School is Out…Now What?
by Tiffany Jewell
The last day of school is just around the corner and as a parent, you need to be ready. During the academic year, kids are active in sports, music and other school happenings. Summer is here and many children find themselves bored during the day with nothing to do but sit at home playing video games and/or watching television in the same place from the moment they wake up to the moment you get home from work.
At NOAH, we know the importance of mental health and have equipped you with 6 ways to keep your kids mentally healthy over summer.
1 – Maintain routine or structure. While summer may be more relaxed, it is helpful to maintain some structure such as going to bed and getting up at a consistent time. Also, eating meals around the same time frames as children would normally eat during the school year can help maintain structure.
2 – Be active. Whether it be signing your children up for swim team, joining a local community center where you can attend classes or attend summer day camps. Remember to keep your children active. Not only does this help with their mental health, they will continue work on social skills and get exercise.
3 – Communicate. Ask how your child’s day went. If you get ‘one-word’ responses, trying framing your question differently, forcing them to open up. Something like – “what did you learn about today or what was your favorite part of today?”
4 – Watch for avoidance or anxiety. When your child is struggling they may avoid or disengage from things that they used to love to do. Take notice when you see a decrease in physical activity, desire to hang out with friends or family and loss of interest in activities they once loved.
You may notice an increase in more solitary and sedentary activities, such as:
• Sleeping more frequently.
• Playing video games often.
• Watching television all day.
• Loss of interest in food or not eating as often.
5 – Look for patterns. Monitoring your child’s activity daily is a great way to spot behavior changes. In our home, we let our children sleep in a little bit longer than during the academic year as long as it doesn’t interfere with activities or engaging with friends and hobbies. However, if you begin to notice the following patterns, there may be more cause for concern.
• Avoids talking to friends or family.
• Appears to be down or irritable much of the time.
• Sleeps most of the day with little interest in activity.
• Loss of interest in food, especially their favorite meals.
6 – What are the signs? A child’s mental health status may be displayed in various ways.
These behaviors may include:
• Negative comments about self.
• Excessive worry.
• Loss of interest.
Sometimes, despite your best effort, your child may need additional support with internal issues they face. If you have observed similar signs of distress and a change in behavior, our NOAH Care Team can help you create and manage healthy lifestyle habits by providing behavioral health counseling for children in need of tools to manage stress, anxiety and depression. Call 480-882-4545 or request an appointment today!