Kids and Summer:
A Season For Parent/Child Relationships To Bloom
By Bette J. Freedson, LICSW, LCSW, CGP
“No more classrooms, no more
books--No more teachers dirty looks!” Remember that ditty
from childhood summers? Kids love summer. It’s a time of
intense play, fun hanging out with friends, or experience
working at the first real job.
And-- parents? Summer is supposed to be the season when “ livin’ is easy,” but for parents juggling job and home while keeping an eye—or two--on the kids, summer can be stressful. But, parents take heart. With some all--purpose parenting tips, and some useful summer strategies, you can make the season a time for kids to blossom and for connections with you to bloom.
Ten All-Purpose Productive Parenting Tips:
Parenting is affected by a variety of factors, such as the child’s developmental stage, family finances, geographic location, structure of the family unit, health of family members, outside support networks, and seasonal requirements. Basics of productive parenting can build a foundation for summer strategies that will fertilize your child’s development, and enhance your relationships with them throughout the year.
- Attend to
your child’s interests
Children’s self esteem flourishes with parental attention. When you demonstrate your interest in a child’s activities and preferences, you demonstrate caring more clearly than words can convey.
consistency with routines, limits and
Children function best with as much predictability and consistency as possible for routines, limits and expectations. This includes your consistent reactions and responses, and a reasonable amount of structure in daily life.
- Back up
Kids may resist, but will respect you when you show that you mean what you say, and will do what you say. Keep consequences meaningful and simple. Make promises you intend to keep re: the consequences for children’s choices, positive or negative.
with a no-shaming policy.
Simple, Firm, and non-shaming consequences for poor behavior choices work best for eliciting the behaviors you want to improve. Shame destroys self-confidence. It is like putting weed-killer on the child’s sense of Self.
enjoyable time with your kids.
Introduce your kids to activities you enjoy; and participate in what is meaningful to them. We can learn from our kids, as they learn from us. Time spent in enjoyment is money in the parenting bank. It will pay off when you need to draw on the “account” for action and compliance.
enrichment into your children’s
Children benefit from relationships with a variety of people. Where possible, foster connections with friends and other family members. Encourage your child to enjoy learning experiences with others. This will help develop your child’s social skills and her ability to make interpersonal connections with you and with others.
- Maintain a
positive mind-set regarding your
Children have inner radar that can pick up negative attitudes. Keep in mind your child’s good points, and foster strengths, rather than putting down weaknesses. Resilience in coping will be a by-product of your positive regard for your kids. Keep a balanced view, even when the kids act up, or out. You may get frustrated, but you can return to your positive mind-set.
communication to foster resilience.
Communication is on every healthy parenting list. Adults may see subtle meanings in words or events, while kids can be very concrete or may misinterpret situations. Help your child understand events in his life, and the world around him, at the level he can understand. Communication about life enhances kids’ adaptation skills, and builds resilience that will pay dividends as they mature.
clues that your child may be struggling with a
Your child may not tell you if something is wrong, but will more likely show the difficulty in behavior choices. Remain alert to any changes in actions, or mood, that might indicate a problem. Helping children to problem solve will add to their growing resilience and ability to think things through in more independent ways.
stress relief for yourself, and practice good-self
If you do not recharge your own batteries, you will have difficulty employing tips and strategies. You may even become vulnerable to burn out. A depleted Mom or Dad will be less able to be a productive parent.
Applying all-purpose tips to summer opens opportunity for expanding connections with your kids, promoting their social skills, and giving a booster shot to their resilience and self-esteem.
Six Summer Strategies
As Easy AS ONE, TWO, THREE
Try these six summer strategies and see what happens.
ONE: Plan—And have back up
Summer planning establishes new routines. Plans depend on geographic location, finances, and support networks. Types of summer activities can be found on line, in town halls and by word of mouth. Take your child’s interests and ages into consideration. Back up planning helps increase consistency, a key growth factor for healthy development.
TWO: Create balance between freedom and structure.
Both kids and parents enjoy the less pressured aspects of summer. Talk to children about preferences, theirs and yours. As parent you have the right to make decisions about the balance of freedom and structure. You can build in flexibility within structure. For example, you can plan hangout days with no specifics. It is okay to say “yes,” or “no” to certain freedom requests depending on your scheduling needs or children’s safety concerns.
THREE: Make a summer schedule and facilitate adaptation to changes.
Thoughtful scheduling provides consistency for kids and makes life easier for parents. But changes happen. A rainy day will cancel beach plans; a friend may go on vacation when your child expected a play date. Resilience gets a boost when kids learn to go with the flow. Help your child to adapt when summer expectations change.
FOUR: Join your kids.
The school year is busy and intense. Summer’s slower pace offers opportunities to enter your children’s world and see what makes them tick. Try planning free time or vacation time around family time. You will reap benefits in positive connections with the kids.
FIVE: Provide support for transitions.
Summer is transition time for kids. They may be going to a new grade, new school, or new situation. Talking to them about what is coming-- and where they are going--helps them prepare mentally and emotionally for the next step. This type of support will add tools to their repertoire of coping skills.
SIX; Have fun!
When the kids know you are having fun with them, they feel good about you and about themselves. The precious time they spend with you growing up flies by in a blink of an eye. Summer pleasures can create sweet nectar for your children’ self esteem, and put “miracle-grow” on their respect and connection with you.
Summer strategies can be summed up with this “mantra:” Join them and enjoy them!