Coping With Spring Fever in School Children:
Helping Parents and Students Survive Springtime Blues
As dreamy eyes look outside the schoolroom window, teachers and students alike wonder if it will ever end. Spitwads and graffiti are on the increase and bickering between students is on a roll.
During this period, students start looking on teachers and parents as “jailers” than helpers. Finding a wise middle ground is a not-so-welcome challenge for parents.
Is this hopeless? Should we give up and look the other way? Should we let it slide, praying for good summer school hours? Would it help to follow Mother Hubbard and “spank them all soundly” more often? Is it possible to combat it, or must we work with it the best we can?
There are ways to deal with spring fever in students. Start by understanding the reasons for this behavior, realize it can be even worse after spring break, plan to cope rather than cure it, and stay with the plan.
Understanding Reasons for Spring Fever Behavior Changes
As flowers blossom and the cool breeze hits a child’s skin, restlessness begins to wrench its way towards consciousness. Several seeds of adjustment begin to reach their way with a view to warmer weather. Young minds may be distracted by by the seasonal changes.
Fear of change is foremost in their minds as they wonder if they’ll be able to survive the milestone of the next grade, anxiety about summer, and fearing how it may be next year in school. These issues present enough to make any mind drift.
Separation anxiety is often a factor, as students anticipate the loss of daily playmates, familiar routines, and teachers with whom they’ve reached an understanding. A common reaction to this realization that separation is coming is to feel anger because then it isn’t necessary to be sad, and the painful embarrassment of grief can be avoided.
All of these reasons add to the stress of finding their way through the necessary adjustments of this transitional time of year in the classroom.
Seeing Worse Behavior after Spring Break
Parents may be shocked that avoidance of work and more negative behaviors can rise after spring break week. Keep in mind the magnetic draw of springtime has pulled the multitudes for generations.
Even though the break has its value, there is also a grief at ending this ecstatic taste of freedom. So don’t be surprised if the students have a hard time getting their motors started again. Losing that less structured time can cause quite a painful reaction.
Gear Up to Make a Plan
Most of us would rather believe in miracles than make miracles. Thus we nurture the myth that spring break will solve it all, relieving some of the accumulated stress of the school year.
Plan to Cope with Spring Fever
By now it can be seen that there’s no cure for spring fever. So, plan to cope. Clarifying fair expectations is vital at this point.
Accept the feelings (not necessarily the behaviors) that come with it. Don’t waste time challenging the anger; instead encourage the child to move on.
Provide more rewards, more often. Emphasize earning rewards by staying afloat academically. Remember to reward efforts, not just grades. Encourage and record your child when he or she makes an attempt to ‘not fall out of the boat’ of being a student. Warm fuzzies may include hugs, verbal praise, weekend activities, and even points toward buying a desired gift.
Provide structure. Don’t steer into the problem; spring fever isn’t an icy road. Channel the energy by putting a soft comfortable harness on the restlessness. Letting it go makes it harder to remedy in the end. So stay on a schedule which should start gently a bit before school starts again.
Help the student transition from spring break. One way to guide a student to acceptance of the necessity of continuing to work on their studies is to help in finding a sense of closure at the end of spring break. This can include psyching up for the coming school tasks, setting up reward systems, and promising to make summer plans after the child is back in the routine of school and homework.
Stay with the Plan after Spring Break
Celebrate accomplishments more often and make privileges easier to earn. Yet, don’t make the reward staying up late or anything which would work against the child in school.
Purposely avoid crises. Don’t overreact. Keep your responses in line with the offense when correcting. Adults may need to count to ten (by fractions if needed) to carry this off graciously.
Stay consistent with your plan. Don’t change the rules when a child’s world is already in a whirl of change. Avoid telling stories of spring break events which don’t provide a good role model. Even giggling when a relative tells such tales can make a child consider veering off the path of readjustment to school work.
Parents and other adults need to take care of themselves. This will generate more energy to bring to the child even on bad days.
Give kids a chance,
Care in advance,
Enjoy the picnic,
But don’t get stung by the ants!
So this year when spring fever shows up, cope by understanding the reasons, expect behavior to be a bit worse after spring break, make a plan, and stay with it while you nurture yourself and your child.
Copyright Hildra Tague. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication. First published at Suite101.com.