It seems as if the school year takes forever to end and then we parents are looking at what we have in mind to keep kids and teens occupied over the summer. What is especially important is that we realize that some of this short time off for kids is used to relax, wind down and re-energize.
The stress of schedules, academics, after school activities, work and social issues can take its toll and kids need some “veg” time. Actually we all do.
As you begin to sort out what is beneficial in the way of camps, give some thought to helping kids make the most of summer freedom, says Dr. Frances Mills-Yerger of Workshops for Youth and Families, a Scottsdale nonprofit that has been helping children and teens develop the social and leadership skills they need to navigate their way through difficult situations for the past 35 years.
Your summer plans for your kids are probably already in place. Your kids may be scheduled to participate in recreational activities sponsored by your school or community center, you may have them enrolled in day camp programs or educational activities, or you may be sending the kids away for camp or academic programs.
It just might be a good idea to take a few more steps to help prepare your children for their experiences. Summer usually means more freedom for kids and usually less adult supervision than that encountered during the school year.
It also sometimes means a lot less contact with you, so you need to make sure that your voice and support have been provided to make your child’s experience fun, rewarding, safe, and healthy.
For parents to prepare kids for these new experiences take the time to discuss and set boundaries on the following:
- How you expect your kids to relate to others and to the authorities at the camp.
- Think of any emotional or social challenges that your children are likely to experience, including homesickness, and help them determine how to cope.
- What safety measures and the rules that you expect your kids to follow.
- If there is a problem or concern in a new setting who is the staff member who can guide them through a rough patch.
- Forming relationships can be a problem for some kids and they may experience mild, moderate, or severe forms of rejection regarding peer problems and teasing. Help your child recognize the difference and when to get help.
- Many counselors are well trained, but many receive limited training and supervision. Help your kids be ready to be as cooperative as possible, but make sure they report inappropriate actions.
Summer programs can be opportunities for kids to establish new friends and increase their social skills.
Encourage your kids to spend some time in new experiences that offer them fun activities as well as personal growth.