Monday, May 21 2012, 02:42 PM EDT
Parkridge Valley Counselor Offers Summertime Tips for Families with Kids
Parkridge Valley counselor Farlie Chastain knows that the summer months present a unique challenge for parents who want to keep their children happy, healthy and out of trouble. He offers the following tips for parents on how to manage kids while they are out of school.
- During the summer, it’s a good idea to keep a weekly calendar on the fridge or in a common area. “Giving kids a visual for the plans of each week during the summer can provide structure and give them something to look forward to,” says Chastain.
- For kids that might be too old for camp but too young for a summer job, try giving them the opportunity to volunteer. “There are a number of ways that older and younger children can give back to the community,” according to Chastain. “Volunteering is a great way to build responsibility and time-management skills.” For a list of volunteer opportunities, visit uwchatt.org.
- Some parents consider giving their child a break from ADHD medication during the summer months. “Make sure to have a talk with your child’s pediatrician or the prescribing physician before making the decision – you can discuss your child’s behavior with the doctor and review the different factors associated with your child’s treatment. It may make sense for you to discontinue treatment during the summer,” recommends Chastain. “If the child is older, you can ask him or her how she feels about taking medication and factor their response in as well. Every child is different, and the decision to continue medication ultimately lies with the parent.”
- Summer programs like camps, sports and workshops are a great way for kids to try new interests and make new friends while staying active. Summer is also a great time for unstructured play and a chance for you and your child to get to know other children in the neighborhood. “Spend time inside and outside in play with your kids – how we play is often how we behave as adults,” explains Chastain. “Participating in play gives common ground for open communication and often is the best time to talk.”
- Regardless of what they are involved in, it is important to check in with your children and make sure that they feel comfortable with the activity and with the other children involved. “Keep an open dialogue with your kids – you don’t have to interrogate them, but ask enough questions to let them know that you are interested in what they are doing and that you care,” says Chastain. “Let them know that they can talk to you if something or someone makes them uncomfortable or upsets them.” Make sure that your child knows how to contact you in the case of an emergency – a cell phone for older kids makes sense as a way to make sure that you can keep in touch throughout the day. If possible, have emergency numbers programmed into the phone or make sure that your child knows another number to call for help if you are unavailable.
- If you have younger children, it’s a good idea to schedule and take them to play dates or other activities, and make sure you meet the parents of your child’s new friends. “It’s important to know who your child is spending time with,” says Chastain.
Active parenting can go a long way toward keeping children happy, healthy and safe all summer long. For more summertime parenting tips, visit http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/summer-safety-children.