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Family Matters

Summer Time Misbehavin’ Seven Things to Do

June 26th, 2013

By: Barb Rusiewicz-Enright

School is finally out. Having dinner on the run with the rush of soccer, lacrosse and baseball is over. It’s time, you might say, for the lazy days of summer…

Or not! The kids are “bored” already. They often say that there is, “nothing to do.” Yet they constantly fight and seem to know how to push your buttons. You had been longing for summer and now you find yourself wishing for back-toschool! Here are seven things “borrowed” from the classroom that might help out in the meantime:

Plan.
Teachers know that this is what makes the difference between a great class and one that feels like it has run away. Having a plan means recognizing that things don’t always go as expected. Have a plan for this too. So, it’s pouring rain and your “plan” was to go to the park and play. Now what? Have an indoor picnic. Create an obstacle course. Draw with sidewalk chalk in the rain.

Set a daily routine.
Going from structure and routine to suddenly not having any is a change. Think about the daily agenda in the classroom. It gives everyone a sense of what it happening next: Monday gym, Tuesday library… The sudden summer lack of routine is likely why the kids are “misbehaving”. Consider making a calendar/agenda for home during the holidays.

Move.
Most elementary schools include regular opportunity for movement. Getting your body moving feels good. It makes your brain work better. Summer is a perfect time for movement. Run. Play. Kick a ball. Fly a kite. Bike ride. Build a sand castle.

Shut off the cell phone (and electronics).
Schools have a “no cell phone” rule for a reason. Phones are distracting. They take away from learning. It stands to reason that phones take away from other things too. Important things like having a “real” back and forth conversation and play that goes on and on. So, put away your phone and try listening to and being with your child. See where this takes you.

No bullying.
Yes, adults are in charge and kids do need limits. However, check your tone of voice. Make sure you have their attention. Remind them of what to do instead of telling them what not to do. Catch them doing little things right. Believe in them. It’s amazing what this parenting approach can do.

Commit to your best.
Schools ask this of students. This does not mean perfection. It means trying your best and trying again. Therefore, it’s not about being the “perfect” parent. “Good enough” parenting is not good enough. Commit to your best each day. Apologize when you are in the wrong. Re-do and repair relationships when needed.

Share.
This lesson learned in kindergarten is really for life. At school, this means having respect for others, caring for property, and taking turns. At home, this means much of the same and more. Family is where we share deeply, care strongly and create a place of belonging. For life. In the end, it’s not really about doing more to prevent “boredom”. It’s about doing things differently. Hopefully, the seven tips outlined above are a good start to what turns out to be a great summer.

Barb Rusiewicz-Enright is a psychologist at Aspire Special Needs Resource Centre where she works with children, consults with parents and presents workshops on a variety of topics including Behaviour.

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