By Parth Patel, CommUnity Crisis Services
Youth Mobile Crisis Coordinator
With summer fast approaching and the school year coming to a close, it’s important to recognize that the change in routine can result in some noticeable changes to your child’s mood and behavior. Summer break is considered a rewarding, enjoyable period for kids to have some extra time to spend with their friends and family. This break means warmer weather and less academic responsibilities. Perhaps your child wants to pursue meaningful hobbies they are interested in, play video games, or find a part time job to learn new skills and make some money. Even though this break is celebrated by many, it can be a major source of stress for others, especially those who thrive on structure and organized time.
Not all students are able to organize social interactions with their friends over the summer due to lack of transportation and cell phones to stay in touch. For some kids, this skill has not been developed yet, and they may not know how to initiate hang outs with their friends. Either way, without the convenience of seeing their friends at school, some kids may start to experience loneliness and isolation at home. Kids may also find themselves staying up late, sleeping in, and spending most of their time chilling at home. They may fall into long periods of inactivity leading to boredom, unproductivity, and possibly even depression symptoms. School can provide many students with a sense of purpose, and losing this sense of purpose can be pretty disorienting.
Another challenging aspect of summer break is that many kids who get support for their emotional and mental health issues from school teachers, counselors, coaches, and other staff, will not receive these same check-ins or be monitored over the summer. Warning signs that indicate that kids are really struggling may go unnoticed. I’d like to share some steps and tips that caretakers can use to help their child transition into summer and enjoy this time!
- Create a new summer routine. Yes, summer is an ideal time to relax and take it easy, but it’s still helpful to maintain some sort of routine that your child can get used to. Try creating and writing this routine down with your child and brainstorming some fun activities to try out together.
- Make healthy choices. Of course life is all about balance and indulging in yummy foods and taking time to rest are okay, and we also know that certain habits like staying active, eating more plant-based foods, getting enough sleep can benefit your mental health as well.
- Explore a new hobby. Since students may not be feeling like they have a sense of purpose now that they aren’t in class, try encouraging them to try out a new hobby they’ve been interested in and help them access that activity.
- Be aware of any behavioral patterns. Sleeping in more is pretty common during summer break, but if you are noticing your child sleep for most of the day, get frustrated easily, and stop doing the things they once enjoyed, it may be a good time to check in with them and call mobile crisis for extra support.
- Family fun time. Summer is an awesome time to create new memories that your child will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Plan some outings for you and your kids to get to know each other, laugh, and pass the time. These can include anything, big or small, that you know your kid is interested in. Some examples include: going to the movies together, taking a day trip to go hiking/kayaking somewhere beautiful, tossing the frisbee around at a park, playing video games together, or going on walks or bike rides. No matter what you choose to do, just remember that this quality time together can strengthen your relationship with your child and help you really understand what’s most important to them.
These are just a few of the suggestions I have to help you and your child have a fantastic summer break. I also want to remind you that I will be here all summer for support as needed. As CommUnity’s Youth Mobile Crisis Coordinator, you can count on me to physically respond to wherever you and your child are to provide immediate crisis counseling.
To have mobile crisis counselors dispatched to your location, call the Your Life Iowa line at 1-855-581-8111 and ask for mobile crisis.