*Previously published in the July issue of Neighbors of Chapel Hill
For some children, transitions are difficult and if transitions are difficult, the thought of the transition from school to summer vacation may be a nightmare. Below are five strategies that can help you make this transition less stressful for your children and yourselves.
Children of all ages and stages thrive on consistency and routine. During the school year, this consistency helps ground your child, letting them know what is coming next and helping them feel safe and secure. When summer arrives, many families take a break from structured activities and routines become more relaxed. While some children can manage flexibility well, others really struggle to feel comfortable when faced with drastic changes in their routines. Sticking to regular meal and bedtimes can really help make summer vacation more enjoyable and ease the transition back to school in the fall.
KNOW YOUR CHILD’S STRENGTHS AND WORK WITH THEIR INTERESTS
Planning activities that fit with your child’s interests and strengths will help ease any challenges that come from starting something new. Whether your child is spending the summer at a camp or at home with you, scheduling fun things to do and getting outdoors regularly can help in so many ways. If your child is spending time at a camp this summer, considering whether factors such as size of groups and type of activities fit with your child’s strengths and interests can make all the difference when it comes time to get ready to go each day.
CONSIDER YOUR CHILD’S UNIQUE ANXIETIES AND WORRIES
Trying new activities, learning new skills and making new friends is exciting for some and anxiety-provoking for others. Involve your child in planning the types of activities they will partake in this summer and talk with them about any fears or worries they may have. Help them reframe their worries in ways that balance their thoughts and help them problem solve any concerns they have about what might happen.
GIVE YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN TIME TO ADJUST
Many of us thrive on routine and consistency and any change in this can be difficult. If your child has a really difficult time with transition, work with them to create a plan in the early weeks that you can all feel good about and consider taking it easy in the early days so there is more time for providing safety, comfort and support.
PREPARE FOR CHALLENGING TIMES
When you know that transitions are hard, you can anticipate and plan for challenges before they happen. Prepare yourself by problem solving ahead of time and try your best to keep yourself well rested, hydrated and fed so that your energy levels are enough to handle whatever may come. If you are travelling, prepare activities to manage boredom and keep enough snacks on hand to fill hungry bellies and try not to overschedule yourself of your children. Taking adequate time for rest and rejuvenation is key to managing challenges effectively.
Reach out to friends, family, your child’s camp counsellor or a professional if you need additional support. Sometimes, when things are particularly challenging, having a supportive ear to listen or a break from the everyday grind can help ease the stress that may be contributing to the struggle. Taking a time out to recharge may be just what you need to reset and move forward.