So often people enjoy the first few weeks, only to glance at the calendar and find that summer seems to go on forever, and something stained the sparkle. Parents may run out of both ideas and energy.
Using Summer as a Time to Teach Values
There are many values you can teach your child through successful summer experiences:
- Satisfaction of hard work and a job well done
- Experiencing cause and effect of one’s own actions (e.g. “If I don’t hang up my bathing suit it may smell.”)
- Feelings of deserving the right to have some well-earned fun time
- The closeness and warmth of one-to-one time with parents and friends
- The earning of money by the work of one’s own hands (lawn mowing, baby sitting, household chores)
However, one compulsion to avoid is the negativism of perfection, which sets impossible goals and dooms one’s efforts to failure. People at times go a little overboard on excellence at the expense of having fun with music, sports and art.
Making a Well-Rounded Summer Schedule for Families
- Do some things for yourself without guilt from your kids. By doing so, teach them by example, respect for self as well as for others.
- Maintain a schedule with some looseness. Everyone needs some degree of relaxation, so try not to make the schedule too crowded. Alternate active and inactive experiences. Accept your child’s desire to relax and have some unrushed, unstructured fun.
- Require children to carry their load. Do expect some help with the chores though – teach responsibility by satisfying experiences, but try to avoid the sour taste of lectures when possible.
- Encourage children to learn to cope with disappointments. A hug and some statements of empathy will help a child deal with upsets, such as a rained-out swim meet. (This is preferable to trying to “make up” for what reality has dealt out, since reality is what our children will be facing in all their future years.)
Letting Children Learn from their Experiences
This builds self-image and confidence in one’s abilities and worth. Don’t do anything for children they can do for themselves. Running too much interference for a child (over-protecting) can give the message that:
- the child is not capable, or
- the child somehow deserving of your being his servant.
Neither lesson is one you really desire to foster.
Avoiding Burnout by Stopping before Excess
This even includes fun activities. People often wonder why children on vacation or holiday become irritable instead of grateful for the experiences provided for them. Perhaps the answer can be found in the fact that they, like all humans, need time for rest and even boring spaces between exciting moments.
In fact, those long summer hours with “nothing to do” often teach creativity and problem solving skills. It is no doubt helpful to provide much structured time, yet children do need the experience of filling some moments themselves.
Forget keeping up with others. You and your children do not have to keep up with anyone. Always choose activities because your family wants to, not just because others are doing it.
Taking Care of Business as You Enjoy Summer
This may involve cleaning out closets, visiting relatives, learning the multiplication tables, etc. but don’t put these chores and obligations off until August. Procrastination ensures pressure and disappointments.
Also, expressing feelings as you go along prevents those summer blow-ups and keeps your emotional accounts updated. Children need to hear your positive and negative feedback a piece at a time, and they need to be “heard” regularly and often. Remember that several positives must be given for each correctional statement in order to keep relationships from clogging up.
Keep the sparkle in your family’s summer by using the summer to teach values, having a well-rounded summer schedule, letting your children learn from their experience, avoiding burnout by stopping before excess, and taking care of business as you go along. Sit down, put your feet up and help yourself to some summer sparkle!