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                                                             Summer Structure
                                                           By Tara Ford, LCSW
                                                             July-August 2017

Summer is well underway, and you may already be wishing for September!  You miss the predictable structure of school days. You are finding it impossible to fill every day with water parks, playdates, and vacations. Summer can even be more difficult when you have a child with anxiety, ADHD, ODD, or an autism spectrum disorder. Below are some tips to help put some relaxation back into your family’s summer break.


  1. Kids crave routine and structure. Knowing what to expect is calming and gives children a foundation to guide their day. Use a white board or piece of paper on the fridge. List the day’s activities. Mornings or afternoons will probably look the same (e.g., breakfast, chores, TV, tablet or phone time, a physical activity, and reading). The other half of the day may contain a special activity or outing.
  2. Bedtimes may vary during the summer months, but staying up late and sleeping till afternoon is confusing and ensures a struggle when children return to a school schedule in the fall. Many community events and activities may also be missed while your kids are asleep!
  3. Try to schedule activities for the same days each week. Monday may be a day for the playground or zoo, Tuesday for the pool, and Wednesday for a visit to grandparents. Check your Facebook events page, local newspaper, and friends for other fun and free activities in your area. Keeping your children engaged in stimulating and physical activities is healthy for everyone. If you have an autistic child with sensory and stimulation issues, locate local resources for events specifically tailored to other children with similar issues. Many mental health agencies also offer highly structured, half-day therapeutic summer programs that are not only fun but provide your child an opportunity to learn new coping skills. Home can also be a fun place. Pools, slip and slides, sprinklers, hula hoops, scooters, and bikes provide easy outdoor activities.
  4. Search Pinterest for simple craft and cooking ideas for rainy or scorching hot days.
  5. Keep discipline the same as during the school year. Inform your children of the consequences of their unsafe or unacceptable behaviors. Follow through, and be consistent! Better yet, use small incentives such as extra tablet or TV time to reward good behavior and choices. Perhaps even a wrist band to a local carnival can be earned! 


 

Resources

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