As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, it is critical to guide and support your child’s mental health through summer break. This summer break is different than previous summers, making it challenging to adapt to these changes. Our mental health experts weigh in with some tips and tricks to help you and your family get through the summer months.
How can I establish a routine now that the school year has ended?
Due to canceled and restricted summer activities, kids and teens are spending even more time at home. “Allowing your child to have their own time is important,” states Lauren Lund, Diversus Health Clinical Programs Supervisor. Alone time allows kids to recharge and be more present when participating in more structured family activities and daily tasks. “Encourage them to engage in their hobbies or try something they previously did not spare time to do. This can help to increase independence and creativity.”
For older teens, Lund says that a part-time job or volunteer opportunity can assist in maintaining a routine in mental well-being. She suggests that structure allows for time to focus on the things we can control and creates a feeling of safety and predictability.
How do I encourage mindfulness in my child/teen?
Mindfulness is the practice of awareness and focusing on the present while accepting feelings that come when acknowledging our surroundings. Practicing mindfulness has proven to decrease anxiety and increase positive emotions. These techniques look different for everyone and can be simplified for kids and teens. Lund suggests that it does not have to be limited to a zen moment; mindfulness can be found in moments throughout our day. “Expressing gratitude, listening to relaxing music, and exploring nature may help to establish mindfulness habits,” says Lund.
For older children, Lund recommends incorporating scheduled mindfulness reminders in their day. “Adding a reminder or alarm on your cell phone can prompt a moment to check-in with yourself and be present.” Other methods could include reciting a mantra, self-affirmations, or pinning up a quote that resonates with you. Mindfulness practices are unique to each individual and finding something that works for you is key.
How do I know when my child or teen needs extra help?
Asking questions is crucial to understanding your child or teen’s emotions and feelings. Talk to your kids openly and without judgement or expectations to gauge where they are. Kids can easily feel disconnected during summer break and a one-on-one conversation can help to recognize struggles or challenges.
“When a parent seeks help for a child or teen who is struggling, it is common for parents to feel emotions of guilt. Know that it is not your fault and that it says a lot that you stand with them through difficult times.”
It is normal for children to have many questions and feelings during this time, but if you feel they are having difficulty expressing those feelings or show signs of overwhelming stress and anxiety, let us connect you with someone who can help. Fill out our contact form or call us at (719)-572-6100 to get started today.
For more tips on how to care for children during COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus resource [MA5] page.