Summer Structure for Children
With school now out of session for most children, parents often wonder if they should adjust their child’s bed time, allow increased screen time, as well as change other rules. While these types of decisions really need to be made on an individual basis based on your child’s own unique needs, here are a few general suggestions for addressing some of these issues:
1) Bedtime: Keeping consistency with a bedtime routine in the summer is important. However, depending on what activities your child is doing, it may be ok to adjust the specific bedtime slightly as long as your child is getting enough sleep.
2) Use of screen time: Deciding whether to increase use of screen time depends in part on your rationale for implementing restrictions in the first place. Was it instituted to make sure your child completed all of their homework? Do you want them to spend more time doing other things rather than using electronics? If restrictions were put in place primarily because of concerns about not completing homework, it is probably ok to lessen restrictions on screen time in the summer. If such restrictions were put in place more to encourage your child to do other activities, it is important to look at balance. If your child has a lot more downtime in the summer, it may be ok to allow some screen time during the week to help fill extra free time.
3) Behavioral issues on vacation: No parent wants to deal with their child acting up on a vacation. To avoid this, look carefully at the planned activities for trips and identify activities that have the potential to cause difficulties for your child. Determine if there are things that you can do to prevent difficulties from being as likely. For instance, if your child gets very irritable when hungry or tired, make sure that you always carry snacks with you. In addition, if your child is at an age where they take naps regularly, try to schedule naps at their usual time when possible. If you use a behavior plan with your child on a regular basis, consider using that on vacation or creating different target behaviors for the trip.
These suggestions are only supposed to be used as a general guide. Each child’s needs are different and need to be taken into account when using the strategies discussed above.
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*Disclaimer: The previous information is intended as general guidance based on my professional opinion, does not constitute an established professional relationship, and should not replace the recommendations of a psychologist or other licensed professional with whom you initiate or maintain a professional relationship*