Summer Awaits! How to use the summer to help your kids return to normal.

Summer is so close I can taste it, and it tastes like ice cream. This year has literally been one for the history books. Now that the numbers of COVID-19 cases are reducing, families are awaking from their COVID hibernations. Several parents have expressed to me all of the concerns they have about what their children have struggled with or missed over the past year…increased anxiety, sports and social clubs, swim lessons, school work, and family celebrations. How do we help our kids to return to normal?

Step 1: Screen Detox Your Children

Many of us have fallen into bad habits of allowing too much screen time for our children during the pandemic but now it is time to re-establish limits of appropriate screen time during the day and at night. I promise, this process will be difficult at first. It is important to make sure all family members are on the same page with the rules regarding screen time, otherwise your children will find the loopholes either by asking the other parent or convincing you from their words or behaviors to give in.
Break up screen time throughout the day or allow your children to earn more screen time after completing their chores. Establishing limits may involve taking iPads and video game controllers or turning off the internet. Your children will whine, cry, complain, tantrum, call you “mean” or pull out the big guns and call you “the worst parent ever”. Hold strong! All of these behaviors reiterate the need to separate from screens which has a major impact on a child’s brain development, ability to delay instant gratification, social skills, and sleep patterns. Sometimes, it is ok to have exceptions to the rules but hold on to them for the truly needed times such as that eight hour drive to a relative’s house.

Step 2: Set Academics Aside

Try not to focus too much on your children’s academics past 15-30 minutes a day of reading. School work will be waiting for them in September and every student will be entering the school at a different point academically. It’s estimated that most students will be roughly a quarter grade behind where they would have performed because of the pandemic. Teachers will have to figure out how to differentiate instructional levels to accommodate those who have struggled completing coursework online this year. Standardized testing will be renormed to account for these drops in achievement levels seen across the country. Try to focus this summer more on returning to normal and refilling your child’s emotional cup which has been drained throughout the school year so they are ready to meet the school year in September refreshed and feeling back to normal.

Step 3: Give Kids Much Needed Activities

Consider filling your child’s summer with camps, days at the pool or beach, hikes in the woods or exploring nature perseveres with the appropriate health and safety precautions, of course. Children need to experience a sense of adventure and wonder outside of their house. It is important to keep balance in mind, as it is easy to fall into the trap of wanting to overschedule every minute of the summer to make up for missed time they experienced throughout the school year. Even as adults, I hear people frequently mention that it feels weird to be seen without a mask or engaging socially with others outside of their bubble. If adults with decades more experience with social situations are struggling, then chances are, so are our kids. As a parent, you are most likely going to be met with sighs and groans from children who don’t want to leave the comfort of their home or their video games and I-pads. I like to rephrase my outings and call them an adventure, quest, or mission. Give your children something to talk about when they return to school and have to write their first journal article about what I did for the summer.

What Else Needs To Be Done?

Who knows? Maybe a side effect of having your kids feel back to normal, may in fact have you feeling back to normal or even better than normal.

If you or your child are struggling with getting back to normal, you are not alone. Sometime the best attempts at solving these issues alone can be frustrating and gain little ground.

If you would like help reaching your ideal “normal” a little sooner or a little more completely, we are happy to offer the help and guidance that individual or family therapy can provide.

Reach out today and lets talk about it.