Tips from Dr. Samantha Scott Ph.D.
Well, the weather is sloooowly warming up and Summer is right around the corner. Do you have your summer plans worked out for your children? If not, here are a few quick tips to maximize your child’s summer experience while also maintaining some sort of balance and structure:
1. Don’t feel the need to fill up every ounce of your child’s time! They will be overstimulated and burnt out! Instead, build in down time each day including time for your child to play or be alone. And… this doesn’t need to be alone time to play video games or be on electronics! This should be down time to read, make something, etc…
2. In terms of electronics, there still needs to be limits on amount of time spent. And, it doesn’t necessarily need to be more time than your child is allotted during the school year. To avoid power struggles, set limits by filling your child’s day with alternative activities so there isn’t a whole lot of time for electronics. For example, time to play outside, family time, alone time/quiet time, crafts, chores (yes, chores) and even some schoolwork/educational activities. By the time your child has done all of these things, there shouldn’t be enough time left in the day to overindulge in electronics.
3. Be sure to help your child stay connected with peers over the summer. Arrange play dates or encourage your teen to have friends over to hang out.
4. Use a visual calendar so your child knows what to expect each day throughout the week. This is especially true if the schedules changes frequently and for kids who tend to be more anxiety prone. The calendar is also a nice way to give your child some control over her day. For example allowing her to pick and choose activities or at least the order of activities… “Hey tomorrow, we need to go to the grocery store, clean the play room and it will be nice outside. Would you prefer to go to the park and then get our chores done or get them done first so we have the rest of the day to play?”
5. There are a ton of great camps in the area to match a wide range of ages and interests. Balance your kids down time with a week or two of something specialized outside of the house! If your child is older, encourage them to spend some time volunteering, interning or working!
6. Sleep, sleep, sleep! Just because your child doesn’t have to get up early for school, doesn’t mean they should stay up late at night! Help your child keep a reasonable bed time and wake time; this will minimize anxiety, irritability and compliance during the day!
Last, but not least, use summer as a way to reconnect as a family. Eat dinner together, travel to some of the nearby hotspots like the beach, or take a rainy day off to watch movies and hang out together.