The upcoming weeks are an exciting time for many kids because as Alice Cooper says, “SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SUMMER”!!! But it can also be a stressful time for those that like the routine and consistency that school brings. There are a lot of people that don’t understand this, but research proves that all children do best with at least some sort of structured routine. Some just need it more than others in order to be successful. One of our OTs dislikes surprises for this very reason (don’t worry, we still give her good surprises every once and a while)!
Children who have a difficult time adjusting to days full of spontaneity and free time often show us by crying, running away, and/or throwing temper tantrums. But just because it’s hard for them doesn’t mean your family can’t have fun. Try some of these simple strategies to help decrease their anxiety this summer:
1. Include them in the planning as much as possible. This can give them some feeling of control.
2. Enroll them in camps and sports for the summer. This is a great way to add structure while providing educational, social, and leisure opportunities.
3. Use visual schedules to add the element of predictability. We recommend daily or weekly schedules that include pictures (or words if they can read) of the main activities. For example, one might include Play, Lunch, Museum, Dinner, Play, Bed. If you have a lot of the plans for the week, consider making a weekly schedule or showing them the big events laid out in a weekly fashion.
4. Write or use a social story for unfamiliar activities. Social stories are told from the child’s perspective and answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions regarding that event. For more information on social stories, visit Carol Gray’s website and this link for directions and an example.
Enjoy and don't forget to have fun this summer!