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kids on summer break

Tips for Having a Successful Summer Break

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Erica Chavie, MS, School-Based Therapist/Mental Health Practitioner 

The transition from school to summer break can be a stressful period. Even though school’s out and kids are excited for a break, a sense of routine can be easily lost and the aftermath might be less than ideal. Parents and caregivers may see a shift in behavior and need some guidance for maintaining some structure while the kids have fun, too. Continue reading to find out how to have a successful summer break with tips from Erica Chavie, a School-Based Therapist at Nystrom & Associates.  

Keep a Routine 

All kids do better with structure and routine. However, those with mental health issues including anxiety, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and autism spectrum disorders are especially dependent on a routine. Without the predictable organization that school provides, they are more prone to oppositional behavior and tantrums. Create a schedule to maintain a sense of structure.

  • Make it visual: try creating a posted schedule that will outline what will happen throughout the day. Further, your kids can help you in creating and designing their visual daily schedule. 
  • Make plans: try to schedule as many activities as possible, as early as possible. In addition, keep your kids posted on any updates. 

Related: How Routines Benefit Your Mental Health

Get Outdoors 

Physical activity is good for everyone’s minds and bodies and will keep your kids from spending their summer in front of a screen. Find something your kids enjoy doing outside, such as riding a bike, hiking/walking, or swimming. Similarly, you could spend a night or weekend camping in the backyard. 

Related: How Physical Health Affects Mental Health

Maintain or Create a Behavioral System 

Kids feel safer when they know what is expected of them, especially during summer break when they feel they have fewer boundaries than normal. Here are a couple of tips to help:  

  • Choose two or three most desired positive behaviors. After that, encourage those behaviors with consistent and positive reinforcement. 
  • Ignore negative behaviors – this will reinforce the idea that acting out will get them nothing, not even negative attention. 

Take Care of Yourself 

Parents of kids dealing with developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems can often feel isolated, lonely, and burnt out. Remember to care for yourself over summer break too! A few ideas include to:

  • Get a babysitter or have family watch the kids for a night and enjoy kid-free time with your spouse or friends. 
  • Schedule play dates with friends who have kids so both you and your kids can spend time with friends. 
  • Be sure you are getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, getting regular exercise, and spending some time without kids. As a result, you will feel refreshed and ready to tackle the summer festitivities. 

Give Your Kids and Yourself Time to Adjust 

Even with preparation and planning, you may see regression and worsening behavior from your kids when summer break starts. Give yourself a break for not being able to magically avoid this transition period. Be ready to hold your ground in a calm, firm, and consistent manner – negatively reacting (yelling, becoming physical) will only escalate things. 

Related: A Growth Mindset Vs. a Fixed Mindset

Ideas for Summer Fun 

  • “Visit” the zoo – many zoos provide virtual tours and online experiences if you don’t have the opportunity to go in person, including the San Diego Zoo, Atlanta Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo, and more! Many aquariums also offer virtual tours. 
  • Have a neighborhood scavenger hunt. 
  • Let your kids teach you something. 
  • Learn something together (baking/cooking, arts and crafts, etc.) 
  • Start a garden together. 
  • Create your own family summer bucket list including things to do at home, things to make, and places to visit. 

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

We know the transition from school to summer break can be difficult. If you need some extra help doing so, it is perfectly normal. Every day our Counseling/Psychotherapy program helps individuals and families address their personal challenges. Reach out to our coordinators to make an appointment at one of our 30+ convenient clinic locations

Related: Mental Health Awareness

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