ARE YOUR KIDS ANXIOUS?
Most kids are excited for summer, right? But many more are not excited. They don’t know how to tell us and, frankly, they don’t know why they are feeling the way they do. One in eight children, in a given year, are affected by an anxiety disorder. So it is understandable that some kids experience summer anxiety.
What does that anxiety mean? Having an anxiety disorder means excessive and unrealistic worry about everyday things for more than six months. Summer can cause more anxiety in kids. Summer is less predictable than the school year. So kids worry more. Yes, there are many benefits to summer. We just need to make sure we are aware of how our kids are feeling to help support them to have the best summer it can be. And remember best is different for all of us.
BENEFITS OF SUMMER
Some benefits of summer are obvious. These include:
1. Spending more time outdoors.
2. Getting more Vitamin D which everyone needs for
- Boosting mood
- Brain functioning
- A healthy immune system
- Bone health
3. Exercising more
4. Being more social
5. Having more free time
6. Having more down time
STRESS OF SUMMER
Although the benefits seem like summer would be so much fun they can create more anxiety and stress for kids. Having more time on their hands causes kids to feel stronger emotions. Some kids experience:
- Feeling moodier
- More dis-regulation
- Increased sadness
- Difficulty in sleeping
- Feeling pressure to be with friends
- Feeling pressure to be more social
WHY CAN ANXIETY WORSEN OVER SUMMER?
There are many reasons, but here are the four most important reasons. All parents should pay attention to these so they can help support their child before summer even happens. The four are:
- Change of schedule and routine
- Less or not enough structure
- The pressure to be social and have fun
- Less people around to support their needs
What symptoms should you look for in your child? Some of them are recurring nightmares, physical symptoms like stomach or heart pounding, overwhelming feelings of panic or fear, loss of appetite, lack of interest in usual activities, and uncontrollable obsessive thoughts. Again, no child will react in the same way so be mindful for any changes in behavior about two weeks before summer begins.
TIPS FOR SUMMER FUN
How can you help your child? Here are some tips to help your child to have less anxiety and more fun in summer.
For example, keep the usual sleep routine for your child. It might be a half hour later, but every thing else should stay the same. Like, brush teeth, read a book together and 5 minutes of rubbing your child’s back. Go through what the schedule will be on Sundays for the week. This will give your child some comfort of stability.
Have a written schedule for the day. For example, breakfast, play time, snack, activity, brain break, lunch, activity, rest time/nap, snack, activity, play time. Have a certain number of days that they will meet with friends every week. This will help them to know what to expect each week.
PLAN TIME WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY EACH WEEK
It’s great for kids to participate in activities during summer months. Be careful not to over schedule them. Plan a day or two for your child to spend time with a friend a week. It is healthy for your child to get out of the house and also to stay in touch with some friends. It’s also a great time to plan some family time. It might be one or two days a week for just an hour, but it’s important.
HAVE ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR YOUR CHILD DAILY
Kids go from having at least 3 or more adults in their lives every day at school to only one or two at home. Having your child either go to childcare or some camps will benefit them in many ways. It will help them to continue working on their social skills and feeling connected to their peers. Also, making sure they have family time during the day. That might be packing their lunch together each night or playing a game each night. It could even be just sitting and listening to them.
Summer time sadness is a real thing for many kids. The best thing we can do to support our kids is to give them our time and attention. This will help them to recognize the signs of anxiety. Then take the time to use the tools shared to make it the best summer it can be.