When school’s out and summer’s here, keeping your kids on track will mean fun for the whole family; here’s how:
Kids with Mental Health Challenges are dependent on the predictability of routine and structure – something that is opposite to the school’s out summertime break. As much as is possible, stick to the same schedule as throughout the school year, including the same time for meals and bedtimes. As writer Beth Arky points out, some kids may need help with understanding this new summer schedule because there is less structure than being in school and may need a visual reminder. In such cases, you can post a daily schedule on the fridge so they always know what’s expected.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
Make plans for activities as early as possible and then keep your child posted as to what they can expect. Many kids with bipolar disorder don’t do well with surprise adventures, but if they know that they will be going swimming every day at 3 p.m., they can prepare in their mind for these outings. This also means preparing to keep the same home routines when traveling on vacation.
Get out in nature
An important aid in mental wellbeing for children with energy to burn, is being outdoors, especially when this also involves being active i.e. long walks, swimming, hikes, playing soccer, exploring in nature. Children often get too comfortable in the confines of their home and believe their home is a “safe cocoon,” especially for those who have trouble with social interactions. However, it’s imperative to get away from the screen and out into fresh air and to exercise.
Go easy on yourself
You’ve prepared for the summer break for months, made plans for activities, adventures, and then you see some worsening of behavior or regression in your child. Don’t be hard on yourself for not being able to avoid this—it’s not your fault. Remain calm, firm and consistent and try as best as you can to maintain a sense of fun.
You need fun too!
Parents of kids with developmental, emotional, or behavioral problems often feel isolated and lonely, says Arky. “It can be difficult watching all the other neighbourhood children set off for a camp yours can’t attend.” Don’t forget you’ve been looking forward to summer all year too. You definitely deserve some fun, so book a sitter and get together with friends or just for a summer picnic with your spouse – it’s critical for your wellbeing and ultimately to help better care for your child.