“School’s out … for … summer!”
Yes, I know, I am showing my age a little bit using song lyrics from the 1972 Alice Cooper hit, but it would not surprise me that kids across the area have probably had those words ringing in their ears once or twice since the final school bell rang on the school year.
For school-aged children everywhere, the academic responsibilities of math, science, reading and social studies have been replaced with visions of sleepovers, water parks, amusement rides, playing games with friends, going here, going there; going everywhere!
For most kids, summer is the time to relax, have fun, and experience all sorts of events. But for us parents who are in charge of the care of these children, our lives seem to be turned upside down when that final school bell rings! Kids hear the bell and they think “Off to the races!” Parents hear the final school bell ring and think, “Oh no, what do I do now?”
Parents, relax. Take a deep breath. No need to panic. You’ve got this. Kids can be quite demanding these days. Living in a world of instant gratification, instant information, and instant entertainment, children seem to think along these lines. Children have the tendency to feel that their brain has to be entertained all the time, with no pause for processing, appreciation, and reflection.
It stands to reason that they would think their summer schedules should be filled to that same level. I am here to tell parents; it just does not have to be that way. And more importantly, you do not have to feel responsible for making sure every day of their summer has to be an adventure!
What do you mean? Just let them sit on the couch and do nothing? The simple answer to that question is “No.” Kids need to be active. They need to move, be motivated, and it is imperative that they need to have responsibilities they must complete every day. Summer does not mean turn into a “couch potato” or a “video gamer” for eight hours a day, but it also does not mean, as parents that we have to stress over making sure our children have some quest scheduled to entertain them.
I often hear parents say, “I have to have something for my child to do. Every! Day!” What is the fear? They will get bored? And? Not having something to do can be just as intellectually stimulating, because now they have to think of something to occupy their time. I call that “problem solving skills.”
When your child complains about “being bored,” I see nothing wrong with responding with the statement, “Work the problem, kiddo. Think of something to do, then come let me know what you decided. Maybe I will join you!”
As parents, our job is to love and care for your child first: entertain them second. Take a deep breath parents: summer can be about problem solving, and less about summer scheduling!
David Arabie is licensed professional counselor at Bayside Clinic in Anahuac.