School’s going to be out soon, but summer isn’t always stress-free for young kids with learning and attention issues. Parenting Coach has tips for helping with social, emotional and behavioral challenges. Check out these strategies for common summertime trouble spots.
Problem: At the pool, your child blows up when you tell her it’s time to leave. She’s having too much fun!
What you can do: Give your child fair warning. Tell her how much time she has left to swim and get her to acknowledge what’s coming next. If your child has trouble sensing how much time has elapsed, try not to say things like “Five more minutes!” Instead, try, “I can see you’re having fun jumping into the pool. Two more cannonballs and then we’re heading home.”
Problem: Your family is going camping for the first time. But your child is scared of all the unknowns.
What you can do: Help her prepare for new activities. Read books or watch videos together about camping. And when you get to the campsite, give her the lay of the land. Point out where the restrooms, playground and parking lot are. Talk about how your days will go: “We’ll have your favorite cereal for breakfast and then walk down to the shore.” The more your child can envision a new situation, the more comfortable she may be.
Problem: Drop-off at day camp is a tearful affair. Your child gets upset when it’s time for you to leave.
What you can do: If it’s possible, ask someone else to be the chauffeur. Consider carpooling with another camper: If they drop off, you can pick up. That might make separations easier for your child. It might also be good to come up with a family slogan. Quietly saying a phrase like “I think I can, I think I can” helps some kids stay calm and power through a challenging situation.
Finding a Good Fit Activity
Problem: Your child wants to attend the drop-in Minecraft Club at the library. But you’re not sure she’ll be able to sit still or do other things needed to enjoy the experience.
What you can do: Talk to the group leaders in advance to get a better idea of how your child’s strengths and challenges will match the activity. Ask how often kids are allowed to take breaks or get up and move around as part of the activity. Help your child try new activities by offering guided choices that build on her strengths.
Problem: Your child made new friends at the town-run camp program. But playdates with them haven’t been going so smoothly.
What you can do: When new pals come to play with your child, be ready to step in and out. Help reduce friction by deciding ahead of time which fun activities both kids are likely to enjoy. Develop a social distress signal your child can use when she needs your help. And keep playdates short, at least until your child gets to know the new kids.
Problem: Your family is going to be traveling this summer. You’re concerned about your child handling delays at the airport or sitting through long car rides.
What you can do: Have a contingency plan! Pack emergency snacks and small activities that can be completed during the wait. Try to rotate your stash to keep diversions fresh for your child. Also look for fun alternatives to screen time. Playing “I Spy” as you take a brisk walk around the terminal or rest stop could help your child feel less antsy during the next leg of your trip.