February 23, 2018

Parent Corner: Transition to Summer


By Tanya Gesek, Ph.D.

I remember the last few weeks of school as a child. So excited to finish the year, and get on with vacation. Most assume that kids look forward to summer vacation and the carefree nature of nothing to do. So why is your kid freaking out? Why is your kid all of a sudden showing behaviors that make you want to rip your hair out?? Why are you enduring meltdown after meltdown?

Not all kids look forward to summer. Sure, on the surface they may talk about being ready to be done with school. That is what they hear other kids say right? But subconsciously, they are not looking forward to the impending change. In fact, the meltdowns have already been happening likely because the change has already happened. The structure is gone. That went out the window once the first Disney movie was shown during social studies time.

Whether they tell you or not, kids like structure. Heck, most kids don’t even realize they like it. You know your kid does if the meltdowns increase once the structure starts to go away. School is largely a predictable place, with a routine, rules, and expectations that leaves little to guessing. Kids like this. They don’t have to wonder what to do or what comes next. That structure tends to slack a little towards the end of the year and during the summer. Kids are not as clear about what behavior comes when and a lack of structure can be unsettling to kids. When kids feel unsettled, anxiety increases, and behaviors follow suit.

So make home like school? Hardly possible. But structure is the key. No one says you shouldn’t schedule down time. Kids need to learn to handle free time anyway. But even if they don’t ask for it (and they won’t), schedule some reading time, give them a journaling time. Schedule times to do chores and run errands. Schedule fun!! Many of your kids will also need a continued bedtime, wake up routine. As long as they know what to expect and what comes next, children will thrive!!