job in their future career field just yet – simply let them find one that sounds like fun and go with that.
Does Your Child Need Therapy?
Adults aren’t the only ones who can benefit from therapy; some children benefit significantly from therapy sessions with a counselor they trust. Consider setting up a visit with an online children’s counselor if your child is displaying any of these warning signs:
- Poor grades (including performance below potential or being in need of additional support)
- Behavioral problems
- ADD / ADHD
- Attention-seeking behavior