Not all children find the transition from school to summer holidays a smooth and “delightful” experience. For many children that struggle with excessive worry, fear or anxiety, ANY transition from a known, regular routine can be scary and overwhelming despite the fact summer is supposedly a time for fun, rest, relaxation, calm and peace.
It is super important as parents to recognize when our children are overwhelmed by a change in their schedule. It’s hard for a parent to understand that this type of “good” transition may cause stress in our children. Recognizing the subtle changes in their behaviour becomes one of the keys in figuring out how to support a child that has these feelings. Children may exhibit the following behaviours that could indicate your child may be struggling with school to summer transition.:
- changes in eating – not eating, eating more
- headaches or upset stomachs
- bouts of inexplicable crying
- tantrums or anger over the littlest things
- changes in sleep patterns or sleep routines, nightmares
- disinterest in things that normally interest them
- becoming quieter when they are typically a bubbly person
When I ask the children I work with why they are worried about this transition, this is what they have shared with me:
- they are worried about losing friendships over the summer and how sad they feel about not seeing their friends and afraid their school friends will forget them
- they have expressed that they are worried about the new school year and how their new teacher will be
- they are worried about their summer schedules and trying new extra curricular activities or camp experiences
- they have told me that when they worry their parents get more worried and that parent’s worry makes them worry more
Here are some easy tips to help you and your kiddos transition from the school year schedule to the summer schedule:
- As parents, keep your worries and fears about this transition under tight wraps – what affects you, affects them and vice versa
- Maintain as much of a school routine as possible the first couple of weeks off school – waking and bed time rituals, meal times, organized activities. Be sure you disclose this routine to your children to alleviate the “unknowns” and keep them in the “know”
- Keep the school friendships going after school finishes either in the way of setting up pen pals or play dates
- Ensure you child has a “posse of peeps” outside of the school yard – neighbourhood friends or friends from your child’s extra curricular activities
- Make sure you, as the parent, takes some time off to spend with your children. Summer memories are often the most vivid and most remembered in adulthood.
- Include your kids in the summer planning to make them feel included and important – meals, vacation/staycation ideas, creating the summer schedule
- And finally, always ask your child if they have ideas on how to make the transition time easier on them. You’d be surprised how many parents don’t ask how they can best support their children when they are exhibiting behaviours indicative of “struggling” with transition. You’d also be surprised at how many kids can articulate what they need prior to outbursts due to stress
Remember to have fun, keep cool, stay hydrated and relish in the moments you get to spend with your Kids. Happy Summer!!!