From: No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation
School’s out and your little ones are either away, at home, or participating in summer school. Whichever your choice, No Kidding With Our Kids Foundation (NKWOKF) is here to guide you with making the most of the summer while our teachers get their well-deserved vacation.
We made it! It has been a tough year but congrats to both you and your child for completing pandemic learning. It may not have been easy for you, but I guarantee it wasn’t easy for our children either.
The massive displacement from school – not to mention mounting evidence that kids and their parents are increasingly experiencing depression, anxiety and trauma during the pandemic – is what has experts comparing the children of the pandemic to kids who’ve survived natural disasters like Hurricane Irma.
Summertime is the perfect opportunity for parents to alleviate some pressure from their kids with aims of improving their mental health for the new school year. After the initial summer excitement has worn off, we may notice our children are complaining, agitated, bored and even anxious and depressed. So what can we do to help our kids stay mentally healthy over the summer?
Set a schedule
During the summer, it’s tempting to let your child stay up late, sleep in, and have unstructured playtime all day, but kids are generally more comfortable when they stick to a familiar routine. Establish consistent meal times, chore times, and most importantly bedtime, so your child gets enough sleep. Additionally, consider enrolling them in a summer program to give them more structure.
Get them outside
Some kids seem content just staying at home all day. However, research shows that exercise and being outside can help reduce stress and improve mood. Even if your child would rather be watching TV or playing video games, try to find an outdoor activity that they’re interested in – like riding a bike or playing catch – and set aside time for it regularly.
School often provides an important community for children, so during summer break, your child may start to feel lonely. Make sure they have opportunities to see their friends, and help them explore new venues around the island as well. Also, plan plenty of family activities! Summer is one of the best times for quality parent-child bonding.
Maintain – or create – a behavioral system
You should choose the two or three most desired positive behaviors to nurture with consistent and positive reinforcement, and try to ignore as many of the negative ones as possible. This teaches kids the definite rewards of desired behavior, and that acting out gets them nothing – not even negative attention.
A chart with stickers for tasks accomplished can work wonders as positive reinforcement for children. And, remember, if you have limits, such as 30 minutes a day of earned computer/tablet time, you should stick to them. Behavioral reinforcement helps to keep the mind stimulated while on vacation.
As always, communication is key. Keep an open dialogue with your children about the importance of staying active, engaged, and healthy – mentally, physically, and intellectually – during the summer months.