As the school year wraps up and summer break begins, children and families are having mixed emotions about changing schedules and expectations. Children thrive with structure. Routine helps children with emotional or developmental issues feel secure and manage expectations. Summer vacation can be a challenging transition time for those who rely heavily on the school day routine to regulate. Consider these suggestions to make the most of your summer and plan enjoyable days for your child and family:
All children have different needs and look forward to summer break. For many children this means slowing down and taking time to rest and recharge their minds and bodies. Talk to your child about their expectations for summer break and share yours. Having a dialogue and plan will help the family manage expectations for kicking off summer break. Consider flexible thinking and a solution-based mindset to integrate your child’s expectations into your own plan for the summer when you can.
Children continue growing and changing over the summer, and it’s typical for children’s behaviors to change with their routine. Parenting in the summer, in addition to work responsibilities and life stressors, can feel tiring. It is important parents rest, too. Hiring a sitter for a few hours or asking for support from neighbors or family members can allow parents to recharge and rest or charge their social battery.
Search for local day camps and extra-curricular activities that your child expresses interest in. Is your child often seeking movement? Try a sports camp or gymnastics class. If your child is very expressive, check out an art club or music camp. Start with local resources through your public school district or park district.
Maintaining consistent bedtimes and mealtimes are important during summer break. Children who thrive on predictability are at higher risk for experiencing panic over transition periods. Creating visual schedules can help children manage expectations and transition between activities. Planning regular activities ahead of time and talking to children about plans, like going to the park or the pool, gives kids structure they can rely on. Try to pick a few activities that will be a regular part of the schedule, and then incorporate additional events around those.
Outdoor activities are important for children. Day camp is a great option that provides children with structure, social connection, and outdoor opportunities. Set limits with electronics and screen time over the summer to support your child’s emotional development and mental health. Spending time outdoors is proven to help build immunity, regulate emotions, and leads to increased mindfulness and gratitude.
Choose a few positive behaviors you want your child to work on demonstrating. Create an incentive or reward system as positive reinforcement for your child when they practice the behavior. Take time to notice how your child is responding to different interventions. Use praise and affirmation when they are making prosocial choices.
At Mobile Therapy Centers, our Counseling department offers therapeutic support to help children and families cope with transitions, relationships, life stressors, grief, anxiety, depression, ADHD, behavioral concerns, and more. To learn more about Counseling Services, please contact Mobile Therapy Centers to speak with one of our therapists. We provide FREE screenings/consultations. https://mtcus.com/services/counseling/
Mobile Therapy Centers is a Multidisciplinary Therapy Group and services include ABA Therapy for Autism, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Behavioral Therapy, Feeding Therapy and Counseling. We see children at our clinics, at your home or at your child’s school/daycare making it convenient for you and your family.