What Those Sunny Days May Reveal & How to Use Them Wisely
The long awaited days of summer! The promise of relaxation, fun, and a well deserved break from the grind of long school days, hours of homework, and the stresses of a tightly scheduled life…every kid’s dream! Yet for both parents and kids, summer can bring its own set of challenges. Our offices buzz in the summer months. And with good reason! For some parents, it’s the space to breathe summertime brings that compels them to confront what they have been “managing okay” or “barely managing” with their child or adolescent at home in the frenetic schedule of the school year. But when examined in the light of a less hurried, sunny summer day, perhaps certain behaviors and challenges take on more substantial meaning, more reason for parents to be legitimately worried about what’s to come.
The ADHD and executive functioning challenged child or adolescent who meets the unstructured months of summer can legitimately raise that alarm. Parents’ concern — or frustration — over messy rooms, too much time gaming or in front of the television may be the thing that pushes them to seek a solution in our office to their child’s now undeniable inability to initiate and follow through on tasks.
Then there are those behaviors that may bubble up to the boiling point in the summer heat. That school avoidance that manifested in malingering, over-sleeping, and relatively infuriating but otherwise innocuous verbal sparring fests during the school year has become a more noticeably worrisome self-isolation, or morphed into a flight pattern of staying away from home to socialize — or party — excessively with peers. That weed smoking that parents of teenagers suspected during the school year suddenly escalates to an obvious daily occurrence on the heels of a year of academic struggles or failures.
So summer isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sun, rest, fun, a change of pace, growth opportunities of new experiences and paid work are all-good for the soul and should refuel the child or adolescent for the coming school year.
But when unstructured time exposes more concerning behaviors, avoid convincing yourself that this is just a phase that this too shall pass. And when long talks, polite requests for change, nagging, ultimatums and bribery don’t succeed in helping change the concerning behaviors, it’s time to act.
Summer can be that opportunity to examine your child’s patterns of behavior in a constructive way — and preferably before they reach the potential to create a crisis — with the help of a professional who is qualified to provide recommendations designed to effectively address those developmental challenges your child is facing.