One of the features of this blog is talking about ways to navigate life transitions. Throughout the lifespan, there are many moments where life seems to whirl past and you are left feeling unsure about where to go or who you can turn to. The same is true for kids. Today, let’s explore the ways that summer can be a stressful time for kids even with all of the fun going around. Summer in New Orleans can be a great time for kids, but the stifling heat can also cause problems. In between getting snowballs and going to the Cool Zoo, kids can spend long stretches of time without a routine. When kids have a hard time predicting what their day or week will look like, sometimes worry and anxiety can start to creep in, or some challenging behaviors can present themselves. Let’s discover ideas you can try to support your child during this fun and challenging season.
Kids crave structure.
Even though kids often complain about their day-to-day life during the school year, the consistency of their routine is often comforting. This helps kids to predict what is likely to happen next and anticipate what is expected of them. During the summer, some kids have structure from summer camps, but also have changes to their daily routine through later bed times, increased screen time, and a lack of organized activities. For those kids who do not go to summer camp, parents often feel at a loss for ways to add in meaningful activities without feeling as if they are “ruining the summer” for their child.
During parent consultations for play therapy, I am often asked for tips on how to help kids maintain the progress made during the school year. Parents often seem strained and exhausted from the weight of trying to balance letting “kids be kids” and incorporating routine and structure into the day.
Here are a few ideas on how to add in structure into your child’s summer.
- Work with your child to create a schedule of fun activities, chores, and time for free play each week.
- Schedule chores right before fun activities so that your child is motivated to get tasks done.
- Keep the schedule loose and flexible.
By sitting down with your child to talk about what they can expect for the week and what your expectations for them will be, everyone can buy in to the routine. Include all of the activities that will provide both fun and enrichment to your child’s day. Here are some ideas.
- screen time with age appropriate limits
- creative tasks like coloring, slime, or painting
- physical activities like jumping on a trampoline, playing ball, or running through a sprinkler
- Family activities such as board game night
- Free play time (let’s get bored and have some fun!)
- One-on-one time with each parent
- Age appropriate family contributions (chores)
- Educational tasks such as reading for 30 minutes per day or working on a math workbook
- Any scheduled outings for the week (day trips, the zoo or aquarium, snow balls, the park)
- A calming, tech free night time routine
- Anything else you and your child want to add in!
Once you have your routine for the week, post it on the fridge or somewhere that the whole family (especially your child!) can see it. When you and your child take time to make a rough draft of what the week will look like, the pressure is off of you to be constantly trying to think of something new and exciting for your child’s entertainment. If you notice your child is still experiencing difficulty with transitioning through seasons, consider reaching out to Megan to discuss options for play therapy to help your child process difficult feelings about uncertainty and change.